I’ve always been a total wimp when it comes to horror films.
As a kid, watching scary Halloween movies was promptly followed by sleeping with the lights on for a week. I never quite understood the thrill others got from giving ourselves nightmares—and oh boy, did I always have them.
Deep down I knew an axe murderer wasn’t going to pop out from behind a bush at night nor would a creature be hiding under my bed. I realized that it’s not actually common for ghosts to hide in closets, however, there was still an irrational part of my brain asking,“But what if it “could” happen?”
While these are irrational fears, the truth is so many of us have our own personal horror stories happening in our heads, every single day—but, they have nothing to do with evil clowns or exorcists.
Instead, they feature horrifying stories of self-doubt that just aren’t true—tales about how we’re too fat, too lazy, not attractive enough, too old or too young—-basically, that we aren’t good enough.
These stories become a regular part of our thoughts, and although they are just stories, we continue to let them paralyze us and keep us from living fully. Instead of fearing ghosts, we fear rejection, intimacy, honesty, discomfort, and facing our own potential.
When I was beginning my own self-love journey, I would think back to my childhood terrors and how I learned to move past them. This is how I discovered that whether we’re watching scary movies or dealing with self-doubt, it’s so important to question our fears and thought patterns on a daily basis.
Inner dialogue is so powerful.
Horror filmmakers play on our biggest fears to make us feel unsafe and frightened during and after their movies. In the same vein, society has used our biggest insecurities to make us feel like we’re not enough. In both cases, our thoughts are being manipulated.
We can separate fact from fiction when it comes to scary films, so why don’t we question our own self-defeating thoughts? I think it’s because we don’t realize how much our thoughts affect us or don’t realize that questioning these self-beliefs is even an option.
Negative inner dialogue (self-talk) can get deeply ingrained in our consciousness. Most likely, it’s been going on since we were young—usually a version of what we had heard other people said about us or about those around us. We get programmed to view ourselves and the world a certain way, and a big part of self-love is rewiring that thinking.
The fear we feed grows the biggest.
I remember confiding in a friend about how scary movies would keep me up at night. Instead of agreeing, she replied, “Not me. I just roll over, go to sleep, and forget about it.” That simple conversation has stuck with me for many years, because sometimes it’s all about not giving self-sabotaging thoughts power.
Just as dwelling on a creepy plot that is 99.9 percent likely to never come true is not doing us any favors, preoccupying our brains with thoughts about our own inadequacies is not going to make them go away or get better. In fact, it’s just going to make us more miserable and lead to more anxiety and unhappiness.
Self-love sets us free.
Fear and self-doubt rob us of our full potential and keep us hidden and afraid. But by feeding the soul with self-compassion, we’re more equipped to step into alignment with our true selves and true purposes. There are several daily practices that can help us to reach this point:
1. Pay attention to our thoughts throughout the day: what we tell ourselves about our character, appearance, and work ethic. If the thoughts are negative, we can then actively challenge them. Ask, “Is that really true?” or “Is it really as bad as I think it is?” That negative voice is our inner critic, and it always exaggerates.
2. Take a moment to stand in front of the mirror, smile, and tell ourselves we’re beautiful.
3. Make a list of at least five things we love about ourselves, even if it’s hard at first. We can keep the list nearby and repeat these things to ourselves when self-doubt creeps in.
4. Be our own best friends. No one says cruel or unkind things to their best friend.
5. Take 5 to 10 minutes a day to sit in silence, breathe, and just be with ourselves. It’s amazing how empowering and intimate this can be.
6. Remember that thoughts are just that—thoughts. They only have power if we give them power. So let’s focus all our energies on the positive ones—and be surprised by just how much we start believing them.
Let’s make a point to focus on self-love and disregard the spooky, negative thoughts about ourselves. We hold the ability to change the dialogue; it just takes a little bravery and practice.
Author: Lauren Stewart
Editor: Deb Jarrett