a-modern-lady-speaking-kindly-to-yourself-tutorial-positive-self-speech

Start Speaking Kindly to Yourself (How to)

Beloved readers, it occurred to me that I’ve never explained why I refer to you as such. There is in fact, a specific reason I refer to my readers as “beloved.”

It’s not because I want more subscribers, views, people to like me, or I’m just that awesome. (You can ignore that last one.)

Why?

It’s because I was raised in a culture of negatively oriented speech (at least here in the USA). Being indoctrinated in the negative, “snarky,” and the outright verbally vicious from birth, teaches us (even as children) to develop a negatively oriented manner of interpersonal and intra-personal dialogue.

By “negatively oriented” I don’t necessarily mean using coarse language or saying unkind things, though that’s certainly part of it. I mean: quick to notice and exaggerate or speak to flaws, rather than naturally orienting our thoughts and thought patterns to the positive.

I take the extra seconds to type “beloved readers” because I want my blog to be at least one place in a woman’s life where they are called something kind and lovely. That’s why.

I actually mean it.

When is the last time you honestly, internally, in the midst of all you had to do for the day, called yourself something kind in your usual thought process? Not when you catch your reflection in a store front window and feel that day’s outfit is #OOTD worthy.

Not when you do something smashing on the job or in the domestic realm (a great presentation or batch of flawless cupcakes). I mean in the everyday mini-chats we have with ourselves in between rushing to Starbucks, beating the evening crowd to Whole Foods, getting a great parking spot at the Farmer’s Market, trying to conquer your ever-growing to-do list, keeping up with friends and family, and pleasing your boss:

Do you speak kindly to yourself?

It’s hard not to for “That Little Voice” in all of us to lean closer to cruel than kind. It’s not a surprising norm in our world of unrealistic beauty standards, snark (misconstrued as “wit”), and the slow death of common manners and general etiquette in the public sphere.

An internal, negative orientation is HIGHLY damaging and reflects outwardly (it cannot be hidden). Fidgets, poor body language, a lack of emotional endurance, a lack of patience (with yourself and others), over or under eating, “retail-therapy,” a lack of self-care, an infatuation with your appearance, etc.  

It Takes Time

Just as it took years of conditioning to master negative self-speak/self-talk, it takes time to nurture the opposite and retrain the habit of negative thinking patterns and internal dialogue. That’s okay.

I clearly remember, being four years of age, looking at myself in the mirror and declaring “Ugly, ugly, ugly!”  To this very day I have no idea how, at such a young age, I knew my looks were non-commercial; but, somehow I did.

Consider that I did not have Barbies, TV had not yet entered my world, and my family didn’t have the funds to immerse me in “Disney-Princess-Universe” at the time. I received praise for my good manners, good grades, and artistic ability from adults in my life. Never was being a “pretty little girl” or “so cute,” presented to me as a necessary or even potential “status.”

Yet…somehow–at four years of age–I “knew” I was “ugly.” Not only that, I was comfortable enough with the idea to say to my own face out loud and often.

These patterns start EARLY.

I never appreciated how early, until I did a bit of introspection of my own, while writing this post. I shed a few tears. I admit it. These kinds of things are heartbreaking!

So Now What?

You may be thinking: “Great. Apparently I suffer from a negative Little Voice in my head, it’s been that way for YEARS, and its going to take time to fix–if I can get it to stop telling me I can’t. Thanks. Now what?”

I’m going to share what helped me start to recognize these patterns and begin changing them. I hope it proves useful to you.

Truth and Delivery

That Little Voice in your head, however negative, can speak with a bit of truth.

That’s why it can be so hard to ignore!

Maybe you are chronically late, uncoordinated, overweight, poorly socialized, dealing with too much debt, lonely, etc. Regardless, That Little Voice, is prone to over-exaggerating  those (temporary) attributes–or telling you that you can’t change them, period.

That’s the part to be silenced. Once I started separating the slivers of truth that were present and discarding the rest, I was able to gain a more balance sense of self, and self-reflect positively. I didn’t ignore my faults, but I wasn’t overwhelmed by their existence any longer, either. No longer paralyzed, I could more forward and change.

Actions Speak Louder

So how did I go about “correcting” my mind’s habit of chasing the negative, after identifying and breaking the pattern of negativity, you may wonder, beloved readers?

Surprisingly, not by “focusing on the positive.” That didn’t cut it for me.

I couldn’t find anything positive to start from within myself and the daily negativity from family friends about everything from my weight, to my skin, to my hair, how I walked, how I spoke, and everything in between was not making it any easier to see the “positive.”

Nope, that wasn’t going to fix the problem, and I knew it.

I was pragmatic as a child and I’m pragmatic to a fault now as a young adult. I needed a more “practical” approach. Something I could measure in some way.

So I started chasing the sources That Little Voice drew its ammunition from. I cut the “supply lines.”

It wasn’t easy:

  • I started trying anti-acne regimens (eventually undergoing Accutane therapy which changed my life).
  • I changed my diet.
  • I started exercising.
  • I lost weight.
  • I retrained my biological clock regaining a healthy circadian rhythm.
  • I began supplementing.
  • I re-examined the medicines I was being given and researched natural alternatives.
  • I grew in my Faith.
  • I developed new hobbies.
  • I found clothes that better fit my (changing) shape.
  • I became better with a make-up brush.
  • I began retraining my mannerisms.

Yes, all combined, this took years. However, by recognizing the truth in what That Little Voice may be saying–despite the terrible delivery—and taking practical steps to address those issues, I immediately began providing myself with something I’d never had before in my internal dialogues

–a rebuttal.

