Examining the impact of the messages that we tell ourselves about ourselves

February 14, 2018

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford

 

  We all experience self-doubt and insecurity. I know that often-times the only obstacle that is standing in my way is myself. One of my favorite quotes is, “It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not,” by Denis Waitley.

  We can dwell on all the ways “we are not,” and all the ways “we think we can’t,” or we can reframe and focus on our strengths and how we managed to get through something similar in the past. We can examine what evidence exists that proves that “we are and we can.” How did you get to where you are today? How did you manage to persist in spite of experiencing self-doubt? We can empower ourselves to build resiliency simply by altering the messages we tell ourselves about ourselves.

  A personal example of this was when I was in graduate school studying to become a counselor. I started graduate school when I was about 22 years old. I was quite a bit younger and had way less life experience than most of the students in my classes. When it came time to begin a Practicum where I had to “be a counselor,” and apply what I had learned, I experienced a never-ending flood of fear, self-doubt, and insecurity. The fear and self-doubt kept me up at night as I questioned if I knew what I was doing and if clients would really connect with me. Then one day, at the most perfect time, I heard a song on the radio that changed everything. The song is called, “The Middle,” by Jimmy Eat World. The lyrics are as follows.

 

Hey
Don't write yourself off yet
It's only in your head you feel left out or looked down on
Just try your best
Try everything you can
And don't you worry what they tell themselves when you're away

It just takes some time
Little girl, you're in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine
Everything, everything will be all right

Hey
You know they're all the same
You know you're doing better on your own so don't buy in
Live right now
Just be yourself
It doesn't matter if that's good enough for someone else

It just takes some time
Little girl, you're in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine
Everything, everything will be all right

It just takes some time
Little girl, you're in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine
Everything, everything will be all right

Hey
Don't write yourself off yet
It's only in your head you feel left out or looked down on
Just do your best
Do everything you can
Don't you worry what their bitter hearts are going to say

It just takes some time
Little girl, you're in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine
Everything, everything will be all right

It just takes some time
Little girl, you're in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine
Everything, everything will be all right

 

  I heard the lyrics to this song and made it my anthem. I listened to the message of it often, and I started to reframe what I was telling myself about myself. I did not allow my comparisons of my peers to define my abilities. From then on, I focused on who I am and what I can do versus who I think I am not and what I think I cannot do. You have the power to define you, and no one else has that power. I encourage you to use that power to tell yourself not only what you can do, but what you will do, and who you are.

 

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Photo taken by Monica Coulter in McKinney, Texas, 2016.