I remember people joking about messages in Lizzie McGuire and other Disney shows – “Believe in yourself.” It sounded so cheesy, so silly – foolish, even. But actually, it isn’t. It’s some wisdom that Disney was tryna drop on us, and we threw it on the ground. Maybe some people absorbed it, but, growing up in Christianity, I was taught to believe in God – not myself. Only myself through God. Which never fully made sense to me. And, while I’ve received a lot of encouragement from the people in my life, I’ve heard many people I loved talk to themselves negatively – criticizing body parts or actions, beating themselves up. This broke my heart. I saw that these people didn’t deserve that. But everyone has to find it for themself.
Example 1: Your bills were due yesterday. You forgot to pay them. In the moment you remember, what do you say to yourself?
- “Oh shit, you idiot, how could fuck this up?!”
- “Okay. Fuck. It’ll be okay. Just pay it now. You can’t change it.”
- “Fuck the bank, they don’t deserve your money.”
Hopefully we can all agree that, while many of use might feel c, b is the healthiest option.
But so many people choose a. Too many. If you call yourself an idiot, sooner or later you’re going to believe it. In the same way, if you consistently call yourself a genius, you might become a megalomaniac. Of course a balance is key in this, but a healthy, positive self-image is an integral piece to achieving any type of happiness or success.
Example 2: You wake up with a massive pimple on your forehead. Looking in the mirror, you tell yourself –
- “You’re a hideous monster. No one will ever love you.”
- “This will pass. You are more than your face. I love you. You’re worthwhile, regardless of your blemishes.”
- “You already have the face of a goddess, so this is hardly an issue. You are the best looking human on this planet.”
I think we can once again agree that, while c is a fun option, b is the healthiest.
An angsty high school mirror photo – a time when I only said negative things to myself and overtweezed my eyebrows.
And once again, it kills me every time I hear people say things like option a to their reflection. While it may seem ridiculous to tell yourself, “I love you,” it makes such a difference. And, once you begin, sooner or later you’ll start to – if you don’t already.
Some days are hard. People can suck and make you feel like shit, and your mind can do this to you as well. Sometimes I feel like I just don’t want to. Really anything. I just don’t. But then I catch it, I stop my freefall, and I look in the mirror and I say, “I love you. You are worthwhile, intelligent, strong, brave, beautiful, etc. You can.” And, even if I don’t believe it in my head, seeing myself say those words to myself actually does something in my brain. And I feel a lot better. I believe myself. And then I believe in myself. And that’s not cheesy at all – that’s necessary for me to function as a healthy human being.
Now I play dress up and spray fake perfume on myself. It’s better for everyone this way.
Society seems to place more value on what other people think of us than on what we think of ourselves. While the opinions of others can hold some weight, what actually allows for a healthy mental and emotional state is a positive self-image. It’s a beautiful thing, the self-image, something that can be curated carefully and cultivated into exactly what you wish it to be. Developing this actively is a lifelong pursuit, and it doesn’t stop once you make your self-talk positive. Having it allows for comfort in your own skin, realistic ideas of who you are and what you can accomplish, and the ability to love others well.
See, to love others as you love yourself, you’ve gotta love yourself. And it all starts with what you say to the person in the mirror. You can.