Imagine this scenario, if you will. You are at the mall, and you see a woman looking over a rack of clothing with her teenage daughter. As they dig through the articles of clothing, you start to hone in on their conversation: Girl: "I like this top."
Mom: "That shirt is beautiful, but not on you. You would just look washed out with your pasty white skin."
Girl: "Ok, maybe this one?"
Mom: "This one is nice, too, but no one as fat as you should be wearing something that tight. You'll look horrible in it."
Girl: "I'm going to go meet up with my friends now, and do some studying for my exams."
Mom: "You're just saying that; you know you'll never actually get anything done. You know you're going to procrastinate, because that's what lazy people do. And even if you do get some studying done, it won't be enough to make up for the fact that you just aren't smart or capable enough to do well on your exam."
Cue complete rage and righteous indignation upon hearing this, right? We all respond differently to uncomfortable situations, but at the very least most of us would be disgusted by this type of degradation. Some of us might even interject with a scathing remark, or a warranted scolding.
Now, let's back up a minute. Hearing these thoughts expressed aloud to another human being is enough to make the majority of us experience emotions ranging from irritation to fury. So, why is it that so many feel perfectly content and comfortable speaking to themselves this way?
If we spoke to others the way we speak to ourselves...well, there would probably be a lot more fistfights out in the streets. After treating a particularly self-deprecating patient last week, I decided to keep track of the disparaging comments that flow so effortlessly from the mouths of those around me. It was a loooong list. Even when I wasn't hearing phrases birthed from actual self-hatred, there were still plenty of casual meannesses to go around:
"God, I'm so stupid."
"If I had a brain, I'd know this..."
"As usual, I didn't get anything done..."
"I can't do anything right."
Now, seriously, switch this up for a minute. Imagine that you are speaking with a colleague, and this is what they are saying to you: "God, you are so stupid. If you had a brain, you'd know this. As usual, you got nothing done. You can't do anything right."
What an ass, right? This is the type of person you would avoid at all costs. Yet you probably said a few of these phrases to yourself at some point today, and thought nothing of it.
We become what we imagine. We visualize our truths, and then make them our own. Every time you repeat to yourself that you aren't capable, that you aren't bright, that you can't help but to screw everything up...this is you creating your reality. Repetition breeds habit. Each time you engage in this negative self-talk, you are psyching yourself up to fail, to fall, to disappoint...and not only yourself. Spend enough time convincing those around you of your worthlessness, your ineptitude, and eventually, guess what? They will all believe you.
It's not so very difficult to flip the script. To become more conscious of the words and thoughts that are flowing from your unique and brilliant little brain, and to simply put them on pause. Assess these thoughts, whatever they may be. Are they helpful? Are they energizing? Do they lift you up in any way, or do they simply bring you down? If they have no use, just cut them off at the root. Let them wither and die; they have no place in your life.