About a week ago, The Husband challenged me to do something he had heard about. It seemed like a really good opportunity for me since along with changing my physical appearance, there are a lot of others ways I’ve been working on myself and part of self-care is learning to treat yourself well.
The results of the challenge were surprising. I expected to discover that I was a bit hard on myself, but since I have been working hard on transforming myself inside and out and most of all, working on allowing God to transform me, I was shocked to realize how hard I must have been on myself before. I can only shudder to think of what the challenge results would have looked like a few months ago!
Before I give you my challenge results, I am first going to issue you the same challenge. It’s simple and may give you as much insight and help as it gave me.
You will need:
-an index card or scrap piece of paper
-a pen, pencil, crayon, marker, lipstick, or other writing implement
Draw a line down the center of the paper. On one side write “positive” on the other write “negative”. Now during a 24 hour period (or 48 hours if you’d prefer to get a multi-day sample), just be mindful of the thoughts that come into your head. If they are positive self-talk, add a tally mark to the “positive” column. If they are negative self-talk, add a tally mark to the “negative” column.
Examples of positive self-talk might include:
“I’ll figure this out.”
“I can do this.”
“This shirt looks pretty good on me.”
“I handled that well.”
“That supper was delicious if I do say so myself!”
Examples of negative self-talk might include:
“I’ll never be good enough.”
“I will never be able to do this.”
“I don’t look good in anything I wear.”
“I am such an idiot.”
“I am so fat, ugly, stupid, frumpy, absentminded, boring, less than (or whatever other insult you can throw in there).”
That’s it! It’s a simple exercise but I think you will find that it provides quite a bit of insight. Not only will you discover if you are thinking more positive thoughts than negative ones, you also may notice patterns that correspond to those thoughts.
I noticed that my thoughts were very much influenced by things others said to me, how others reacted to me, how successful I was at the tasks I was working on, whether I had eaten, how much water I had had, whether I had exercised, what the environment was like around me, whether I had music on, how much time I had spent with God that day, and a host of other factors. These observations will help me in my goal of achieving more positive self talk and less negative.
Here are my results from one sample day:
(Yep, they are approximately 10:1 in favour of negative self-talk!)
Honestly, I was appalled at my results. “They” say that with your children, you should be very careful to give 10 praises for every correction you give. I have also heard over the years that one negative can cancel out as many as ten positives. After trying this challenge over several days and noticing that my results were better some than others but still sadly skewed, I thought a lot about how messed up my kids would be if I treated them the way I treated myself. I mean, can you imagine if I gave my kids ten negatives for every positive? They would need a lot of therapy in the future!
And though I may not be saying these things out loud, my self-talk is observed by my kids in other ways. While doing this exercise, I noticed that sometimes my negativity about myself does escape my lips. I also have a hard time accepting compliments, something my kids no doubt are learning from. For their sake and for mine, I need to improve my self-talk. I am working on it.
This brings to mind that scene in a movie where Rodney Dangerfield is looking in the mirror and says, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me”. While I haven’t yet started talking to myself in the mirror, I do feel that I need to take action to change my self-talk. Being more aware of it has been my first step and that has helped already as has making changes to my environment (praise music, upbeat music, light, my tone affecting my children’s tones, getting exercise, nutrition, and enough water, etc.). I plan to redo this in a few months to see how far I’ve come.
So are you ready to take the challenge? I’d really love it if you’d share your results or something you learned in the comments section. Let’s encourage each other on this journey!