I believe that we all have a story that we tell ourselves about ourselves.
The story is a script of what we perceive to be our capabilities and our limits.
I think most of the story we tell ourselves about ourselves are things we have absorbed from others.
From childhood someone praised us about our talents or encouraged us, and we accepted what they said and in turn felt proud of ourselves.
Likewise, someone may have criticized things about us or mistreated us and we accepted what they said and convinced ourselves that there was something wrong with us.
In both cases the key thing is that we accepted what was said about us or done to us as a reflection of who we are.
People are going to say things about you and do things to you, sometimes they do it with the purpose of helping you, sometimes they do it with the purpose of harming you and sometimes they are ignorant to the way it is affecting you. It is important that you realize that you do not have to accept every word that is spoken and every action done as a reflection of who you are.
When someone speaks negatively about you and you absorb it, you have to ask yourself what is going on, on the inside of you that a negative comment was able to resonate with you in such a significant way.
I have reached a point in my life where when someone says something about me and I absorb it, I view it as life’s way of sending me a signal to take a moment to examine myself.
You see I believe that the things, people and situations that come into my life are my mirror.
They show me things about how I perceive myself. And so I take notice of those things and determine what life is trying to show me about who I currently believe myself to be and I take the time out to assess whether or not my perception lines up with who God calls me.
The concept of how a negative perception can affect a human being is well depicted on the American TV show Hoarders.
If you listen to the stories of the people on the show, the way they feel about themselves on the inside is as messy as the home they live in.
This is because as a person feels on the inside becomes what surrounds them on the outside.
But to take things deeper, I recall one day I was at the grocery store and a couple was standing in front of me and the man was very rude to the woman. He would cut her off every time she spoke and call her names. It was a very uncomfortable situation and it really bothered me to watch their interaction.
After they left people said “Wow he was so mean to her what is wrong with him”. I peered deeper and realized she must have thought very little of herself to be so mean to herself as to allow him to mistreat her, and he must really not like himself that he lets all his self loathing out on another human being in an attempt to build himself up. As I watched that situation of two people mirroring their self hatred before me and I acknowledged that it bothered me I had to stop and ask myself why.
You see when I say it bothered me I don’t mean it bothered me only in the moment the situation occurred. No, I mean it bothered me for days after. So I did some soul searching and realized that at that time there was someone in my life who was showing me that I wasn’t being kind to myself. The person who was in my life was mirroring my lack of self love back to me because I allowed them to treat me with disrespect.
In my case the couple before me were a mirror of a toxic relationship I had in my own life.
I think that anytime something happens to you and it impacts you in a significantly positive or negative way that you can use that to show you something about yourself. And to even go a step further, I subscribe to the belief that even neutral situations where we don’t express any judgement shows us areas where we most likely do not have any work to do and are areas where we are healed or have never received harm.
I try my best to take the time to ask God what it is that He is trying to show me about my life. I don’t always knowingly receive an answer but I do try to examine myself.
However, I do not want you to misunderstand what I am saying. I don’t take this to an extreme of believing that I need to take every single thing that I see or hear around me personally.
Rather, I take the time out to look at the condition of my home, my body, my finances, my relationships, my work life and overall surroundings and I ask myself what is going on, on the inside of me that I feel comfortable in my environment. If everything is nice and in order then what is going on inside of me is nice and in order. If I am hanging around negative people then what is going on inside of me is negative.
To further clarify it isn’t so much of what happens to me that I use as a gauge (I have perfect strangers be rude to me that is their issue not mine I do not accept that) it is what I accept and how I behave that I use to determine how I feel about myself.
I had someone call me a bitch. I know that I am not one. I am a female- yes, but I can assure you that as much as I love dogs I most certainly am not a dog. I decided that they were mistaken because I do not identify with that term and I chose not to respond.
In that moment they showed me that I do not see myself as a female dog and I rejected what they called me as a falsehood. Had what they said upset me then it would have been life’s way of showing me that somewhere in myself I agree with that term as a description of myself.
Alternatively, I have people tell me that I have excellent customer service skills. I believe that to be true. I accept what they are saying about me because I know that I have a servants heart.
