Everybody makes mistakes. This is a common reminder used to help us navigate through life without beating ourselves up. If only it were that easy. At least for me, it was not. It is not easy to build a someone up that has been broken down for so long. I didn’t know how much of a problem my negativity was until up to last year.
When I say negative, I don’t mean towards others. I mean towards myself. It was so much a part of my character that I just took it as me being rational. I’ve never had many special gifts, but one thing I have is a good memory. This has been a blessing and a curse. I love the feeling of reflecting upon the tiny steps I’ve made in my life to get here…until they become clouded with all the missteps I’ve made. I still remember the shortcomings and how it affected me at the time. I still remember how people made me feel for making them. I still remember who kicked me when I was down and who brought me down to begin with.
I don’t believe anyone is born with feelings of self-doubt or self-hate, so they must be learned.
I grew up with many people telling me who I was before even discovering for myself. Most of it were not great things. I was reminded of how lazy I was whenever I brought back a bad report card. I was reminded of how my intellect was not up to par with other kids. I soon became quiet and would never raise my hand out of fear of being laughed at for a “stupid” question. I struggled with math the most. I even had a math tutor in high school that I met with every week. I ended up receiving C’s and D’s because to me, I was not smart enough to perform much better than that. I’ve heard so many negative things about myself that I started to believe it. It seemed like everyday, I was being ridiculed for all my flaws and mistakes. This was the case at school and at home. There was no escape from it, so I started to absorb it. I started to rationalize my failure by telling myself that I wasn’t smart and everyone that formed the same opinion towards me would only confirm it. This would send me into a deeper pit of self-doubt.
I believe hearing these things from childhood through my teenage years really affected me. The good thing is my childhood was great looking back compared to High School, which was definitely the darkest point of my life. I was 14 when I became depressed. I soon became fascinated with the idea of suicide. The thought that I could loathe my very existence so much that I felt I didn’t need or deserve a place in this world. The suffrage, I felt could be gone if I really wanted it to, I thought. I felt worthless. I had nothing going for me. I wasn’t the best student or athlete. I wasn’t anything. These negative thoughts were apart of me. I hated going to school. I had no true friends I could confide in there. Many spewed negative comments towards me and it confused me. I was quiet, I didn’t bother anybody, and people still felt the need to bother me. It’s one thing thing to be insignificant by staying low key, but when people make you feel like you don’t matter it’s a whole nother feeling entirely. This would have been okay if I encouraged myself, instead of allowing other people’s words to bring me down.
I ended up telling my family about my concern and that I felt compelled to talk to a counselor. However, they believed that they were my best counselors. They must have thought that it would pass over. It didn’t. One day, I was walking in the building and I experienced shortness of breath. This was my first panic attack. For a second, I thought “this is it”. I knew this was a bigger problem when the thought of walking into the school building gave me extreme anxiety. That’s when I learned to tell myself that everything would be okay and that I would get through it.
When I went off to college, I met some great people that really believed in me. Although life changed for me, I still found ways to put myself down. It was like a coping mechanism at that point. Even when things were going fine, I would find a way back. Often times, If anybody asked me to do a simple task for them I would become so worried that I would overthink it and make the mistake anyway. I hated feeling that way and I knew something had to change.
In February of 2015, I was laid off of my job. I was discovering what the so called “real world” was about. I began to take a hard look at where I was going, and I noticed that it was time to go through life with a different approach… a more positive mindset.
Before, it never moved me when anyone belted the words “stay positive” I always viewed it as being delusional. I would think to myself. “What’s positive about my situation”? But I’ve learned that being negative does nothing to solve whatever problem you’re dealing with. It doesn’t help the people around you either. Being positive is not being delusional. It is simply taking control of the only thing you can control, and that’s yourself. It’s taking responsibility for your life. I’ve nailed it down to these four elements. If it weren’t for these four elements. I don’t know if I would be speaking so positively today.
1) Replacing every negative thought with a positive one
If you are down about a mistake you have made, also you should recognize that life is a journey and that you will never get anything perfect. Everybody is just as lost as you. You may do well others may not so well at and vice versa. This does not mean that you win make it to where you need to be someday.
2) Eliminating negative relationships from your life
Instead of focusing on negative things someone had said, focus on the people that encourage you. Negativity from others is toxic. It is extremely important to keep good company around you and eliminate anybody that puts you down in anyway. If the person committing the act is family, try to have talke with them and tell them how their words are affecting you. Often times they might not know it. Continue to remain distant until things improve.
3) Finding your center
It is your responsibility to find and do what makes you happy. This will not only allow you to feel better about yourself, but it will improve all other areas of your life. This is why it is called your center. The best thing that helped me through my personal struggles was music. I would often listen to music and write songs before and after school. It was therapy for me. I could easily express myself without judgement and it made me feel much better. I eventually decided to use my words to encourage others and voice positive messages. This has changed my life for the better and has given me the confidence to be more vocal. I want to do with others what music did for me. Your center does not have to be a talent specifically. It could be an activity, person, or place that you can find peace of mind with.
4) Practicing self love
It is important to know that you deserve much better. You deserve love. Do not put your worth in other people’s opinion of you and do not put yourself down as a result. It doesn’t matter how many people believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself. A good way to practice is to take time to write down positive things about yourself and look at them everyday. It takes practice, but eventually you will look at your words and stand behind them.
After all this time, I have discovered what my biggest hurdle was… it was my negative mindset. It was no one else’s thoughts but my own that hurt the most. After I put positive thinking into practice and made self affirmations, I look back on my journey and stand taller. I look back and often laugh at some of the thoughts I’ve had. I look back and I’m thankful for all the people that challenged my self-love. I came out stronger because of it. I can look in the mirror and say “I wasn’t good to you but from now on, I will be”. We all will make mistakes. We all will get down sometimes, but one thing that should remain constant is our attitudes of mind. Once you acquire a positive mindset, you will never go back. I hope my words encourage you. I hope you never give up. I hope you find out how great you are.
This article was contributed by one of our freelance writers!