Self Affirmation // 3 Women + Their Journey Toward Self Confidence
June 8, 2018
You’re not good enough.
You’re not smart enough.
You’re not wanted.
There’s a mean girl living in my brain, and all she does is speak negativity on repeat. There are times her voice is louder than others, but try as I may to ignore her, she doesn’t seem to go away. Even one of my girlfriends who I view to be one of the most confident women — who holds her head high and makes decisions without second-guessing — has admitted to me she has her own personal Neuro Negative Nancy. These voices of negativity are holding us back, it’s time that we figure out how to quiet them.
I have recently heard a buzz about people using positive self-talk to improve their confidence and self-worth and that it was actually quite effective. So the LIY team and I [this is Becca, by the way] decided to give it a try. Below you will find the experiences of three women, taking three different approaches to self-affirmation and honest thoughts on how practicing positivity affected our mental spaces. It’s our hope that you will take a look at our experiences and that it might inspire you to step out of your comfort zone and give a new mental health habit a try. Mental Space: High Expectations
I hold myself to inordinately high standards. I expect myself to do the right thing in all situations, and any falling short of that means beating myself up for weeks, months or even years to come depending on how big I fail. I expect myself to succeed at work, at home, and well, actually in all situations. And when I let others down, it is an extra hard dose of self-loathing. My head knows that everyone makes mistakes and it’s impossible for me to expect perfection out of myself, but still I continue to hear that inner voice of “Why did I do that?”, “How could I say that?!”, “I am such a failure” or “I’ll never be good/smart/pretty/disciplined enough.”
I am tired of listening to that voice. So I have decided to try and literally drown it out with positivity. Using my own voice to affirm myself that I am enough and that no one is perfect! I am hoping that along this journey I will find a way to make peace with my mistakes and to let myself off the hook just a little.
I wrote some mantras, so to speak, on post-it-notes and stuck them to my bathroom mirror. Each day when I found a moment to myself, I would look myself in the eyes and tell myself out loud that my loved ones don’t expect me to be perfect, and that I can’t expect myself to be perfect either. I would sometimes say something that I was currently kicking myself for and verbalize that I forgave myself. To be honest, this was pretty uncomfortable, especially at first. I felt a bit like I was an actor memorizing lines because I am so uncomfortable with saying positive and encouraging things to myself.
After a week of practicing positive self-talk I can’t say that negativity in my head is gone, but I have definitely noticed a difference in my response. As soon as I hear the all familiar negative voice, the next thought that automatically pops into my head is “I can’t expect myself to be perfect”. It’s a definite improvement from where I was before. I definitely plan on continuing this habit to see how much more I can change my mindset over time.
If you struggle with high expectations for yourself, I would highly recommend “Present over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist. This book really spoke to my heart and helped me to start giving myself a little bit of grace.
Hi, I’m Erin and I constantly tell myself that I am not capable or smart enough to complete this, that or the other. I am realizing that as I get older, this lie has started engraining itself deeper and deeper into my brain. The number of times I have caught myself saying “I can’t do that…I’m not smart enough…She’s an expert, I’m not…” in response to ideas or thoughts that others have thrown out recently is too many to count. I back down to being brave and adventurous to new projects because I believe that there is no way possible that I could accomplish such a thing. I’ve become a victim of the “perfect” scandal where we believe we have to know 100% about everything before tackling anything. It’s paralyzing, exhausting and not life-giving.
To help end these lies about my intelligence level or ability to do something, I did a couple of things [apparently I needed a LOT of help ;)] To begin with, I started admitting out loud what I’m struggling with. Instead of simply quietly allowing an idea to pass with no real reason as to why, I would admit that my hesitations on moving forward are stemming from my belief that I don’t possess the ability or smarts to do it. The ironic thing about this is however when I would start to say those words, my brain would start to believe differently and all of a sudden rather than having a suppressing feeling internally that I CAN’T, I started to think “well wait, why can’t I?! Maybe I actually CAN…” Additionally, I started journaling. While my goal was to write every day, the reality is that I didn’t successfully make that happen, but when I did, I would simply write 1-2 things down that I was proud of that I accomplished that day. This allowed for me to get in touch with the reality that “hey – I do have things that I am capable of and smart enough to accomplish.”
While I still have room for growth in this department, being aware that the feeling of being incapable is a struggle for me has been so freeing in itself. It’s amazing what being honest with yourself and others about your struggles can do for alleviating some of those inner lies. As much as I love journaling, I believe that talking about it 0ut loud with friends and family has been the most helpful resource in this experiment. There is power in admitting your struggles and I highly encourage you to try it. You may be amazed at how empowered you feel after doing so.
I recently purchased Girl, Wash Your Face after hearing SO many positive things about it from hundreds of women in our community. The tagline alone on the cover “Stop believing the lies about who you are so that you can become who you were meant to be” drew me in because YES, THIS. I also picked up this “I’m Doing My Best” journal to write down my daily Additionally, this 100 Days to Brave devotional has been jam-packed with helpful nuggets and mindset adjustments during this journey.
Mental Space: Rejected
I’m Steph, and I’m a self-rejecter. That’s right, SELF-rejecter. I am so blessed to be surrounded by loving, supportive people yet constantly in social situations I feed myself lie after lie of not being accepted. “Don’t offer up your ideas, no one will like them.” “You’re not as _______ as everyone here, you don’t fit it” [You can pretty much fill in that blank with anything, unfortunately, that thought happens a lot!]. The only person treating me that way is me. In fact, if someone else said things like that to me I would respectfully yet emotionally distance myself from them because I don’t deserve to be treated that way – No one does. So why do I allow myself to treat me that way? The self-rejection stops now.
Rather than allowing myself to be consumed with these lies, I will cling to the promise I know is true – I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am uniquely who God designed me to be, and I am accepted by Him.
The music I listen to can have such an impact on my overall mood and mental space. I have found that when my mind is consumed with self-rejection I can push those thoughts away by refocusing on the words of songs that speak truth to me. When I begin to feel those thoughts flooding my mind, rather than submitting to them, I turn to music that reminds me about Who always accepts me. Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher is one of my most frequent listens because it speaks so much to how I need to rely on God in times of temptation to think ill of myself.
I’m sure there will always be a part of me that struggles with feeling like I don’t quite fit in (it’s human nature I think), but I can confidently say that this process has made me more aware of this tendency and therefore quicker to redirect myself into a more positive space.
If you are someone who struggles with feelings of rejection, I highly recommend “Univited” by Lysa Terkeurst. While I could not relate to the root cause of Lysa’s rejection, several parts of the book felt like she was speaking words directly from my mind – and realizing there are others that feel the way I do is a great first step in feeling accepted.
Even though the process of creating a positive mental space starts with you and you alone, it really is more effective when we support each other along the way. The voices that echo in our heads are not easily silenced, and we need all the help we can get! If you are interested in joining our team in this journey towards self-confidence, let us know! We want to be here to support you through this. Let’s all link arms, and kick that mental mean girl to the curb!
Where ideas and aesthetics meet, Becca is our creative mastermind behind the brand. As LIY’s Creative Director, she is responsible for curating the content you see on the blog, the designer of our Life + Style Planner, and keeps LIY moving forward in new and exciting ways. With a desire to see the world [and all of the Gilmore Girls episodes on repeat] Becca is happiest traveling the globe or at home with a full glass of wine in hand.
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