And then there are the times when I am critiqued. Like when my kids let me know where I need to improve as a parent. I know that they are correct. It doesn’t mean I am a bad person, it means I need to correct a behavior.
Four things typically happen when life reflects ourselves back to us.
- It is true and we accept it.
- It is true and we reject it.
- It is false and we accept it.
- It it false and we reject it.
Situation 2 and 3 are the situations that we need to take caution on.
The situations can happen in both the positive and the negative.
Someone can tell you that you are beautiful and you don’t accept it or someone can tell you that you are being rude and you are, yet you don’t accept it.
You have to take pause and ask yourself what is the story that you are telling yourself that you are rejecting the truth about who you are or about your current behavior.
Alternatively someone can tell you that you are stupid and you accept it or they can tell you that you are right in mistreating others and you accept it.
You have to ask yourself what is going on in your mind that you are accepting untruths and calling them truths.
When we reject the truth and accept a lie it is often because we see ourselves as victims.
We don’t want to take responsibility for where we are in our lives because that means that we need to change something about ourselves for our lives to get better.
It is far easier to blame everyone else for what is going on in our lives. The only problem with that is our lives will never get any better until we do the work of changing ourselves.
I will be honest, when I first came to the realization that I needed to take responsibility for my life I was mad at myself for the mess of a life I had created. I became depressed and thought ‘Great, here is yet another thing wrong with me – I don’t even love myself’.
But, I was looking at my responsibility wrong.
The fact that I am responsible doesn’t make me powerless.
No, it means I am powerful. Because I have within me the power to change my life to the way I want it.
If I don’t like the way things are going in my life, God has granted me the ability to change it.
When I started taking responsibility for my life I recognized the power of perception.
How we perceive things is very important.
Have you ever noticed how two people can watch the same thing and have two totally different perspectives of what took place? That is because of their perception. How one perceives things is based on what they believe.
That is why someone can come into a room and annoy everyone else and you can get along with them or alternatively everyone can like the person and yet they rub you the wrong way.
The way you feel about people, situations and things is showing you bringing you an awareness about yourself.
I have negative words spoken over me and some of them were not true, but when I heard them I held on to them and I believed them.
The question is why.
Why did I believe the negative things that were said about me especially when they weren’t true?
It was because I had a script running through my mind that I was less than the person God called me to be.
I didn’t see me as God sees me.
Anytime we see ourselves less than how God sees us, we are believing a falsehood about who we are.
And anytime we behave in a way that is contrary to who we are called to be, we are acting out of character and that is why it doesn’t feel right.
Over the years I have learned that while I will always have things that I can stand to improve, I have to be cautious of what I accept as true.
For example it is true that sometimes I don’t pay attention to others when they are speaking to me and that I am often distracted.
What isn’t true is that I can’t focus.
I don’t allow it to go into my script that I cannot focus.
I reject that.
I accept that I need to work towards focusing on others when they are speaking to me instead of playing with my phone or continuing to read a book and I am taking steps to do so.
As people bring things to the light about ourselves we can wallow in what they are bringing forth and have a defeatist attitude or we can acknowledge what was said and examine ourselves to see if there is any truth to it and if so we should work to improve it. Additionally, if upon examination we find there is no truth to what is spoken then we need to reject what was said and not absorb it.
Anytime we accept falsehoods or reject truths our perception of ourselves is distorted much like it is when one views themselves in a fun house mirror.
If you have find yourself blindly accepting everything people speak over you, you have to stop it.
Furthermore, I regularly speak with people who find themselves searching for love outside of themselves hoping that someone will validate them and make them whole.
If you have followed my blog for any length of time then you are aware that I know that move all too well, for I have been there, done that and have the T-Shirt to prove it!
I encourage the people that I speak with to learn to love themselves for who they are, the way they are. I tell them this because it is what I have found to help me to heal myself.
I had to forgive the people who hurt me, whether they hurt me on purpose or by accident. And I also had to forgive myself.
I wanted to move forward and I couldn’t began the process of getting to where I want to go until I started doing the work of releasing the negative things that I believed about myself.
I had to flip the script and speak life into myself.
I also had to stop looking for love outside of myself because I realized it was a waste of my energy.
And I had to stop using other people (especially men) as a way of measuring my worth. It was silly to allow another flawed human being to have that kind of power over me.
