I used to be a really bad self-talker, or perhaps I was a good bad self-talker. I would say terrible things to myself about myself. Sometimes I said them out loud, sometimes under my breath; but mostly quietly where no one could hear what I was saying. Nobody but me.
I told myself that I was stupid and made bad decisions. If I forgot to bring enough change for the meter I was a complete idiot. If the stitching on my hem was unraveling I was incapable. It was a hidden abuse, as most abuse is. I compensated for it, and did well anyway.
Once I realized that self abuse is just as horrible as abuse done by others, I began to uncover and eliminate the habit. Because that is what bad self-talk is; a habit and learned behavior. As destructive as that habit and behavior is, it is an accepted one, so I also had to give up any desire to feel a part of what others do.
Sometimes bad self-talk serves a purpose that we aren’t aware of. It either makes us victims so others will feel sorry for us, or strong and courageous as we succeed in spite of it. Neither one is a strong foundation on which to build a good life. One day that big bad wolf could easily blow that house down.
Over the years, I have worked at letting go of the bad-self talk habit. I have pushed that abuser out of my house, and locked the door. Sometimes it sneaks in through cracks in the window or drips in through a leaky roof, but for the most part I thought it was quiet in my house.
And then it dawned on me, just because I wasn’t practicing bad self-talk, it didn’t mean I shouldn’t be practicing good self-talk. All the time. Not just sometimes when I “need” something, or want to help someone, or feel bad enough that I take up good self – talk.
ALL the time!
It was the dawn that reminded me. Spring in Ohio. It starts in February even though the ground is often still covered with snow. The birds start singing. As the flowers began to bloom and the grass trades its brown dress for a green one, every bird is heard singing in their own voice as they greet the dawn. Their morning chorus is astonishing and beautiful.
No bad self-talk here among the birds. But, not only that, they are singing good self-talk. They sing of their expectations of the day, filled with all good things. Companionship, food, air, trees, the sun, and their young.
They work hard these birds. They don’t wake up thinking it is a day off, because for them (I know I am anthropomorphizing) they can’t take a day off. How could they? They have to feed themselves in order to survive. And in the spring they have babies to feed too.
And yet, every morning they sing of expectation and gratitude. What do they know that we often forget? That there is nothing to take a day off from if every day is glorious.
A funny thing happened when I began to notice that I wasn’t practicing good self-talk all the time. I noticed a bunch of bad self-talk was going on too. How did I miss it? It was because it wasn’t as loud as it used to be, and it was much more sneaky.
Time for some spring cleaning and spring singing to take place. Time to check what I say to myself and end the negative. Time to bump up the practice of finding and routing out self-talk that does not consistently acknowledge the good that is always present.
It’s not that hard. There is a cure for the habit. It’s called kindness. Starting with ourselves we can be grateful for our own unique song. We can sing it every morning. We can spread it out into the world.
Kindness is catching on. The theme of the movie Cinderella is, Have courage, Be kind. That sums it up doesn’t it? And if you are not sure, go see the movie and be inspired to keep good self-talk, and stop the other. Good things await. Have courage. Be kind. And watch the magic happen.