Up until fifth grade I felt I had led a positive, normal Midwest life. Although not together, my parents loved me. I had lots of books to keep me happy and plenty of friends to play with. My clothes and my hair were rarely on my mind. I was pretty much unaware of all the drama around me–I was a kid who was loved and secure.
In fifth grade I moved to a new school district and I met her on the playground. Some boy yelled that I was ugly, my nose was too flat, and my lips were too full and she agreed. A classmate said I was too tall and she agreed. A teacher mentioned that I couldn’t read out loud well because of my lisp and she agreed. Thus began the life long relationship that I have had with my inner mean girl (IMG).
Do you have an IMG?
Have you met her? Has she become your friend or your enemy? Do you remember the moment you met her? Does she have a name?
I remember the very photograph when my IMG made me look at my fifth grade body and decided it was ugly, disgusting, and just too…too much, too tall, too fat, too ugly, too flat. Standing in my front yard in my swimsuit with my homemade swim bag I had just made with two hand towels for a 4-H project, I glowing with pride. I still have that bag.
Diagnosis: IMG Overload
Our inner mean girl (IMG) develops when we start to become aware of our relationship to the outside world. We start to allow other’s opinions and off-hand-comments become our worth and our inner voice. Does my teacher/parent say I’m smart? Why did those girls laugh at my outfit?
The loudness of her voice is directly related to the strength or weakness of my self-worth. Some years I hardly hear from her at all, especially when I am content, well-rested, and am caring for myself. And some seasons she roars uncontrollably. How we care for ourselves fuels our inner dialogue. Here’s a great article about the nature of dieting and our IMG: https://thewespot.com/ditching-diets-and-embracing-self-acceptance/
How to Tame our Inner Mean Girl
With each new season of life I am in, my IMG has a way of rearing her ugly head and reminding me of all my obvious faults. I don’t even want to start the day. She makes me feel defeated and unworthy. Do you ever feel this way, friend?
To find our best life and to be our best positive selves, we need to tell her to shut up. When she is quiet, somehow the world around becomes more peaceful and friendly because we have the inner strength to let ourselves shine.
1. Write down your inner dialogue.
Write down what you say to yourself…all of it. Would you ever say any of this to a good friend? Would you say this to an enemy? Why would you say this to yourself? Is any of it true? Doubtful.
The advantages of having your thoughts on paper is that you can reconstruct your thoughts. Take that negative nonsense and reverse it. Instead of “I never wear the right outfit. I’m an embarrassment.” Reverse it to “I dress to express myself and my true self is shining through.” Say it out loud. Say it until your heart means it and the IMG keeps her mouth shut.
2. Monitor what you say about yourself to others.
When others compliment you, do you deflect it? Do you give them reasons why you aren’t worthy? Do you tell others about how awful you are? As a friend, I’d be sad to hear a dear friend bash herself this way.
When you constantly put yourself down to your significant other, you are indirectly telling them that they made a bad choice. I never want my husband to think I don’t trust his judgement. I may have married up but he doesn’t need to know that.
3. Place positive affirmations in your line of sight.
Yes, it sounds goofy but there is a lot of science behind this. Get sticky notes or index cards and gel pens and write out your positive affirmations. Amazon has a ton of them online ready to purchase too. Place them wherever you look everyday and repeat them to yourself. “I am loved.” “I am worthy of love.” “I am beautiful.”
Your voice of positivity can drown out the accusing voice of your IMG. Remind your IMG that she no longer has the right to tear you down.
4. Start your day right.
Start your day with a mind toward the positive. Do not start your morning watching the news or reading the paper. Seriously…find a way to read about the good or start with a fist-pumping, heart-thumping song. Count your gratitude’s. According to research, of our 60,000+ thoughts a day, over 70% of them are negative (http://www.muncievoice.com/9078/taming-endless-mind-chatter/). Quiet your inner mean girl before you start your day…don’t give her coffee.
5. Name her then slay her with positive thoughts.
After yoga class, I was talking about our IMGs to my favorite yogi friends. They always glow with positivity. They named their IMGs and would disagree with them. I have tried this and have found that I can get her to shut it quickly. By attributing my inner negative thoughts to someone else, I’m more able to quiet them and take control of their message to my heart. When you name her, she’s easier to fight…know the enemy.
You are Beautiful and Strong and Loved
Self-care and positive self-love has been a hot topic for a while. You can have all the bubble baths and massages you want but we need (I’m preaching to myself) to control our inner thought life too. Tell your IMG that she is no longer welcome, she’s done her time, and it’s time to go.
Build yourself up from the inside and you will have a heart willing to build others up too.
I have learned to go back and send love to that little fifth-grade girl. She did grow to be tall and strong and her belly is still not flat, but in the last 37 years, she has learned to appreciate her curiosity, willingness to fight for her own heart, and build her own life of wonder.