I provided myself with new material–positive material–to think about.

You can, too.

a modern lady i am speak your name

I Am (Speak Your Name)

This may seem like an odd question, beloved readers, but:

when is the last time you’ve spoken your name?

I’m not referring to the times you offer it as an answer, when given a prompt by another person. Then it’s just an answer to a question, a means to an end. I’m not referring to the times you give it to another person, as an obligatory piece of information for their benefit, during an introduction.

I’m not referring to times when you are using it to do anything that requires you to identify yourself to pay a bill, make a purchase, or otherwise complete an errand.

When is the last time you have “spoken” your name, not “given” it?

Simply stated: “I am…”

Don’t answer yet. This might seem rather useless until you try it, with absolute sincerity.

I stood before a mirror one day and tried this. It had be full length of course, for maximum effect; what effect, I had no idea at the time. Feeling ridiculous,  I blurted my name, shattering the previous silence.

Bright early morning sunlight flooded my room and lit up my mirror, as if on cue my two-dimensional twin responding in kind, to my silly grin. What struck me is that I did not make eye-contact with myself as my name passed betwixt my lips. I tried it again. This time, I fought to maintain eye contact with myself. I succeeded.

Despite my success, I felt disturbed. Why did I have to fight with myself, to make eye-contact (with just my own reflection no less), when it came to my name?

Suddenly what was a silly exercise in building presence, just a 30-second item on my To-Do List, became a serious issue.

Further more, why did I lower my voice, however slightly, when doing so. What lurked in my subconscious that caused me to glance away from my own reflection (and others, I admitted to myself) and lower my voice slightly when saying my own name?

That was the question I mulled over that day, as I quickly pulled my eyes away from my mirror, grabbed my keys, and with purse strap over my shoulder, dashed out the door. This odd inquiry-of-the-self followed me about, like a hummingbird, as I went about running errands, going to class, and doing chores.

Every spare moment I had that day–zoning out through boring parts of lectures or standing in line–I reviewed times I stood on stage and gave my name for auditions, or as a formal introduction to a group.

Surely, said my Ego, I, of all people, who had acted (once–no #humblebrag intended) before a crowd of 700+ had no issues with saying my own name. That reasoning was not good enough. In class, while driving, while cruising through store aisles, that excuse, no matter how many times I rehashed it, simply was not enough.

That was a cop-out.

I knew full well that the adrenaline that made stage performance so pleasant for me, gave me a boost that nullified whatever it was, before my mirror, in the privacy of my bedroom, that caused me to glance downwards and lower my voice when speaking my own name.

The name crafted by my loving parents to give me an identity, a sense of self, sounds born of my native tongue that I could wholly and completely call my very own–why could I not speak it as I did on stage?

Without conviction, without guilt, or self-consciousness?

As a stood before the mirror again, the late afternoon sun as subdued as my mood, I noticed my carefully crafted posture shifted when I said my name as well. I was thoroughly put off by this.

In the split second that these actions happened, I was sending a message that those I spoke to received. The knowledge made me wince. They more than likely, read it subconsciously, and couldn’t have articulated it, if I’d asked them to; yet, it did have an impact on how they interacted with me.

I had to admit to myself, as bitter a pill as it was: The message I had been sending for years was not a good one.

It didn’t say: I am confident, calm, poised, friendly, and outgoing. That’s what my body language on stage said.

This was not a play.

During a performance I knew how everything would end, what everyone would say, and that I would earn and deserve the applause at its end. This was real life. (Ugh.)

I was in the one role  I did not audition for and could not turn down if I tried.

The role of Me.

I realized there was something about that role I did not like. There was something about being me I did not like.

There it was.

Laid out before me and my reflection: Unlike a character that I didn’t care to play, I couldn’t put this script down.

The message I sent to those I interacted with, in a split second of brutally honest body-language, was as telling as that sent by an actor that cannot hide how much they hate a role to the audience. A role they took simply to pay the bills.

I don’t like her.

That girl, that one I just spoke of, her.

I don’t like her.

That is the message I sent. That is what deep down, I knew I felt. I saw goosebumps rise on the arms of my reflection. My mirror diligently and dutifully reflecting the words burning in my dark eyes, the truth:

I hate you.

Yep. That was it. Buried under so many years of being a straight A student, the eager volunteer, the creative, the nerd, the bookworm, the dramaturge, a gamer,  a daughter, a cousin, a friend. Under it all–I hated myself.

Fleeting sunlight pierced half-open blinds marking a boundary between us–the original and her reflection.

I wasn’t content.

I wasn’t content with hating myself.

I was not content with lowering my voice and shifting my gaze, if even for only half a second when I spoke my own name.

No.

I could see the question playing in my own eyes as the sun rapidly set and my reflection began to dim.

A hint of challenge flickered in the identical onyx pair of eyes in front of me.

What had started out as a silly exercise, something I hardly took seriously, had put me in a place I had avoided for ages: a place of truth and deep self-introspection. The lack of which–I had to finally acknowledge–had come out in odd ways. My difficulty in even saying my own name had proved it.

The sun slipped before the horizon, my room faded to black, and the dark left me with something precious:

 A choice.

I could continue being someone that could not state my own name without feeling awkward, even alone, to no one but, myself.

OR…

I could become someone who could say my name as a declarative sentence, with full confidence and peace because I liked–loved!–all that it represented.

Someone who could say the name that was meant to mark me as separate from all others. The four words of the billions spoken, given to me by loving parents, of the millions that are my very own.

I could say my name like someone who loved herself.

 

 

 

So, random question, but…when is the last time you’ve spoken your name?