Who You Are

I am not smart. I am not worthy. I am not capable. I am not deserving. I don’t work hard enough. I’m not from the right school or family. I am not.

I could go on and on about who or what I am not. In fact, I can bring up feelings of who I am not that I can’t even put words to. More often than not, I tell myself I am not something. Why? That is the negative, fixed mindset that I have overcome and continue to battle.

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Unique and Great

Our society does not embrace anything about anybody being unique. The goal we are taught from a very young age is to be like these people we are told should be our idols. We are taught to be like other people. Uniqueness is not celebrated.

Greatness is more often than not only considered being achievable when you’ve accomplished what society says success is. There are only a few people who are typically recorded as having achieved greatness in their life.

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Your Thoughts Will Run or Ruin Your Life

Once you can see your thought you can start to change them.

 

I have lived within my thoughts all of my life. My thoughts ran and at some points, ruined my life. We have been programmed without even knowing it and that programming turns into our thoughts, both unconscious and conscious. These thoughts are what contributes to how we act, our anxiety, our depression, and what we pursue.

Kara Loewentheil teaches about thought work and how to differentiate your conscious from unconscious thoughts while being able to release their hold on us. From her, I have learned how to take a step back and really review the thoughts that are hurting me.

Kara recommends taking time each day to simply write, with or without intention. When you write out the thoughts that are stuck in your head, you get to see them on paper where you can review and analyze them. When the thoughts are stuck in your head, analysis isn’t as easy. The process of getting our thoughts onto paper and analyzing them gives us a degree of separation. When we are observing our thoughts purely in our mind, there is no separation.  When we put them onto paper, we are able to separate our thoughts from ourselves.

Kara said, ” Your brain doesn’t know how to stop thinking something. You have to give it something else to think instead.”

By putting our thoughts on paper and then analyzing them, we are able to give our brain a different perspective to think about. We are able to use the analytical part of our brain on the thought rather than just the emotional part. The ability to analyze our thoughts isn’t something that comes easily. This is a practice we must adopt.

After I listened to a training and a few podcasts from Kara, I implemented a half-ass version of her recommendations. Even with doing my half-assed version, I have been able to process my thoughts better and analyze why I’m so pissed off or hurt about situations. I have been able to identify that some situations that I’m ruminating over are really not about me at all. I was able to realize that the lay-off I went through had nothing to do with me. Nothing. It wasn’t a reflection on my efforts in my role at all. I’ve been able to look back and see thoughts that were negative and harming me and where they were coming from.

To be honest, I haven’t done my thought work daily and that’s okay. I do sit down to work on my thoughts any time I have an overwhelming or negative thought. I make sure that if I am hurt or pissed off about something, I do at least my half-assed version. Why? Because if I don’t, those thoughts will run my day or my life and may even ruin a good thing.

I’m not perfect in my thought work and I still have a lot of work to do. What I can tell you is that this practice is worth it and just might change your life or release some of that anxiety you are feeling.

Here are a couple of Kara’s recommended steps and questions to use.

Steps:
1. Set a daily time on your calendar for 5 minutes (Yup, all she recommends to start with is 5 minutes!!)
2. Just write until the 5-minute timer goes off.

Questions to use:
1. When did the thought occur?
2. What was happening?
3. What is the exact thought I’m having right now about this?

Kara recommends getting concrete and specific. I recommend adding another question to ask: Is this thought coming from a place of fear? If so, what is the underlying fear?

When doing thought work, you will start to get really familiar with what your negative thoughts are and where they are coming from. This will give you specific areas that you can work on through your personal growth journey. By doing this thought work, you will be able to realize what thoughts are holding you back from releasing the anxiety you are experiencing.

One last question to ask yourself, “What would it feel like to show up and feel absolutely confident about yourself?”

**You can find out more about Kara Loewenthiel’s teachings on thought work at her website or on her podcast.  I listen to her podcast through Google Podcasts.

What is the best thing that can happen?

Our immediate reaction to something new is usually “what’s the worst that can happen?” It is ingrained in our culture and everything about our lives to ask what is the worst thing that can happen. It is the glass half empty outlook.

I’m going on a hike by myself, what’s the worst that can happen? Get mauled by a bear, kidnapped, etc.

I’m switching my career, what’s the worst that can happen? Fail at the job, hate it, etc.

I’m starting my own business, what’s the worst that can happen? Crash and burn, lose everything.

Instead of asking, what is the worst that can happen, let’s flip the switch and start asking “what is the best thing that can happen?”

I’m going on a hike by myself, what’s the best that can happen? Time in nature to clear my mind and get amazing pictures. Feeling rejuvenated.

I’m switching my career, what’s the best that can happen? I prosper and find a new passion.

