I am most definitely one of life’s listeners. In fact, I probably listen more than I talk.
However, there’s one area where most of us could do with listening to a whole lot less and that is to those pesky self-doubting voices inside our own heads. Whether we suffer from anxiety or not, self-doubt is something that can (and does) affect most, if not all of us at some stage in our lives and can consume us. And I believe it’s something that is perpetuated in this age of social media because it can ingrain in us this sense of needing to keep up with the Jones’s, or the Kardashians as it were. As they say, comparison is the thief of joy and having 24-hour access into people’s lives makes it all the easier for us to compare our own lives to theirs and in many cases in creeps those voices of self-doubt questioning why our life doesn’t measure up. I won’t bang on about it too much here because I’ve spoken about it in more detail in a previous post; What happens when we’re over exposed to perfect selfies online? but I think it’s good to be self-aware and notice how social media can affect your mood, especially if it’s having a severe impact on your life and mental health.
As human beings, I think we’re programmed to be critical especially of ourselves. Our own minds can tell us so many untruths and convince us that they are gospel. Especially, when things go wrong or we’re at a low ebb. And that can be incredibly limiting, in so many ways. It can prevent us from doing so much and stop us from reaching our full potential and getting the maximum enjoyment out of life.
Self-doubt can make us believe that we aren’t good enough, aren’t pretty enough, or macho enough, not talented enough, not clever enough, not funny enough. Not normal enough, even. That we are nothing in comparison to others. When things don’t go right, we can think that it’s all our fault. When people treat us badly anxiety tells us that it’s because we’re a bad person and deserve to be treated as such. That we do not deserve nice things, or to be treated with respect. We overly question why we did something or why we said something, or why we didn’t do something or say something. We become our own worst enemies, constantly tormenting ourselves. Sadly, if someone is in a depressive episode or in the grip of anxiety, those thoughts can even turn dark.
But here’s the thing, you don’t need to listen to them nor believe them. No matter how persistent or constant they are. It’s possible to simply tell them to shut up and f**k the heck off. The grown-up equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and saying “la la la I’m not listening.” But most importantly learning that thoughts are just thoughts, they do not need to be heeded or put into action, you don’t need to believe or listen to them. Most importantly you do not need to let them have power over you. Yes, even though they are coming from that complex being that is your own mind.
This is something I remember being part of my mental health recovery several years ago and was once again reminded of it by my current counsellor. Now, I’m by no means saying it’s that easy, especially if you suffer from crippling anxiety, or those thoughts ever lead to thoughts of not wanting to be here or harming yourself. In which case, I strongly recommend seeking help and that this is something to work on with a trained counsellor, as I am doing. But practice makes perfect.
It’s about taking back control and overriding those thoughts. Changing the narrative. Saying “yes I hear you” however “I’m not the worst person in the world.” “I’m not unlovable.” “I do deserve to be happy.” “I am enough!” Etc etc. And most importantly “I don’t have to listen to you, you pesky self-doubting thoughts.” Say it out loud if you have to. And repeat. Move away from being engulfed in those thoughts. If social media is making you doubt yourself, come away from it for a while. Don’t torment yourself poring over the profiles of people that make you feel inferior. Do something that makes you feel good. Speak to the people who make you feel loved. You’ll be surprised to find that with practice it does actually work and you’ll be a whole lot happier for it. And before you say “I don’t deserve to be happy,” you absolutely do. You deserve to not be at war with yourself and find inner peace.