I know most women think those things about themselves, too. It’s easy, right? There are so many messages out there telling us we aren’t good enough — not now, not ever.
But I’m startled by how many smart, talented, funny, bright, loving, beautiful women I engage with readily put themselves down, out loud, often and regularly, especially in the presence of other women, and even in the workplace.
One person says they’re fat, and suddenly everyone’s talking about how they’re fat. Insulting yourself is just so simple, and when those thoughts are bouncing around in your head, all the time, without fail, sometimes it’s all too easy to let them come spilling out. When one person starts, it’s effortless to just pile on with your own self-doubts, too.
Suddenly it feels like we’re all bonding. “We all hate ourselves in these ways, but at least we’re not alone in hating ourselves.”
But I really think it does more harm than good. Saying something negative about yourself is bad enough in the first place; but sharing your insecurities in a way that isn’t constructive or helpful just seems to make an already bad feeling worse.
I can’t tell you how many times, as a fat person, it’s been that much harder to hear my thin friends talk about how fat they are — when I’d have chopped off my own arm to be even close to their size. I assumed them saying that they were fat meant they thought I was ginormous, when in reality, their thoughts concerned them and them alone and had nothing to do with me. So, although we might have felt like we were “bonding” over sharing our insecurities, in reality I ended up leaving conversations feeling even worse about myself than when the conversation began.
Which is not to say I think it’s easy to stop being negative, or to stop feeling these things. No matter how beautiful, rich, successful, talented, smart, and caring we are, we always tend to think the absolute worst about ourselves.
The best we can hope for is a bit of a reprieve. And sometimes the only way to do that is to draw a firm line in the metaphorical sand and say, “Enough is enough.”
We can do this by…
Vowing not to speak our insecurities out loud. Self-bashing and self-loathing simply has to go. It’s not healthy (nor fun) to hear yourself say terrible things about yourself, even if you think them. It makes it feel too real; it makes it seem like these things are true, when they’re not.
Actively complimenting ourselves when we can. It sounds silly, but we must. You may not be able to wake up every day and feel beautiful, but on the days when you do, capitalize on that. Say it out loud! Replace those negative things you’d have said with something positive, even if you’re only ever saying it to yourself in the mirror.
Refusing to engage in any kind of self-hate session, even if it’s with our friends. Can we please, please, please let go of this idea that it somehow feels good or makes us closer when we say crappy things about ourselves? Because no! No, it doesn’t! There are millions — literally millions — of things we can bond over. Talking about how we don’t have thigh gaps should not be one of them.
Refusing to let our friends say negative things about themselves. Whenever your friend starts to say she’s an idiot, tell her she’s not. And mean it. When your friend starts to lament how her stomach jiggles or her nose is too wide, tell her that’s not true, and she’s lovely, and mean it then, too. It will make you both feel good in ways saying negative things never could.
I’m not an unrealistic person, and I know we’ll never get rid of negative thoughts about ourselves entirely. I just want us to try to lighten the load. Just a little, one day at a time.
In what ways do you try to minimize your negative self-talk?