I’m not pretty.
I’m not popular.
I’m too fat.
I’m not talented.
Family counselor J. Allan Peterson, in his book “Better Families” says, “Research shows that for every one negative thing you say to a child (or to yourself, I believe! – ben), you must say four positive things to keep the balance.” In my experience we are too slow to praise others or ourselves. As the attacks on ourselves pile up, it can get hard to find four times as many positive things to tell ourselves to balance things out.
We ADDers are extremely creative and resourceful, which are great talents to have. Unfortunately, sometimes that creativity gets channeled into new and different ways of putting ourselves down.
Self-awareness is the key to stopping the tide of negativity. First, recognize that you have two “voices” inside your head. I think of them as my “good” and “evil” voices. When your “evil” voice tells you negative things, let your “good” voice speak up and tell the other one to shut it. Don’t know what I’m talking about with the voices? Think it sounds a little crazy? I promise you, I am not! Take the time to listen to what goes on inside your head and soon enough you’ll see that there is a dialogue going on inside your head. Just be sure to listen to the positive you!
Next time, your “evil” voice starts coming at you with negativity or criticism, out loud, say, “I’m not listening to this nonsense! I might not be the smartest or fastest or the best looking, but I have other things to offer!” Then list the things you enjoy doing and that you are good at. Try doing this exercise for a week and see what happens. Keep having the dialogue with yourself until it becomes a habit.
It will get so that any negativity that your pessimistic side tries to throw at you will go in one ear and out the other, and that’s where you want to be. And don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that when you’ve legitimately done something wrong and experience a feeling of shame and remorse that you should dismiss that, but what’s important to learn here is to tell the difference between an actual mistake and beating yourself up because you think you don’t fit some kind of a societal norm.
Second, understand that you are truly hurting yourself and that all that internal negativity is extremely harmful to you both mentally and physically. The old school-yard saying of “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me” is sadly completely untrue. I would even go as far as saying that a constant stream of verbal abuse is much more harmful than having someone hit you with a stick or throw a rock at you. (Of course we’re not talking about a tree falling on your head or a boulder steam-rolling over you or anything – in that case, yeah, that would be really painful!)
Last, but not least, remember that life has enough challenges without us giving ourselves a hard time. Give yourself a break and concentrate on building and encouraging yourself, not tearing yourself down. We all need and deserve a kind word a few times a day. Even you Packer fans (you know I love you, yes I do).