I’m starting my own business, what’s the best that can happen? The business keeps growing and becomes the best thing I’ve ever done.

When we flip the switch and start asking what is the best thing that can happen, we start seeing the good. We allow ourselves to be hopeful and dream. The glass is half full. Maybe it is even a full glass.

When we switch what we are asking ourselves, we change where our focus lies. We go into whatever we are going to do with a positive outlook. We see the possibilities in life.

My husband, bless his heart, lives by the saying “hope for the best, expect the worst.” This is living by only looking at the worst that can happen. It is a very negative mindset. And to me, it is flat out depressing.

If I’m always expecting the worst, I’m going to get the worst. I truly believe that what you focus on is what you receive. If you focus on the worst, you are going to receive the worst.

I am changing my thought process one day at a time. I have historically imagined situations and gone down the “expect the worst” rabbit hole. It creates turmoil within myself with situations and people. It sets me up as though I know a person is going to treat me like shit and the event is going to be hell.

Every single morning as I am getting ready, before I turn on my audiobook, my mind automatically starts building these situations and negative events. It is a habit I’ve had since I was a child that starts without me even realizing it.

The trick is to catch it before the imagined situation gets too out of hand, too stressful, too negative, or too depressing. Most of the time I imagine others mistreating me. Why? I don’t know. I have no fucking idea and I wish I did.

Just this morning I stopped one. I caught it quickly and just said no. I said no over and over again until the thought disappeared. It isn’t easy to do.

I’d like to retrain my brain to start daydreaming of good things. Of my dreams coming true. To start daydreaming about what is the best that can happen. I want my outlook on everything to become “what is the best that can happen?”

How do I do it? Slowly and piece-by-piece. We can’t change how our brain thinks with the snap of our fingers. But we can change our thoughts one thought at a time.

So, ask yourself, what is the best that can happen?

I Will Never….

…be able to run again.

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Those were the first thoughts I had when I sat in my chair to do my Start Today journaling. My first thoughts were about what I don’t have and won’t have the rest of my life.

Most of us are wired like this. We are wired to see the negative in absolutely everything. It is more difficult to see anything positive. It’s as though our minds are wired for negativity.

We can change that. I changed that thought.

I changed my “I will never run again” thought to “I’m thankful I am able to walk without the pain I had.”

Changing your thoughts takes practice. I can honestly say I still have a long way to go with improving my thoughts, but the fact that I was compelled to immediately switch that thought this morning gave me all the feels.

I felt progress. I felt immense gratitude. I felt happy. I felt the love I’ve developed just for walking.

I may not be able to run again, but dammit, I can walk. I can walk more than 2,500 steps a day without feeling like wanting to rip my hips out. I can walk over 10,000 steps a day once again. I can schedule vacations and events that require walking and standing without worrying how I’m going to sit down the whole time.

I may not be able to run, but I can move my body. I am grateful for the improvement I have and grateful for being able to see the good over the negative.

Talking to myself…

Have you ever considered how often you talk to yourself? I do it ALL the time. Seriously! There are times that I am thinking about something and I’m in a public bathroom and find myself audibly thinking about it. Yup, random people just caught me talking to myself. Embarrassing right? For me, not as much as you would think. I mean, I probably won’t ever see these people again. I have to admit though, I haven’t always been able to shrug that embarrassment off.

But that isn’t the kind of talking to myself that I want to talk about here. I want to talk about all the negative shit I have ingrained in my mind to tell myself. I am probably one of the biggest offenders of telling myself how stupid I am. Yup, I do that ALL the time. But why? Why did I get started talking so horribly to myself when I wouldn’t even imagine telling someone else they are stupid?

We all have things we tell ourselves that aren’t exactly the nicest and we need to stop. Ha! But that is easier said than done. Am I right? Of course I am! I’ve been struggling with this for as long as I can remember. I’m sure if you are still reading this, you are as well.

So many of us blame our self-talk on the circumstances of our upbringing. Again, I’m an offender here. I was not raised in an encouraging household. In fact, there was more fighting and bullying than there was love. But my parents never looked from the outside in to see what life was like, they just kept living and talking the way they always had – negatively. I learned that life was shitty, our circumstances were the fault of everyone else, that my extended family hated us, that only the spoiled rich people made it in life, that all I was expected to do in life was graduate high school before getting pregnant, and that my good grades were nothing to be excited about or rewarded for.

Now, I’m not saying I blame my negative self-talk on my parents. I’m saying that is where I learned it. No matter where I learned it, I have continued to do it. Not only have I continued to do it, I very often take whatever I say to the extreme. Why? I don’t know, it just happens. I’m very critical of myself (that is a completely different topic for a later time). I mean VERY. In fact, some of my most recent negative self-talk would include things like:

  1. I’m so fucking stupid, I can’t even cook bacon without dropping it
  2. My family can’t even trust me to get decorations that they get the caterer to do it
  3. God, I’m so ugly, my hair is out of control
  4. Family doesn’t want to be around me unless I am presentable and done up

Do any of these sound familiar?

