I know I am not the only person who battles negative thoughts. You know, those kind of thoughts that tell you that you are not good enough or that you should be doing better. The kind of thoughts that tell you that a person like you can’t do it right or isn’t worth loving. Thoughts that tear you down and leave you feeling beat. Do you know these kind of thoughts?
I have heard these kind of thoughts referred to as “negative tapes”. This is a good way to describe them because quite often these thoughts, or tapes, play over again and again in our mind, leaving little chance for a person to feel very good about themselves.
There are a lot of books and self-help guides out in the world about this topic, and I think it might be accurate to say that the majority of the messages out there are about how to destroy these thoughts and how to replace them. But I want to challenge you, along with myself, to consider how you are measuring your worth and by what standards are you seeking to live up to, that create these thoughts? What is your litmus test for personal value? What is the ruler by which you measure yourself to determine you are okay?
Consider the moments in which one of these tapes or negative thoughts have come into your mind. Reflect on what it was that immediately precipitated the thought and what feeling were you overcome with immediately after the negative tape played?
After a “typical” day in my life I might spend some time evaluating what I have done that day, what tasks I have completed, and what kind of mood there is in my home. I can tell you right now, that thinking in this fashion, with this type of thought process is already flawed in a way that easily sets me up for some negative thoughts. First of all, I’m measuring myself by what I have done . . .evaluating my day by doing and not being. And I’m using the moods and emotions of others as a measurement as well.
When I end my day this way, I often come up measuring short of the measurement I wanted to achieve. It’s self-defeating to live in a way that I can only have value if I do enough or if other people seem to be happy and satisfied. It is self-defeating to hold myself to any kind of standard that does not focus simply on being valuable for being the best I can be at that moment. If I determine my worth in the first mentioned way, what kinds of thoughts will follow when I don’t measure up to this unobtainable standard?
A perfect example is if my husband has had a bad or frustrating day with work and he greets the evening in a bad frame of mind, I might be quick to think that his mood is directly related to what tasks I have completed that day. He must have noticed I didn’t get any laundry done, or that I don’t have dinner ready yet. Immediately a flood of negative tapes start to play when I use his mood as an indicator of anything other than how he is feeling about himself and his own experience. “You are a bad wife. You fail at even the simplest of tasks. You are not a good homemaker.” The destructive thoughts begin, the trigger has been pulled and the floodgates have opened. . .washing away my sense of value.
How are you measuring up? What do you think you have to measure up to? How hard are you being on yourself by expecting yourself to meet expectations that no one can meet?
Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to determine your worth by being and not doing. This is what I am working on practicing and I find that I experience a feeling of freedom in knowing that I do not have to do something or measure up to anyone’s standard in order to be lovable and valuable.