Removing negative self-talk from my inner chatter has been another of the most nurturing things I have done to improve my life. Negative messages recorded themselves on my mental tape from an early age, so I believed that the conversations I was having with myself were accurate reflections of who I was.
I repeated terrible things to myself and believed every word. I convinced myself that sometimes I wasn't enough and other times I was way too much. I heard the voice that told me I talked too much, and so I was always self-conscious about the things I had to say. I heard another voice tell me that I was terrible in the kitchen. So I proved myself right every time I tried to cook or bake something. The hurtful things I believed about myself ran even deeper.
A few years ago, I began choosing a word of the year to guide my thoughts throughout the coming twelve months. One year the phrase "let go of outcome" came to me. Each time I felt anxious about how something would turn out, I would recite those four words, and noticed that I breathed easier and interrupted the flow of sludge mucking up my mind.
Since then I have mothered myself into kinder self-talk with the words Gentle, Trust, and Quiet. Gentle was the word that got me through my 40th year when I was scared, in brand-new emotional territory, and working my way through the 40/40 list. That year revealed what exacting standards I had for myself. Gentle was the right word to soften those hard edges.
Last year, I meditated on the word Trust. I needed to re-engage with the idea that I could trust again. Trust myself, trust men, trust my gut. Each time I had a decision to make alone, I would conjure up the word. I could feel myself relax as I recognized I was capable of whatever was before me.
As the calendar page turned into the new year, I had one word, but then another better-suited word landed on my mind. I decided it was time to be Quiet. To listen more than I spoke. To be attuned to what my gut wanted for me to hear. As the months have passed, sometimes the world around me gets too noisy, and I'm grateful for my word. It's the prompt I need to re-energize and re-calibrate.
All of these words have taught me about the importance of learning how to soothe myself. They have helped to turn down the volume on the loud, obnoxious voices that do me harm. With practice, those voices do not pipe up as much, and when they do they are quickly silenced by kinder, gentler talk. I have no idea what the next word will be, but I will get quiet and trust that the right one will come at the right time, and that it will carry the message I need for the coming year.