But for some reason I was telling myself a story that caused me to believe that there was something inherently wrong with me.
The truth is that if I am 100% honest, in the beginning, my rationale for becoming a better version of myself was because I wanted a healthy romantic relationship. I wanted it because I thought that if I could obtain a healthy relationship that it would prove that I was lovable.
Thankfully, I am now clear on the fact that my journey for loving me – is for me. If no one else on the face of the earth thinks that I have value – I am still valuable. Because I have decided that I value my opinion of myself over that of anyone else.
I am thankful that as I have taken steps to love on myself that my purpose in doing so has changed.
I am doing this solely for me.
In the beginning I don’t think I was fully cognizant that my purpose was for the wrong reasons, but I am humbled to know that God still allowed me to get on the right path for I don’t think I would get to where I want to go as long as I was waiting for someone else to give me a stamp of approval.
For some the notion of doing something for themselves may sound selfish but I think that it is good for me to put myself first when it comes to my life.
I am the only person who is always going to be with me. I have to live with myself for the rest of my life. For this reason I think it would best serve me to choose me.
And that isn’t being selfish, rather it has caused me to dwell in an area of self-fulfillment.
As I actively choose to positively alter the inner image of myself it has resulted in me valuing myself more and I absolutely love it!
I have become more conscious of what I am putting in my body and started exercising, because I value my body more.
I feel compelled to further emphasis: I am not exercising and eating healthier out of a dislike of my body, rather I am doing it because I do like it, and I want it to be at its best!
I value my mind so I have been doing things to keep it sound. I find myself listening to classical music, doing brain exercises, and eating nutritional food with the intention of keeping my mind sound, because I care about it!
I am a better friend, family member, coworker and neighbor because I have chosen to do the work of loving me.
I started believing in my capabilities.
I realized that the things that I thought I couldn’t do, I most certainly can.
I may not know how to do something, but the truth is I most certainly can do anything that I need to do to be my best self.
I simply had to flip the script and start speaking positively about myself.
I needed to accept both consciously and subconsciously that mind, body and soul that my mind, body and soul were created for greatness.
We are creatures of habit and I had a habit of telling myself a story that I was unlovable. I chose on purpose to create a new healthier habit of telling myself that I am indeed in lovable.
And as I did, I started to perceive myself differently.
I am accepting that it is okay to love me right now the way I am today.
I don’t have to make more money or lose any weight, the woman I am right now today is absolutely lovable.
I am worthy of love and when I started to accept that truth I started to fall in love with me.
It doesn’t matter if anyone else agrees with me about who I am, I do.
On March 1st I began an exercise of speaking positive affirmations to help me shape the way I view myself physically in a more positive light. While I don’t see myself as ugly I definitely have insecurities about my looks that I would like to overcome.
I chose to do this exercise because I want to take the time out to heal myself of the negative things I spoke and believed about myself growing up. I also wanted to forgive the younger version of myself.
Because like everyone else, I was simply doing the best I knew to do at the time. I didn’t know any better, but now I do.
Something beautiful happens each time I look in the mirror and I speak positively about myself – I fall in love with myself in a deeper way.
And I don’t simply mean my physical body.
No, as I look into my own eyes and call myself words like beauty, love, confidence, grace and desire – I find myself falling in love with all of me (mind, body and soul).
I smile at myself as I call myself those words and it feels good.
This love have resulted in me forgiving myself for the mistakes of my past because I am truly loving myself flaws and all.
I have had time to really think about some of the falsehoods that I have been telling myself.
And I have started stepping outside of my comfort zone.
I am learning that things I thought I couldn’t do, I can do.
I am becoming who I was born to be and I love it!
I know that this will be a life long journey but I have to tell you so far this adventure has been absolutely amazing!
I think that I have been waiting my whole life to love on me and now that I am doing it, it feels great.
Accepting who I am and embracing where I am at has caused me to start a love affair with myself that I never want to end.
It is my sincere hope that you are having a love affair with yourself as well and if you aren’t I hope you find the courage to start your marvelous adventure as soon as possible.
© Renata Pittman, Renata Smith, Renata Nicole and RenataNicole, 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Renata Pittman and RenataNicole with appropriate and specific direction to the original content