Being Our Own Encouragers

Lately, I’m on the move. I’m driving from district office to the school buildings and walking in and out of meetings. I’m sitting in my car finishing a call and thinking about stuff during my commute to work. It’s during the transitions or seemingly mindless parts of my day that my mind is actually very full. When brushing my teeth or taking a shower or folding laundry, you name it, during the stuff that can be done on autopilot, that’s when my brain goes into overdrive.

Normally, I’m so busy with all of the thoughts in my head, that I don’t stop to question some of my thoughts.

And some of my thoughts are commentary on myself. As a human being. As a professional. This week, I noticed some thoughts that are not OK. I discovered thoughts that were not kind or constructive or accurate, and it made me stop and realize.

Whoa.

Is this how I’ve been living? When life is especially hectic and stressful, is this how I’ve been talking to myself?

A lot of my self talk is centered on “should have.” You should have caught that, you should or shouldn’t have said THAT, you should have done that differently.” But then there are the more aggressive thoughts such as:

You could never do that person’s job. You aren’t brave or strong enough.

They are a lot smarter than you. So, keep quiet and go with whatever they say.

Something bad is going to happen this school year and you won’t know what to do.

You can be really annoying sometimes. And too much. Pull yourself together.

I’m typing these types of things out for a few reasons. To start, bringing them into the light allows me to examine them more closely and realize how hurtful and unproductive they are. Also, by writing them here on this blog, I hope to inspire you to take a look at your self-defeating thoughts, so you can start talking back.

I would NEVER say those things of things to another human being let alone someone I love. I’m not judging the thoughts. Instead, I’m noticing them, and I’m speaking back.

My current response is not profound or even inspiring. It’s simply, “No, I reject that.” Or “No, you know what, I deserve better than that.”

I’ve never been the girl who writes mantras on her mirror. But maybe it’s time. It’s like that old SNL skit, “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough and gosh darn it, people like me.”

Because here is the deal. The world is going to keep humbling us. If we are truly watching and listening, it should humble us. If we are truly doing work that matters deeply, that work is going to be messy, and it will humble us. So, it’s not like speaking affirmations into our lives is going to make us arrogant.

Affirmations help us be OK when what’s going on around us is not OK.

So, how might you stop to notice your thoughts? Perhaps during a part of your day that runs on autopilot?

How might you gently acknowledge those thoughts without judgement?

And how might you kindly respond back when your thoughts are not constructive or productive?

Affirm that you are capable. Affirm that you are trying. Affirm that you are enough. Affirm that you don’t have to do it all right now, you just need to do the next right thing.

This is how we change the world. By changing ourselves.

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