“Identify one supportive phrase you wish you heard more growing up. Every time you pass by a mirror today, look at yourself and say that.” ~from Tiny Buddha’s 365 Tiny Love Challenges
When I was a kid, an authority figure once told me, “If I was your age, I wouldn’t be your friend.”
I tried to act like I didn’t care so I wouldn’t give that person the satisfaction of knowing how deeply they hurt me.
But it hit me hard, and it stayed with me for years. Someone who was supposed to like me didn’t, so why would anyone else ever love me?
There was something fundamentally wrong with me. And I wasn’t good enough at anything I did. Even when I did my best, I was never the best, so that meant I was a failure.
These beliefs guided my childhood and adolescence. When I got to adulthood, I frequently sabotaged relationships thinking, “They won’t want to spend time with me. Why would they? I wouldn’t if I were them.”
And I regularly overextended myself, only to beat myself up when I inevitably failed at juggling far more than any one person should have to carry.
The voice in my head was callous and cruel. It took me years to realize it wasn’t even mine.
Growing up, many of us heard more about what we were doing wrong than what we were doing right (from people who had the same experience growing up). And for a lot of us, there were more punishments than rewards, at home and in school.
It makes sense, then, that so many of us grew into anxious, insecure adolescents, and then matured into fearful, self-doubting adults.
But we’re not kids anymore, and we know better now than to believe everything we’re told.
More importantly, we don’t have to continue hurting and criticizing ourselves. We don’t have to bully ourselves over our perceived shortcomings. We can stop the cycle.
If you follow Tiny Buddha on Facebook, you’ve likely seen the “love challenge” graphics I’ve been sharing for the last month.
Each one offers something simple you can do to improve your relationships, open yourself up to new ones, or nurture your relationship with yourself.
And each one comes from my upcoming book, Tiny Buddha’s 365 Tiny Love Challenges.
Recently, I posted the challenge below and asked Facebook followers to share what phrase they wished they heard more as kids.
Their responses reminded me that we all have the power, every day, to give ourselves the same kind of love and support we’d want from other people. In fact, it’s a prerequisite to getting love and support from others, because we’re only ever open to receiving what we believe we deserve.
We all deserve to hear these things—from others and ourselves:
1. I love you just the way you are.
2. When you need something to believe in, start with yourself.
3. I’ll always be here for you. I love you unconditionally.
4. You deserve to be happy.
5. You look beautiful.
6. Don’t be afraid—you are good enough.
7. I believe you are very capable of taking care of yourself, with or without someone else to take care of you.
8. Anything you can imagine is possible. The only thing to fear is fear itself.
9. Everything will be okay. Even if its not, it will be.
10. You are enough as you are.
11. You are an individual and are perfect the way you are now.
12. You can do anything you set your mind to.
13. It’s okay to make a mistake.
14. I believe in you.
15. You tried—that’s good enough.
16. I’m proud of you.
17. You don't need permission from anyone to dream and explore your interests and passions.
18. You have a beautiful soul.
19. You are safe.
20. You’re doing great.
21. You can do anything.
22. I want the best for you.
23. You’re handling it beautifully.
24. You are awesome, kid.
25. I love and accept you no matter what.
Imagine what the world would be like if we all told ourselves these things every day.
Imagine a world full of people who believe in themselves, encourage themselves, and forgive themselves for their mistakes.
Imagine a world full of people who speak to themselves kindly and look in the mirror and see nothing but love—and then take the positive, loving energy into their interactions with others.
I’d like to be part of that world. And I know it starts with me—and you.
Happy woman image via Shutterstock