Those all came through this mind in the past couple of weeks. Look at you, reading this and thinking “damn, that girl is harsh!” If you stop and think for a minute, you may not say these same exact things, but you might tell yourself something similar, right?

We seem to constantly criticize ourselves using some of the worst self-talk. It is really difficult for some of us to be understanding of ourselves and not criticize ourselves every turn we make. But how do we get get that point? How do we get from happy kids to being over-critical of ourselves?

For most of us it is learned. I think I learned negative self-talk before I learned how to be supportive of myself. Learning how to switch from negative self-talk to positive self-talk isn’t easy.

When we talk negativity with or to ourselves, we impact our quality of life. Have you sat and thought about how difficult your life feels? Have you ever connected how you feel about life to how you talk to yourself? Probably not. I hadn’t. A lot of us think that our life is so difficult because of our circumstances – how we were raised, the education we received, the way our family is, etc. Changing from blaming my parents to taking ownership for the way I speak to myself has been a long time coming and is consistently a work in progress.

We are a product of the way we think and the way we talk to ourselves. I know, I know, the way we were raised has a big impact in and on our current life, but we can change how it impacts us. The way we describe our feelings and circumstances affects how we deal with our life each day. Think about this simple situation, the weekend versus Monday. Most of our world hates Monday. It is ingrained in our society. But what if you didn’t hate Monday? How would your life improve?

The feeling we put into our thoughts and self-talk determines our every move. When we are more critical of ourselves, we bash on every single misstep we have. But if we are forgiving of ourselves, dropping bacon while cooking isn’t that big of a deal. Do you see what I’m saying?

Self-talk isn’t something we can fix overnight. I PROMISE. I did some heavy personal development for a couple years and I was rocking and happier than I’d ever been. Then life hit and my drive to read/listen/watch personal growth outlets dwindled as my stress level went into overload. That was definitely the most critical time for me to continue, but I didn’t. I let the irrational thinking back in my daily life. I let negative self-talk rule me. It didn’t help that I was going through infertility treatments that kept not working. Those hormones and treatments are seriously life changing, even without success.

I took that opportunity to tell myself how much of a failure I am since I couldn’t even get pregnant and there was no medical reason preventing it. Enter the harshest self-talk I think I’ve ever had. Completely irrational. I didn’t realize the residue I was leaving in my subconscious every time I called myself a failure. That residue can be subtle, but it adds up and becomes completely dis-empowering.

All that negative self-talk adds up. Even the simple thoughts of not having enough time. I am a repeat offender on this one. I put so much pressure on myself and am ALWAYS telling myself I don’t have enough time. Even writing that sentence spurred anxiety of not having enough time. Negative self-talk is everywhere and applies to absolutely EVERYTHING we tell ourselves. Seriously, everything.

As Gary John Bishop says in Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life, “We create our own reality with our minds.”

I have created the reality in my life that I’m worthless, a horrible person, lacking for time, not good enough, and more. It doesn’t matter that I heard a lot of that growing up. I was ALWAYS in trouble for not being of service to absolutely everyone. I was taught to put myself aside to make sure everyone else had what they needed. I was taught that since I was born in a poor immediate family (yes, in my world, that needs clarified), I would never be good enough to be successful. Success was tied to be raised with everything you needed and being handed everything in life. Oh how my parents were wrong.

I have a long way to go to overcome the lies I keep telling myself and that I reiterate from my childhood, but if I try a little every day, I know I can change the way I walk to myself. I can change the way my life is (not that it’s bad, but there are days I feel like it is). Notice, there is a lot of I going on there.

I don’t need to find the answer to all of these things I tell myself. There is no answer out in the universe. The answer lies within me. I am the answer. I am the change my life needs. I need to retrain my brain. But I have to be willing.

But being willing doesn’t give me action. Saying “I will change” does nothing. I have to actually do it. I’m not talking about reciting affirmations every morning that are pre-baked. That works for some people. But for some, it does not. I’m talking about shrugging off dropping a piece of bacon or not giving a shit what my family thinks about if I put makeup on or not to go to the aquarium. I have to own who I am, flaws and all, and not speak negatively to myself for every little thing. Is it going to be easy? No. Am I going to change over the next couple hours or overnight, no. Am I going to regress sometimes? Oh absolutely.

We have to make a decision and follow through changing our self-talk. How am I going to do it? One step at a time. One day at a time. One minute at a time.

Are you with me? If so, let’s have a conversation. In the comments below, tell me what are your biggest negative self compliments. How are they shaping your every day life?