Do you feel lost, anxious AND happy? Me too. Let's figure out why.
I’m not good enough for her/him.
I’m not outgoing enough to meet her/him.
My friends will think I’m stupid.
I’ll only disappoint my parents if I do that.
Dear long gone darlings, do any of these sentences sound familiar? In my mind they are, at times, earsplitting; echoing and bouncing around my brain on a daily and weekly basis. The internal monologue we let unfold within us is the one thing that directly influences our actions and how we relate to the world. Whether or not we like it, the script that we’ve chosen to believe creates the kind of person we become.
I am very concerned about this. I have been privy to a few conversations lately with close friends about their fears and desires for employment, love, and general happiness, that seem to be derived from a lack of self-worth. Let me first clarify that these are people I admire; they are intelligent, strong, warm and generous people. Theirs concerns mirror mine; I worry that I’ll never make an impact, never find the right kind of love, or even find a place where I truly belong. What’s worse, is that over the course of their confessions to me, they have identified that they know it’s their problem; something inside their beautiful brain seems to trigger episodes of emotional catastrophe or self-sabotage.
Huh?! WHAT?! How could these intelligible people carry so much hurt, self-deprecation and anxiety? It breaks my heart to see the clarity in their eyes when they say: “I know it’s me, I know I do this.” Using manipulation, rather than honesty, they see themselves blaming their partners, friends of family for ‘not caring’, not paying attention or reacting in a certain way to their outbursts of emotional frustration. I, too, am guilty of hinting at requests for help; of asking through suggestive, as opposed to assertive, language. What is dangerous about this behavior is that it becomes a cycle, an endless pattern of repeated attempts to connect with those around us; we believe that asking for help is ‘too much trouble’ when really it is the one thing we all yearn to give.
Internal monologues are scripts we learn from our parents when we are little children. Our social cues comes from the family unit, and the first thing we need to accept is that this is not our fault. Whether or not you were encouraged to ask for help or pushed to succeed or even told to mind your own business: it is not your fault. You are the arbiter of your own body and mind, which includes how you choose to talk to yourself. Today is the day that you take responsibility for that and everything it implies. If I catch myself saying, “I don’t think I’m good enough to get that *thing I want*”, I stop that train of thought in its tracks with an anvil. Engraved on that anvil is one of the following strategies:
The “What if?”
This one is so easy and only takes a second to implement. Ask yourself, “What if I WAS good enough? What if I could do that?” What this does is allow you to generate and imagine alternatives for yourself and the problem at hand. The best part: there’s no commitment. By imagining what you could do, you open the door for what you will do.
Hold the Vision, Trust the Process
This one is a little more involved as it asks for a bit of creativity. Firstly, picture what it is you are striving for, which might be something as simple as choosing not to pick a fight with your significant other. Now, make that your goal in every interaction. Think to yourself: “I will not pick a fight, I will do whatever it takes to talk this through.” By making the choice to go against ingrained behaviour, you give yourself permission to change. The second half of the above quote (Trust the Process) refers to understanding and believing wholeheartedly in the steps required to get you to your vision. If we take the aforementioned example, in order to avoid an argument, you need to listen to your partner and communicate. How do these things happen? By actively paying attention to what they are saying and engaging in conversation. This is where trust is crucial; trust that it is going to work. If you do not believe in it, it won’t come to light.
Ask for what you need, not what you want.
This one is related to what I mentioned earlier: manipulating people or situations to get what you need, rather than finding a way to ask for what you need directly. I am well-versed in asking for what I want, we all are, that’s the blessing and the curse of living under high capitalism! Asking for what I need, however, should be the easier option, but more often than not it’s scarier. The key is to find a unique way to ask for what you need from those around you that is true to who you are. For example, I try to use humour to ask for group hugs if I’m feeling down. Or I’ll approach a particular person who I know will not say no. It all stems from understanding and believing that everyone in your life is on your side. If they’re not, they need a stern talking to! Each of your friends has a special toolkit of things designed to help you, so put your faith in their ability to deliver and you won’t be disappointed.
Easier said than done, I know.
We are all a process, a being comprised of hundreds of networks all trying to work together towards one goal: a happier, healthier ‘you’. That little voice nattering away should be just as supportive as your best friends, your partner or your family. You are in control of what it says so take the effort to rewrite your inner monologue as a more positive, encouraging and meaningful script.