I spent about ten years of my life living in a dark, cavernous cave I created in my mind. This cave constantly echoed all my greatest fears and anxieties. It resonated these absolutely insane thoughts I had developed about myself– I was never good enough or cute enough or talented enough. Looking back, I honestly don’t know how I came to think these things about myself or why I believed that they were true, but I did. The lack of self-esteem and the incredible amount of stress I put on myself affected not only my goals, but also my health. I was the queen of my own Playa Hater’s Ball.
Any of this sound familiar?
Well, I’m here to say, STOP IT.
You need to stop it, stop it right now!
No ifs, ands, or buts, you just need to stop!
If you’re still stuck in your cave, then this may seem like an impossible task. Newsflash: it is entirely possible. The world is full of people who are going to try to hold you back, don’t let yourself be one of them. A simple way to thrive in this world is to learn to be your own best friend. It’s going to take some work and some patience, but the outcome will be a peace of mind you never thought possible.
So, if you’re ready to turn your cave into a limitless sky of possibilities, let’s get started.
Note: Do not come to me next week crying about how you’re still in a cave. This is like a gym routine, people. You do not lose fifteen pounds by going on the Elliptical for twenty minutes, twice a week. Be prepared to do serious, conscious work and you will see serious results.
1. Become aware of your negativity and your choice to participate in it.
Some of you may know you’re negative, others of you may not even notice it. Here’s the best indicator in the world: ask yourself, “Would I let someone say this to my best friend?” In my case, my sister is my best friend. And if anyone in the universe tried to tell her she couldn’t do something, or that she was ugly, or anything other than that she was a beautiful spirit inside & out, I’d probably find something within grabbing distance and stab them.
I’m sure you feel the same way about your best friend. You’d never let anyone tell them they were fat or dumb, so why do you tell YOURSELF that?! When put in this context, most of the negative thoughts our brains have become shocking. It’s embarrassing how badly we treat ourselves some times, and for really no good reason. Nothing positive comes out of these sorts of thoughts– it doesn’t motivate you to be better or to try harder. It usually just creates more negativity.
Realize that you are choosing to participate in these thoughts. You have a choice to not think them, even if it doesn’t seem like it. The cave is dark and scary, and sometimes to think you’ve chosen to be there seems preposterous. It’s not. It’s true. Once you make the realization that you can choose to have a better perspective, the quicker you will have one.
2. Recognize the difference between your ego and reality.
Look, your ego is a crazy and fragile thing. Sometimes it makes you feel like you’re on top of the world, but it is also what makes you your biggest hater. Your ego uses fear to keep you tied to it, and those racing thoughts your ego produces are not real. They are usually based on future fears that will never happen, and you basically just have to stop paying attention to them. Seriously, just ignore them. Much like step one, the more attention you choose to give these thoughts, the more power you are granting them. Just tell them to STFU.
3. Break the patterns.
Once you have become aware of negative thoughts, they’re pretty easy to detect and you’ll probably be surprised at how often you think them. These patterns can be as simple as constantly saying “I can’t”, or “I don’t know”, or “I guess”. They can be as complex as telling yourself you won’t leave your house if you don’t fit into a certain pair of jeans. The point is, as soon as you recognize you’re hating on yourself (IE: saying things to yourself you wouldn’t dare say to your BFF), you can break the patterns.
An easy way to break the pattern is when you start to think something negative about yourself, turn it around and make it a positive. When you think you can’t do something, turn around and say, “I can do this.” Sure, maybe you try and fail, but telling yourself you can and putting yourself out there will help build confidence and vanquish your fear of failure.
If your negative thoughts are tied to certain actions, replace the action with a healthy alternative. For example, I’m a stress eater. But instead of eating an entire box of frozen burritos because I’m stressed and then basically putting myself into a whole other self-induced anxiety attack for eating said box of burritos, I eat a bowl of cherries. Replacing the totally unhealthy frozen snacks with something delicious and good for me, I save myself the anguish of punishing and bullying myself (which I normally would) for eating ten Tina’s burritos.
(For those of you who have never had to buy Tina’s burritos, yeah, they’re $1 in your freezer section. Great for broke college years, terrible for your health.)
3.5. Be your biggest fan.
Just totally give over to fully supporting yourself. Even when it seems ridiculous, laugh at your own jokes, encourage yourself to try new things and daydream about your amazing future. Tell yourself you’re beautiful, dance around naked regularly and talk to the cute boy at the party, because what’s the point of not?! Give yourself the chance to believe that you can be everything you’ve ever wanted to be, because the truth is, you can be as soon as you stop telling yourself you can’t.
4. Focus on goals & work you love.
Now that you are your own cheerleader, go after goals, ambitions and work you enjoy doing. Not only will this strengthen your confidence by being brave and pursuing your passions, but by doing what you love, you are bound to excel. Take pride in this work and recognize your achievements, no matter how small they seem. Do your best not to compare yourself to others, and have faith in your own path because it is yours & yours alone. No one will ever walk it besides you, so know that it can take you where you want to go as long as you believe in it and yourself.
5. Develop healthy lifestyle habits.
A quick way to boost your self-esteem is by living a healthy lifestyle. It’s incredible how much exercise and eating right can help. Not only does it help you gain a better self-image, but it also helps get expel a lot of the pent up anxiety you can incur throughout your daily life. Find an exercise routine you truly enjoy and eat lots of fresh fruit and veggies. Being active and eating clean food will help you feel good all over, mind & body. I’m not trying to mom-out on you, but if you think all the preservatives and chemicals in processed foods can be good for you, girl, you need more help than this post has to offer.
It’s also a good idea to pick up some exercises for your spirit, like meditation or yoga. As with anything, practicing to silence your thoughts and quell your fears through these exercises will make it easier in your daily life, and c’mon, who doesn’t want to fall asleep without a thousand worries bombarding you?!
6. Be the best friend you’ve always wanted.
And now, after all that, this is the easy part. See, once you master the other steps, being your own best friend will come naturally. You won’t have to try because practice creates habits and habits create lifestyles. You won’t continually beat yourself up. You won’t constantly second guess yourself. You won’t be stuck in your cave.
When you’re having a bad day, you’ll be able to look into your sky and beyond the clouds, because you know that they’re only temporary. You know that beyond the storm is another day, full of promise. You will know you’re a beautiful person inside and out, and will be able to remind yourself when you’re just PMSing. Never stop telling yourself to go for it, and never think twice about standing up for yourself, because you will always have a best friend who supports you.