Are You Watching the Words You Speak Over Yourself?

By Emily Fletke

Photo by Emily Fletke  @fletkefoto

Photo by Emily Fletke @fletkefoto

Friends from college once forced me to do something powerful, and also a bit ridiculous, that helps me watch carefully the words I say to myself.

I was swimming in deep waters of depression and drowning in negative self-talk.

Every time I harmlessly muttered, “What’s wrong with you, Emily? You’re such an idiot! And you look terrible!” I reinforced the lies that something was wrong with me, I was less than capable, and had no physically attractive qualities.

A group of us had gone to the beach for spring break. The first night, as we were getting ready for dinner, I demeaned myself in the upstairs bathroom and picked apart every inch of my appearance in the mirror.

My girlfriends weren’t having it.

AN EXERCISE IN BEAUTY

Immediately, they ordered me to wear the nicest dress and heels I had brought with me. I put on a knee length, scratch-patterned light blue and grey wrap dress and a pair of ridiculously high, and somewhat hideous, brown ankle-strap wooden wedges. Then they marched me to the top of the staircase, while they moved to the bottom. There, they instructed me to proceed slowly and dramatically in a confident saunter down the steps toward them, loudly declaring the following words:

“I’m beautiful; a beautiful child of God, and it ain’t no lie!!” (My friends were exclusively Southern women.)

Each time I reached the bottom of the staircase they would press me with increasing urgency and intensity: “Do you believe it?”

If I hesitated with my answer even for a split second, they sent me straight back up to the top of the staircase.

23 struts later…

BELIEVING THE BEST TAKES TIME

Sometimes we need to physically speak the opposite of — and do so multiple times — what we believe about ourselves before former mindsets can start to change. The words we need to watch the most are the ones we listen to over and over again in our minds.

Those 23 spring break struts have stayed with me to this day. In my darkest moments, when I feel far from beautiful and not sure I am loveable, I remember that wooden staircase, those bold women, and these courageous words:

“I am beautiful; a beautiful child of God, and it ain’t no lie.”

What words are you speaking over yourself today? Is it time for a good strut? (Staircase and Southern dialect optional ;)