A couple of weeks ago, I was at a conference with coworkers. While there I was meeting a lot of our partners and clients for the first time. Basically, I found myself trying to make and keep conversations constantly. A few days into the conference, I realized something about myself that I had never realized before - the way I talked about myself to others - especially around new folks. While I am constantly working on my inner self talk and the way I talk to me, I never really stopped to notice how I represented myself in a conversation.
And that weekend, I learned that I tend to outwardly make fun of me.
Growing up I can distinctly remember getting picked on in middle school. I remember getting made fun of for being an attentive student, for what clothes I would wear, or how my hair was done. These years were really, really hard. Looking back, something I used as a defense mechanism was to get to the punch before anyone else had a chance - I would make fun of/laugh at myself before anyone could bully me first. And it worked. They eventually stopped.
Today, deep down, looking stupid, messing up, or putting myself in a situation for others to put me down scares me. Simply put, embarrassment is a fear of mine.
What I realized is for all of these years I have been letting that fear of embarrassment or feeling less than lead me to doing what I can to avoid it.
Hence, I put myself down before anyone else has a chance.
“Oh you can tell I was such a teacher's pet - I mean just look at how many notebooks I have. Here comes the bag lady - looking like Mary Poppins today. Oh yeah I could never wear shoes like that, I am such a klutz and would break my nose.”
We have been taught, treat others with respect, speak nicely to and about other people.
But we really were never taught the same about ourselves.
We don’t think twice about calling ourselves a fat failure or talking down about something we have done or like to do, “oh yeah I like to paint but I mean I am not that good so don’t look.”
I think when we talk about ourselves like that, we in a way, give others permission to talk to us that way.. “I don’t think highly of myself so you shouldn’t either.” And that’s not okay...
I have mentioned inner self talk a lot throughout my posts. But I think it is important to mention our outer self talk as well. What if we took more time to notice out we speak to AND about ourselves?
Quick exercise for you:
- How does your inner dialogue with yourself look? Do you talk to yourself the same way you would talk to a loved one?
- Does that inner dialogue transfer to the way you talk ABOUT yourself to others? Are you downplaying yourself in conversations or acting out of fear of something? Why?
- What do you love about yourself that you tend to downplay? Can you change the way you talk about those things? What would that feel like?
The way we talk to and about ourselves is a huge first step to improving our overall level of happiness and one of the best steps to relearning how to trust yourself (if that is something you have lost along the way). In doing so, we are showing others (and our mean inner critic) how we want to be treated and that we have a high level of respect for ourselves.. And there is nothing wrong with that folks.
If we can change our inner and outer dialogue about ourselves, crazy things happen in terms of confidence and inner peace.
It doesn’t feel good to be mean to ourselves... Am I right?
What if we were confident and proud of ourselves and our accomplishments? What if I could make people laugh in ways that didn’t require being a dick to myself? What if we could treat EVERYONE with respect (that is including you, my friend). What a beautiful world that would be.
So I leave you with this final question: