Imagine yourself walking down a lengthy, narrow hallway; the ground, the roof, and the walls are covered in every pessimistic thought and every disesteeming remark that you had ever said or believed about yourself. Your eyes would linger on the words that had left the widest wounds and the sentences that had held the sharpest sting. Even a few steps down that hall would leave you feeling defenseless against your own mind.
You would never reach the end of the tunnel.
Oftentimes, I find myself concentrating on what others think of me: Do they think my hair looks weird? Does she like my outfit today? Oh my gosh, he must think I’m so stupid!
All of the assumptions I make and negative comments I take to heart only add to my fatalistic self-image. Focusing on the way others perceive me makes me feel like a disappointment; I am never good enough.
Every day I fixate on the things I could never do, the person I should be, and the things I can’t forgive myself for. I reprimand myself for making meaningless mistakes, saying silly stuff, and doing dumb deeds. I feel embarrassed when I mess up or perform a task incorrectly, and I feel foolish for forgetting to say things or stumbling over my words.
Instead, I should be focusing on the things I have done, the person I’m working towards becoming, and the mistakes I have corrected. Again and again, I have to remind myself that my faults do not define me. Although some people may judge me based off of my flaws, I can choose to see the good in myself. I can choose to be happy with who I am, proud of how far I have come, and hopeful looking towards my future. I can choose to laugh at my carelessness, to giggle at my forgetfulness, and to smile at my craziness.
For a long time, I didn’t even realize that the adverse way I treated myself was gnawing at my positive self-image. My negative thoughts and words kept me from participating in class, believing I was too stupid to know the answer. Those thoughts kept me from hanging out with my friends, believing they didn’t care about me. Those thoughts made me feel miserable, lonely, ugly, and dumb. They made me feel like someone else entirely!
That is why choosing to trust and love yourself is the only way to keep negative thoughts, feelings, and words at bay. Choosing to keep a positive attitude, even when you fail or mess up, is the key to becoming more confident in your own skin. It’s not easy to steer your unfavorable thoughts in a positive direction, but it is a necessary step to showing yourself the love you deserve.
You may be your own worst critic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t become your biggest enthusiast and most significant supporter.