There is nothing that I love to hate more than positive affirmations; well, that and mirror selfies … my only problem with that being that in this scenario I couldn’t get a picture of my hated positive affirmations that were taped to a mirror without falling victim to the dreaded mirror selfie. So, I put on my favorite sweater, a brave face, and obviously windex-ed the mirror before I took the shot–if a mirror selfie is required you’re crazy if you think I’m gonna add insult to injury with a dirty, spotted mirror.
Wow, I’m not sure but I think I just created a new drinking game – for all you non-alcoholic drinkers like myself, this is where a good Martinelli’s or a dirty Dr. Pepper comes in really handy – every time I use the words “mirror selfie” take a drink and I’m positive that even your dirty Dr. Pepper is gonna leave you a little tipsy from how much the words “mirror selfie” are overused.
I believe this is me stalling. How am I doing so far?
Great, right? That’s what I thought.
If you know me at all you understand that stalling is my way to try and stave off the vulnerability. I am a champion staller and deflector; if there was a Superbowl for this I would be the uncontested reigning champ, 21 years running. It comes from years of not wanting to talk about myself for two main reasons: 1) My secrets often created the necessity to lie, and I hate lying–it’s triggering for me; and 2) I believed if people really knew me they would hate me as much as I did, and no one wants that type of rejection.
So, I honed my skills of focusing on the other person–whomever it was–and seeking to get to know them. If we were talking and you asked a question about me, I could give you the perfect amount of surface information, that wouldn’t look like surface information, before dancing myself into the end zone as I came at you with two perfectly timed questions that would get the conversation off of me and in the comfortable direction of all things you.
I don’t believe I did this cunningly, it really was my survival tool and it worked because I honestly love listening to people; I love to hear someone else’s story and catch up on what is happening in their life. So, I became the champion staller and deflector. It has served me well–it has given me my career and allowed me to learn and grow from so many of the great people in my life. The negative side to it, however, is that I have been creating a pattern of self-hatred and self-rejection for many years–protecting myself by hating me first so that if others did reject me, it didn’t matter because I had already beaten them to it and hurt more than they ever could, all in the hopes that the rejection of others wouldn’t hurt.
What I didn’t understand is that rejection always hurts, that in its very nature it carries with it the ability to hurt and sting regardless of if we already have stockpiles of hate for ourselves. What I am starting to see now is that in reality, how much the rejection of others hurts us or how long the sting lasts is in direct correlation with how we feel about ourselves. The more we are able to love who we are, the less hurt we will feel at the rejection of others and the shorter the sting will stay with us.
The other mistake that I made by hating myself first so that rejection wouldn’t come is that a lot of people, possibly most people, don’t reject when they are faced with what one classifies as the worst parts of ourselves; more often than not there is compassion and understanding and sometimes a connection of, “Hey, me too.” As I have opened up, as I have been vulnerable about who I really am, what I really feel, and what has happened to me I have faced love instead of hate, understanding instead of judgment, and support instead of rejection.
The interesting part of my PTSD brain is that as I have experienced support I have actually felt more uncomfortable. It makes me cringe and I want to move away from that as quick as possible, and so hate, my most comfortable emotion, steps in and I pummel myself with the worst I have been able to cultivate over the years. I disregard the good someone extends to me with the thought that they are just being nice or it’s just pity and I come at myself with guns a-blazing. I use the words my abusers used – No one will ever want you – you are a loser – you are fat, ugly, pathetic, disgusting – you make people sick – the world is better off with you dead – you are an embarrassment – you are stupid – you are alone because they were right, no one wants you – etc. I’m sorry if those are strong but it’s my reality. I hear those words or other similar phrases a hundred times or more a day.
Now, I don’t say this so that others will be prompted to tell me how great I am or that I shouldn’t hate myself–both are obviously true (if you don’t know I’m joking well then, now you do; also if you don’t know I’m an over-explainer, well then, now you do – yikes, this could go on forever, I’ll stop now – oh wait, now might be a good time to say, “mirror selfie” in case the reading thus far has caused thirst).
I say this because I believe that how we think truly dictates the life we lead. I’m tired of a life full of hate. No one would publicly say that they love negative affirmations–but isn’t that what I am doing when I consistently listen to the hate in my mind?
Yes, it is.
As a result, if I want change then I need to work at creating new patterns in my mind, new ways to think and believe. That is why I’m sucking it up and leaning in to the discomfort of a positive affirmation. I have always believed that discomfort was a negative emotion–akin to what I feel when I feel embarrassment, shame, fear, or anxiety, because that is how it has always felt.
However, recently, I have been seeking to feel out the subtle difference in each emotion when they come. As I have differentiated discomfort from the other emotions I have come to realize that the positivity behind that emotion is real and strong; with discomfort comes change. Each time that I allow discomfort to be real, it is teaching me that change is possible, that embracing discomfort opens the door to hope, and slowly, the steps I am taking will allow for the uncomfortable to become comfortable, the unfamiliar to become the norm.
So, here I am, taping positive affirmations to my mirror, leaning in to the discomfort, and hoping that in three days I can remember that change takes time, change takes work, but that I deserve a life devoid of the self-hate that was grown out of a little girl’s desperate attempt to survive.
It’s time to honor her sacrifice with love.
Is it time for anything in your life to change? If so, lean in to the discomfort my friend–that only means you are making progress. That only means change is on its way.