If you have a Pinterest account, you are probably used to seeing pictures like the following appear in your feed:
These quotes and phrases are so pervasive on Pinterest that they occupy their own category on the site. They are usually written in indie, hand-written fonts that fall on some kind of nature backdrop. They are words we can all probably get behind on principle, and they spread like wildfire.
But what if in the midst of all of these beautiful thoughts, something less hopeful also existed? Something more like this:
The natural response to seeing something like this on Pinterest would probably be a deep gasp followed by screaming, NO! WHO MADE THIS?! STOP THE INTERNET! STOP IT!
That image up there is ridiculous. I should know because I made it.
We know that negative messages like this one are not the sorts of things that the world needs more of. It's frightening to imagine our friends, siblings, or children reading, and possibly believing, something that might reduce their sense of self-worth. We know that for them to believe such things would be akin to a lie. That is why we have so many kind people layering nice statements with cute fonts atop backdrops of lakes.
It's a good system. I have no problem with it.
At the same time, while we don't want these thoughts entering the minds of our loved ones, we tend to have no problem letting them fester in our own minds. Where we see a statement like "you are the worst" as being profoundly untrue for our best friend, it doesn't seem like such a stretch in regards to ourselves and our own mistakes. I would argue that many of the things we would never say to other human beings, we often end up saying to ourselves.
This is called negative self-talk.
I'm sure you've heard of it before.
I'm sure you are morally against it.
If you're like me, I'm sure that doesn't stop you from doing it.
The reason that this behavior is so easy to perpetuate is that it exists in secret. When you call yourself an idiot, you don't have someone else there to tell you how crazy that sounds. So then that negative thought meets another negative thought, and they breed to create even worse thoughts. It's a tough cycle to break.
But what would happen if we offered the same forgiveness to ourselves that we offer to the ones we love? When they make mistakes, we tell them all of the ways that it will be okay. When they express that they feel less than confident, we respond by saying that they are beautiful, gifted, and loved. And we're not lying.
Yet we believe we are kidding ourselves if we offer our minds hope. We assume that any kind words we say to ourselves must be lies, but they are actually the opposite of lies: anti-lies, or as some might call them, truth.
There is a reason that images like these are so cringe-worthy. To juxtapose horrible comments with such lovely depictions of the world seems antagonizing, criminal even. Feel free to lock me up.
But before you do that, let's make a deal. Let's try this week to catch ourselves in the lies we want to tell ourselves, and let's instead pile on a bunch of truth. The kind of truth you tell your friend when she's hurting -- tell that stuff to yourself. Let's stop making our minds a breeding ground for negativity because that's just gross. Instead, let's make it a battleground where all of those lies lose in a really unfair fight, and then let's just all be awesome and, I don't know, have some cake or something.
Do you have any other tips for fighting negative self-talk?
Leave it in the comments-section!