“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
How many of us grew up hearing this? We are taught from the start that it is not acceptable to say mean, untrue, or hurtful things to others. Why then, are we not told equally as often that this also applies to the words we speak and think about ourselves? Negative self talk is either seen as the status quo, especially for women, or in some cases even encouraged!
What?! You’re thinking I’ve lost it! Who on earth would encourage negative self talk?! Well, there’s the obvious unspoken standards set for our appearance by the entertainment industry and marketing. That’s starting to see a shift, thankfully. But what about areas beyond body image?
Raise your virtual hand if you’ve ever thought or said something along these lines in response to a compliment someone has given you about a skill/quality you possess and they admire.
Oh sure, I can do _________, but I’m just awful at __________.
(Fill in the blanks with your automatic response when given a compliment. Ex. Oh sure, I can prepare amazing meals for my family, but I’m just awful at organizing things. Oh sure, I can organize events flawlessly, but I’m just awful at writing. Oh sure, I can out craft the best of the pinterest addicts, but I can’t do a thing with numbers. The list could go on forever.)
I’ve done it so often, that it’s second nature to me. It takes concentrated effort to pause, reframe my thoughts, and respond with gracious appreciation without insulting myself in the next breath. Friend, being unkind to yourself is not humility. It is not going to positively build up other women around you for you to play small. Accepting a compliment for a strength you possess with grace does not make you conceited or full of yourself. Tearing yourself down does nothing more to build another woman up than tearing her down would do to build you up. It’s all thinking and playing small. Your strengths are not a threat to hers, and her strengths are not a threat to yours.
What would happen if we all walked around, confident (not obnoxiously boastful) in the ways we have been created to bring our own unique brand of weird and wonderful into the world? What would happen if we were equally excited to notice the unique awesomeness of another without viewing it as a threat to our own awesomeness? Is awesomeness a word? Whatever…it fits and I’m using it!
Each of us came into this world with something uniquely different to offer to those around us. If we spend all of our time hiding our quirks and skills because they don’t look the same as what the woman standing beside us brought to the table, the world will miss out on so much greatness! It doesn’t matter how similar one woman appears to be to the next…make no mistake, she’s here to do things with her own spin and reach her own circle of people. You cannot radically impact the people you are supposed to reach if you’re trying to emulate the style, actions, and words of someone who was born to reach a completely different set of people! And then what of your people? If you’re busy trying to do and say things that someone else is doing because you like the way it looks and the crowd it is drawing for them…who is reaching your people?
There is a whole tribe of people out there…waiting to experience the awesomeness you were born to offer. Some other woman needs to hear message you were born to speak. Some other woman is waiting to learn the skill you were born to teach. Some other woman is trying desperately to navigate a trail that you were born to blaze!
Stop playing small. Stop acting like you are doing others a favor by speaking and thinking unkind words about yourself. Stop pretending that hiding your uniquely wonderful self is humility rather than seeing it for the unhealthy self hate that it is.
If you don’t have anything nice to say to yourself, don’t say anything at all!