“That little voice in your head isn’t you.”
This is something my mom used to say to me that has become my mantra.
I have always been a self-critical person. As a young kid, I remember being upset with myself for accidentally coloring outside the lines of my Scooby-Doo coloring book. Or getting mad that I forgot a letter in one of my “spelling words.” During these times, I’d have a little voice in my head reminding me of everything I did wrong.
Becoming a teenager is difficult for everyone, and I was no exception. Every time I went back-to-school shopping, the familiar voice would make an appearance. It would pester me and repeat how the shirt I was wearing hugged my stomach a little too tight. Or it would appear when I was in class, reminding me how foolish I was for scoring low on a test. Because of the constant ridicule, I became shy and reserved. I was scared people would see me the same way I saw myself.
After voicing my worries to my mom, she introduced me to a concept that I never really thought about. The negative voice that lives in my head does not control me; I control it. Your thoughts are your own, and if you tell yourself something every day, you will end up thinking it’s true. Now, instead of telling myself I’m not good enough, I practice self-love.
Whenever an irrational and negative thought enters my brain, I tell it to be quiet. I know now that it is just the little voice with nothing better to do. Every morning, I fight the voice off with affirmations: you are loved, you are important, and you are enough. I also list everything I am thankful for in my life. It’s hard to be self-critical when you are practicing gratitude. While this isn’t a forever cure, it forces me to focus on all the positive things in my life.
Instead of having a voice that drags me down and causes doubt, I allow it to drive me to be better. It’s important to reflect and seek areas of self-improvement, but it is just as important to celebrate all the positive aspects of yourself.