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.)
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
I provided myself with new material–positive material–to think about.
You can, too.