Did you know that what we say to ourselves is often more hurtful than anything an enemy would say to us? In fact, if someone else were to judge and criticise us to the extent that we judge and criticise ourselves, we would probably never speak to them again!
So why are we so hard on ourselves? Well, it’s all to do with the subconscious mind. The subconscious part of the brain is responsible for our breathing, our heart beating and all the things we do ‘on autopilot’ – in other words, all the things we are unaware that we do. The dangerous part of self-talk is when the repetition becomes an embedded habit which can have a negative impact on our lives for decades. It’s time to put an end to this self-sabotage.
When we look after ourselves, we are better equipped to look after those around us. A level of self-interest is essential for a satisfying life, yet so many struggle to put themselves first.
Why is this? It’s because no one wants to be labeled as selfish. As a society, we get hung up on the word ‘selfish’. We don’t like selfish people. We admire humility, and rightly so. Those who are truly selfish lack consideration for others. Most people I know are not selfish, in fact, they are the exact opposite. They give so much, to the extent that they lack self-interest and self-compassion. Parents especially tend to ignore their own needs in favour of looking after their family.
I became aware of just how difficult it is for some people to believe in themselves and invest in themselves when I introduced an exercise at the beginning of one of my workshops. I asked the participants to tell me one thing that they loved about themselves. Silence descended on the room. There was a reluctance to announce self-praise. Everyone feared being judged. I told them, and I tell you now, “You will be judged anyway, so you might as well hear criticism about something positive you said, rather than something negative someone else said about you!”
I am aware that this can be confronting. We have been told all our lives not to blow our own trumpet. However, many people still need to find a balance between self-deprecation and self-praise.
Looking back, I can see that for most of my young life, I was a people pleaser. I didn’t consciously set this as a goal. I was responding to the lessons I had been taught: put others first, turn the other cheek, pride comes before a fall, it’s rude not to share, etc. Where I went wrong, was that I believed I had to be passive or aggressive, selfless or selfish. As I matured and began to understand these teachings in more depth, I realised that I could be kind and assertive; generous and have an element of self-interest. When I did finally take responsibility for my own life and my future, I felt empowered in the true sense of the word.
This dictionary definition says it all: empowerment is the authority or power given to someone to do something; the process of becoming stronger and more confident especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.
It is important to remember that we are all the same on the inside. We have good days and bad days. We have worries and joys. We have struggles and breakthroughs. We are all searching, and we all find life difficult, we are trying to do our best with what we know and what we have. Let’s give ourselves and each a break. Let’s work towards empowering ourselves and one another.
We all have things that hold us back. It took me a long time to realise why I wasn’t getting what I wanted from life, and I don’t mean material possessions – I’m talking about self-esteem, growth, inner peace and a sense of purpose to name but a few. However, once I acknowledge that I lacked self-belief, I needed guidance, my communication skills were poor, and I didn’t understand the power of my mind, only then did my world begin to change.