One day I was going through some of my childhood things, which had been stored at home in Kenya, to sort out what I wanted to keep and what I was ready to let go of.
It was quite an emotional thing to do; looking through old photos, report cards, letters, ornaments, finding my sticker books, toys I once had and adored, even my old diaries from my teens – which was quite an eye-opening experience.
There was the usual teenage talk about which boy at school I was in love with, which seemed to change on an almost weekly basis! But what left me feeling sad was the way I spoke to myself. There were pages about how much I disliked my body and wanted it to be something else. Loads on how much I didn’t want to be me. Some of this can be attributed to teenage hormones and angst I’m sure, but I also realise how this negative self-talk paved the way for so much of my teens and twenties. I was on a constant journey to lose weight, battling with my natural body shape and size. I was never happy with myself and compared myself to others frequently. Everything I did came from a place of unhappiness, thinking that if I changed who I fundamentally was, then I would be happy.
As I’ve shared, this was reflected in the way I treated myself. What we say to ourselves really does shape the way we live on a daily basis.
Throughout my twenties I’d pinch my belly and look at my dimply thighs, telling myself how disgusting they were. I’d get frustrated with myself if I couldn’t wear a certain size of clothing or if I hadn’t lost any weight within a couple of days of following a controlled diet. I’d tell myself I have to do better. I’d feel guilt and shame for food and alcohol binges and tell myself I was weak and that I had no will power.
Over time I’ve consciously and slowly changed the way I speak to myself and would be ashamed to talk the way I did to anyone else or even out loud to myself.
Rather than focusing on the negative I congratulate myself for the good and try to see the positive in any situation.
I try to be kinder and more compassionate and talk to myself as someone I care about and only want to give the best to. It was hard at first and I had to pretend I was someone I cared about initially, but it got easier over time.
Have you ever stopped to notice what you tell yourself on a daily basis? What thoughts run through your head when you are looking in the mirror. When you perhaps get something ‘wrong’? Can you talk to yourself in the same way you would someone you love?
This blog post is an excerpt from my book, Embodied. You can get your own copy of Embodied here or anywhere you buy your books online.
Photo by Lê Hoàng on Unsplash.