‘If I lose myself I lose it all’
I recall once being at the start of a college course where the tutor asked us all to write down on a slip of paper what was our worst fear about undertaking the course. We didn’t have to put our name on the slip and she asked that we be as honest as possible.
All the slips of paper were then put into a hat and we were each asked to take one at random and read it out to the class. If it was our own, we had to replace it and choose another slip.
The uncanny thing was, we might as well all have read out our own slip. Because we all came up with the same core thought, cloaked in different words…
‘I’m not good enough.’
I remember being very surprised that a large group of young and old men and women of various backgrounds and professions, could all be besieged by the same secret gnawing fear.
Since then in my work as a psychotherapist I have come to see how naturally it comes to most of us to be our own worst critic. In psychotherapy we call this type of automatic thinking, Negative Automatic Thoughts (NATs). When it comes to ourselves we are more likely to tune into negative thoughts about ourselves, – the voice in our head putting us down.
Comforting words are usually reserved for somebody we love…
‘I know you very well and I believe in you.’
Why reserve these words for saying to another rather than ourselves?
At the heart of self-criticism is negative self-comparisons. But there is no need to draw this upon ourselves. Being aware is enough to bypass it, to challenge the negative and choose instead a thought that can reassure us and remind us that we are strong. And we can do this simply by saying to ourselves the words we would choose to comfort or reassure another.
Real strength comes not from seeking admiration and approval outside yourself, but by cherishing and believing in who you are. And we are all unique.
That’s why I’m loving the song “Runnin’ (Lose it all)” with its wonderful lyrics:
Ain’t runnin’ from myself no more
I’m ready to face it all.
If I lose myself, I lose it all……