The other night I was reading the story of The Ugly Duckling to my son. As I did, I thought about the many ways in which I believe I am inadequate, or not enough. We all have a running dialogue in our minds (some of us are more aware of it than others). We live in a very busy time in which we run from one thing to another, stopping only when illness or the big vacation are upon us. Our living and workplaces are often challenging, and our interactions may bring us into direct combat with our self-esteem. Am I good enough for that raise? Do I dare ask for more? Maybe I'm too fat, and I shouldn't indulge in dessert. Does she like me? Will he accept me? What do I really have to offer that is so much better than the next person?
This litany of inner criticisms and questions can feel even worse when our outer tribe appears to turn against us. Sometimes even those who love us best are afraid to dream on our behalf. We may share our deepest hopes and desires with our loved ones, hoping for support, only to be told, "Are you crazy?" or "Don't you think you're reaching a little too high? You need to be more practical!"
When people have found both spiritual and material happiness (whatever that means to them), they tend to encourage success in others. But those who felt forced to settle for only one and are hurting for the other, cling to their success and feel they are being wise in urging others not to hope for too much. Thus, like the ugly duckling, we may be laughed at. Our vision may seem so outlandish to others that they must laugh us off, or risk looking within themselves to face their own compromised dreams.
Why do we berate ourselves? Why not change your inner dialogue so that, no matter where you go, or what you choose to do, you are supported?
When I was younger, I chose to begin writing down all of this inner dialogue, and I discovered that much of it was what others had told me I was capable,or incapable of. When I tried to let go of other peoples' statements, I came to the startling realization that I didn't actually believe in myself. I could not see my worth. I could not see those unique qualities that made me beautiful, treasurable, and powerful just as I was. Rather than seeing my strengths, and understanding that I was blessed to have a seeking spirit and love for growth, I could only see how small and unknowledgeable I was.
To change things, I began to say a very simple affirmation every single time my internal dialogue went the ugly duckling route: I am a creative center that benefits everyone.
I was shocked to discover, the first time I said this, that I really didn't believe it! But it didn't matter. I'd made the determination to change my internal outlook and heal my self-esteem. The more I said it, the more I believed. I began to see how creative I could be. I began to understand what I could offer to the world. I began to trust all of the unique qualities that make me who I am, and I began to honor my inner beauty.
My favorite part about The Ugly Duckling is actually the end, when the duckling realizes that he is, in fact, a swan. If we are lucky, we find people who will remind us that we are all swans--fast swimmers, ferocious workers, graceful embracers of life who inspire the world around us. But we don't need to wait to be rescued. We can change our internal dialogue right now, and once we truly believe in who we are, we will naturally gravitate towards and seek out those other swans who support us.
So. . . believe in your inner beauty. Honor your unique traits. Polish your inner wisdom. Bring forth your deep joy. Begin now!
3 Steps for Changing Inner Dialogue
1. Become Aware of the ways you perceive yourself, and what you silently affirm throughout the day. In what ways do you paint yourself as a powerless victim? Some common ones may include: I am too fat. I don't deserve it. I'm lazy. I need to (fill in the blank) more often, what a loser I am. I am broke. I will never, ever (fill in the blank). I hate how I look. If only (fill in the blank) were different then I'd be happy. There's no hope.
2. Write A List of three of these internal phrases. By writing them down, you are bringing them out of the murkiness of your own mind, where you can reflect honestly on the sway they have held. For each of these phrases, ask yourself: How true is this? What physical, measurable actions can I take to change it? Write these items into your calendar, and do them.
3. Use a New Affirmation. For each internal phrase that you have chosen, write down a simple new phrase to replace the old. It should be present tense, short, and the positive opposite of your old phrase. For example, I am too fat becomes: I am perfect just the way I am. Even if you do not feel perfect, remember that you are taking the positive measurable actions in step #2 to change your reality, and in that sense you are perfect just the way you are! Likewise, I am broke becomes: My income is constantly increasing, and it is, because you are doing the work to make it so. Say the affirmations three times in front of the mirror every morning and every evening for two weeks, or longer if that's what it takes to believe. Also say them every time your old inner dialogue starts up. And remember to have fun! Positive change should be an empowering process even when it requires work. Enjoy!
love & blessings,
© 2011 Dailey Little. You are welcome to reproduce this article provided you do so in its entirety, including the copyright and this blurb: "Dailey Little is a Reiki Master and active practitioner. She teaches Reiki & other fun stuff through her private practice in Santa Rosa, CA. Join her joyful community for ReikiShares, Free Clinics, and eco-activism by signing up at her website, www.SantaRosaReiki.com"