Do you know who you spend the most time with? Who you talk to the most? Whose voice you hear the most? I encourage you to park here for just a moment and really think about these questions.
If I answer quickly, I would say my husband, children, a few friends, or maybe my coworkers. If I thought about it for just a hot minute, I might say I hear my mom’s voice in my head the most. In all reality though, the answer is me. I spend the most time with and have the most conversations with myself. You might be nodding your head or furrowing your brow in a confused question like “what…?”
Seriously though, you drive to the grocery store and you go over your list in your head, reminding yourself not to forget the chocolate chips that you forgot to write on the list. Then you reprimand yourself for taking a left at the light instead of a right and now you have a 30-second conversation about how you should have remembered the traffic this way is going to take about five minutes longer than if you had just remembered to turn right. Read over that last sentence. It may seem silly, but just that little “ugh, what were you thinking” comment to yourself carries weight. It can set the tone for your whole trip to the grocery store and even carry over into the rest of your day.
Words Carry Weight, So Be Mindful While Using Them
We know that the words we speak to others are powerful. They have the ability to give or take away from their day or even life. It has been said that words are like toothpaste, once it’s squeezed out, you cannot put it back in. We are considerate of how we speak to others, choosing our words carefully, trying to use our words to empower and encourage. Now let me ask you this: do you practice the same principles with the words you choose to speak to yourself?
I am a kind person who looks for ways to speak encouragement into the lives of others, but I can cut myself down quick as a whip, sometimes with just as much sting. The words I use when speaking to myself can be rude, harsh, mean, and honestly just plain hateful. Words so harsh that I would never use to speak to another person. This is one aspect in my battle with depression.
It may look on the outside like everything is fine, but when I’m at a low point, the dialogue in my head is anything but fine. Areas that I struggle with, or am sensitive to, are always on queue for verbal berating. For example, I struggle with my appearance and weight, so when I’m at a low point, I will call myself fat and ugly. There are usually some expletives in there for extra emphasis on how fat and ugly I am. Being a strong woman, wife, and mom of grit and grace is especially important to me, and yet these areas are where I use the most harsh words against myself.
Depression is such a complex subject. It can be situational, a season of your life that you walk through temporarily or it can be a constant struggle. I battle depression daily. To arm myself in this battle, I see a counselor regularly, try to be transparent with my family and friends, and see a psychiatrist for medication.
Some tools I have picked up along this 20-year journey are to ask myself questions like:
What am I trying to control that I am feeling out of control about?
Is there something I need that is lacking?
How has my sleep been this last week?
I keep a journal and answer these questions, sometimes digging quite deep to find the answers. This helps me in several ways. I can look back to see if there is something recurring that needs to be addressed, or maybe I need to see my counselor a little more often for a period of time, it can even be as simple as a change in my sleep pattern.
Collecting inspirational quotes and writing them on Post-it notes, in my planner, on chalkboards around my house, is also helpful. Sometimes I will print quotes out to create a scrapbook type page in my journal with them to help solidify the message. Being a creative person, this also feeds that need in my soul in a positive way. If you are interested in finding quotes, just type the phrase “inspirational quotes” in your search bar on Pinterest and scroll. The quotes you see have the ability to make you feel something, give you strength in a difficult situation, make you smile, and even laugh out loud.
I have also created a playlist of songs that have helped me navigate these rough waters because, just like Christina and Meredith for those Grey’s Anatomy fans, you simply have to dance it out.
Practice Saying Kind Things to Yourself
The most important thing you need to do, however, is to practice saying kind things to yourself. If you are anything like me, you struggle with thinking that it is arrogant to think of yourself as beautiful, smart, or even strong. I am battling with this concept right now. It is imperative for us to love ourselves, right where we are, and replace all of those negative, unkind words with positive affirmations. Maybe begin a daily practice of writing one or two affirmations out in your journal each morning. Choose something kind and say it to the beautiful woman looking at you in the mirror. Show her the grace that you would show someone else. One of my current morning affirmations are: You are kind, beautiful, and strong, and you are growing more so every day.
Remember, one kind word has the power to change the world. Make sure you are using kind words to change your world, too.
For more encouragement and related articles, start here:
From a Therapist: This Is Why Your Self-Talk Matters
100 Things a Grit and Grace Woman Believes
A Life Full of Hardship Has Made Me Joyful
3 Ways Positive Self-Talk Can Improve Your Life
Is Battling Depression Disappointing God?
What Every Woman Needs to Know About Body Image
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You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: What Are the Unexpected Gifts of Depression? With Melissa Maimone – 095!