The New Year is always a time for reflection and I learned a lot about myself in 2014. I learned that, actually, I can do a whole load of stuff if I set my mind to it. I learned that if there's one word to describe me, it's determined. I learned that I can really push myself. But I also learned that actually, I'm not particularly nice to myself on a day to day basis.
OK. Time for some real talk. Hands up who has referred to themselves as "an idiot"? Who's called themselves "stupid" or looked in the mirror and said they looked "disgusting"? Who has described their behaviour as "pathetic" or "ridiculous"? Who has called themselves "useless" when they've failed to do something trivial? We all do it. And we all do it too much. Every woman I know, at one time or another, has spoken to themselves or about themselves in a way they wouldn't even dream of talking about their loved ones. This is having a massively negative impact on their lives - on our lives. And it has got to stop.
Negative self-talk is an epidemic that is particularly prevalent amongst my generation. There are so many pressures to be perfect, to live life to the full, to seize every opportunity that comes our way, sometimes it seems like we are setting ourselves up for failure. And that's where our inner monologue can become cruel and unreasonable. First up - it's important to say - we are not failing. We're hounded by bad news stories of an apathetic generation with little to no direction but when I think about some of the incredible people I know who are around my age - be they friends, colleagues, family - I am in awe of their strength, courage, spirit, determination, drive and dedication (yeah, damn right I'm talking to you reading this, you're an absolute ROCK STAR).
So how do we combat this culture of negative self-talk? How do we deal with it, so that we can become healthier, happier people who are more kind to themselves? Or are just as kind to themselves as they are to others? I've been reading around this topic for a while now and I've gathered up a couple of ideas.
• Be forgiving. You don't have to be perfect all the time. You don't have to get everything right, every time. To paraphrase pretty much everything that's ever been written about challenges, ever - these things are sent to try us and they are what makes us into stronger human beings. So next time you make an ill-judged joke in front of a colleague, fall over on the bus or even something a bit bigger, don't beat yourself up over it. Take a breath and, in the immortal words of Taylor Swift, Shake it Off. Listen to the song too, if it helps.
• Talking of breathing, being mindful is also a really good way to check the negative thoughts when they creep in. There's an exercise I learned from meditation app Headspace where you visualise all of your thoughts as trains passing by. You watch them move past you, but you don't engage with them. That's the way we should approach negative self-talk. Engage with the positive thoughts and let the negative ones about yourself continue their journey elsewhere. The more we do this the less frequent those thoughts will be, and the only trains stopping at your station will be carrying good vibes.
• Celebrate. Let's face it, we're British, so celebrating our own achievements is not high on our agenda. We're all guilty of entertaining bad thoughts about the things we've done, but what about all the great stuff we've done? These don't have to be things like running marathons - some days getting out of bed is an achievement! Pulling on your stuff to go to the gym is a win in itself! Making that delicious dinner for yourself - chalk that up as a reason to give yourself a bit of praise. Because let's face it, little victories build up to something bigger. And you're working your backside off, so take a moment to celebrate that.
• Don't give up. Something is bound to come along that will make you feel rubbish and let those thoughts creep back into your life, so don't punish yourself when this happens. That is a sure fire way to get back into the crippling vortex of negative self-talk. If it happens a couple of times - let it. Don't be consumed by it. And don't give up on trying to beat it. Take every day as a new opportunity to be brilliant and to be kind to your badself.
What are you waiting for? Give yourself a pat on the back - you bloody well deserve it.
Originally posted on www.alicemaypurkiss.co.uk