Words have always fascinated me. The power of a good book to transport me to other worlds, or the way song lyrics can make me feel emotions so deeply that it brings me to tears. I think a lot about the power of words, especially when it comes to inner thoughts. How does the way you think affect you? Can it have the power to negatively or positively influence your life?
There have been studies done and books written about the power of positive thinking. However, positive thinking didn’t seem to be that monumental of an idea to me until I put it into practice in my own life. Like many people, I have struggled with self-confidence. I have worried about what people think of me since I was in grade school. It can be exhausting and very limiting. I have heard of positive affirmations and other techniques to increase confidence and promote self-love. However, until the beginning of this year I never really put any serious effort into changing the the tone of my inner dialogue.
Since January, I have taken a few steps to improve the way I view myself. Some of these steps were conscious and some I didn’t even realize I was taking. Most of my effort has been focused on changing my inner dialogue and the way I talk to myself. I started by hanging up some notes around my apartment in places that I look every single day, like in my mirrors or in my medicine cabinet. They say things like “you are beautiful inside and out” or “the way you look does not define who you are.” I also wrote little notes to myself on my mirror using a dry erase marker, like “be kind to yourself today.” Reading these notes every day, even absentmindedly, slowly started to change the way I thought about myself. The next step I took was actively changing the way I talk to myself. I don’t necessarily talk to myself out loud, but when I consciously thought about my inner dialogue, I realized that I speak very negatively to myself. “Wow your skin looks rough” or “jeez this shirt makes me look fat.” Stuff like that. Once I started recognizing these thoughts, I would catch myself and change it to something more positive. I started actively making positive inner comments to myself about myself. And I’m telling you, the power of positive thinking is real.
It sounds weird and complicated and slightly psycho, like I’m hearing voices but I promise if you try it, it can change the way you see yourself. Since I started being nicer to myself, I’ve started loving myself more and it is amazing. Once you are happy with yourself, you stop caring so much what others think and you feel the freedom to make decisions with only your happiness in mind, not what others will say or think about you. For the first time since I was little, I find myself doing things without wondering how I look in the eyes of the people around me. I feel more comfortable trying new exercises at the gym, or going out to dinner with no makeup, or posting things on social media based on what I want to share rather than how many likes it will get me. Sure, some people might be talking about me or laughing if I look ridiculous, but the main thing I have realized is that what other people say or think about me does not have to have any bearing on my life if I don’t let it.
Now I’m not saying that I love myself all the time and I never notice my flaws or I’m never too hard on myself anymore; I’m definitely not perfect. I’m just more conscious of it now. And I’m more conscious of the way it affects me. And I’m more conscious of my power to change it. Self-reflection is a wonderful thing and everyone should be spending at least a few minutes every day reflecting on their goals and what they’re doing to reach them. One of my goals that I wrote down at the beginning of the year was to stop caring so much about what other people think. 5 months into the year, I feel like I have made some solid progress towards that goal and it has had a positive impact on my happiness and my anxiety level.
I started this post talking about the power of words. Often, my blog posts are the result of me seeing a quote and it sticking with me. When this happens, I usually reflect on it for a little while and then I realize I want to share my feelings about it. A few days ago, I saw a quote that said “If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, then why would you say it to yourself?” It made me stop and think. Since then, every time I’ve had a negative thought about myself I imagined saying it out loud to my best friend. I would never say “”Wow, you look fat in that shirt” to her, so why would I talk that way to myself? I had been focusing on positive self-talk for a while already but this quote really put into perspective just how important it is.
Positive thinking is already affecting my life. It affects my outlook for my future, my decisions in the present, and the way I feel about myself. I started this process to improve my self-confidence, mostly regarding certain aspects of my appearance that I was uncomfortable with. Gaining more self-confidence has lead to other benefits such as not being so anxious about making decisions regarding my future and realizing that I don’t have to settle for anything. I can go after whatever I want. At the beginning of this year, I felt lost, anxious, and extremely stressed. Now, my situation hasn’t changed much but I feel optimistic and excited for new opportunities. I’m excited for the chance to learn, fail, and grow from the experiences. Sure, I have my (many) moments where I still doubt myself but recognizing those moments and talking myself through them positively has helped me tremendously. So if you’re unhappy or needing a self-esteem overhaul – try changing the way you think, and it could change the way you live.