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We all know saying sorry to others is important. But have you ever thought about saying sorry to yourself? I hadn’t until I read this blog post on Storyline by Mike Foster a few weeks ago about negative self-talk. Read it then come back here, please.
I don’t know about you, but his words were spot on for me and the way I talk to myself. Think about all of the voices that go off in your head as you go through your day. If you lean perfectionist like I do, you may have a few more voices and they are probably a little more critical.
For me, the voices start early in the day. The first thing I see when I walk into my office in the mornings is a big, dim, full-length reflection of myself in the tinted mirror/wall opposite the front doors. I tell myself not to look, but I always do and then I always have an opinion about what I decided to wear that day and how I look in it. I share this opinion with myself and make it to the stairs v. elevator debate a few feet away. “You have to take the stairs,” I tell myself, “and you know why.”
After this internal conversation about my looks is over, the internal conversation about my day begins. I check my calendar and see a meeting scheduled that I’d forgotten about and beat myself up for forgetting about it, even though it’s two hours away so it’s not like I’m going to miss it. Then I start to make my to-do list and get distracted by an email, so I get onto myself for being so easily distracted. And the negativity continues and progresses until it’s really a miracle I make it home not physically bruised from it all.
I think we become very accustomed to this in our lives. It’s the norm to be mean to ourselves and then nice to others. This is how we exist, but we don’t have to.
The other day I decided to put into practice #3 on Mike Foster’s list of recommendations for kicking negative self-talk to the curb: Apologize to yourself. I had been making fun of myself for acting awkward in a social situation and was running over in my head how I should have said and done things differently. I do this a lot–chastise myself for not acting “cooler” in public. But this time, I stopped me mid-sentence and apologized. To me. I said I was sorry I was being so hard on me, and that really I hadn’t acted that awkwardly and probably no one had noticed. I said I was sorry I lacked grace for me and then I gave myself a compliment.
It felt weird, and writing it out like this feels even weirder, but as I was kind to myself in my thoughts, I felt that toxic negativity start to leave and make room for a little confidence and grace to enter in. It’s physics (or something), really. You release the bad stuff and have more space for the good. Think about that, the potential beauty inside of you released with a simple apology.