I Allowed Harsh Words to Shape My Existence

For far too long, I allowed harsh words that were said to me shape my existence. Not only did I listen to those criticisms, but I also started to internalize and believe them. 

It's incredible how repeated negativity can slowly erode your self-worth and confidence. Doubt creeps in, casting shadows on your true self, your unique qualities, and the brilliance that defines who you truly are.

Words of Unworthiness Soon Became My Own

I found solace in food, watching my once athletic physique honed through five years of dedication as a trainer, fade away in mere months. I became a stranger in my own skin.

It was as if I were spiraling into an abyss without a bottom—a dark cocoon of self-doubt with no end in sight. I not only listened to that negative voice, but I embraced it wholeheartedly. 

Among all the damaging whispers, the notion of being undeserving of love echoed the loudest. Slowly, I could feel myself relinquishing all that I had strived for, convincing myself that none of it truly mattered.

A woman shown in two images to illustrate self care - one before and one after.

Left: April 2022, It is embarrassing to show this. I feel like anyone but myself. Right: July 2023, 16 months of training and 8 months of positive words.

Then One Day I Decided to Stop My Vast Descent

I decided one day after being unable to recognize myself, to take the first steps going back to a gym. The first two steps of walking into the door were my toughest training steps ever taken.

Embarrassment, shame, anxiety, and fear coated my body like a shield as I walked in, head down. I walked immediately to the back of the gym, straight outside, and faced a wall pretending to stretch; my back facing the entire room. 

I stood there for 10 minutes. Barely moving.

Then I began.

Changes were happening, but were minimal. I kept going.

While physically I was finally moving, the words inside my head didn’t change. It wasn’t that I wasn’t doing those push ups, or cleaning up my eating. I was still believing the negative words. I hadn’t granted myself permission yet to embrace my own worth.

I finally began to surround myself with people with positive talk. People who were kind. People who believed in me. People who created a safe space where I could exhale and let my guard down. 

Over time I began to change inside. I got rid of the negative talk. Not only did I not believe it anymore, I didn’t give it an audience.

And that’s when change began to happen.

Walking into the Gym Before & After Negative Talk

When I believed the negative words:

  • Keep your head down.

  • Go to the back.

  • Don't make eye contact.

  • Just get it done and get out.

Now With Positive Self Talk: 

  • Can't wait to talk to all of them.

  • Who can I bother to talk sports with?

  • Who can I banter with?

  • Any and all of you.

Positive Self Talk Allowed Me To Try Something New

I played golf recently. Actually, it looked more like a field hockey game. I whiffed more than I connected. And when I did connect, the ball stayed level at the shoulder line. It was not pretty. In fact, it was awful. 

And I had the best time. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. The next day, my ribs and abs were sore not from my athleticism (or lack there of it), but from laughing.

Top 5 Things I Learned in Taking My Life Back

Her are five core lessons that guided me back to reaching my authentic self:

  • Your body is a reflection of your stress. Be mindful of your body's responses; external influences like stress, negativity, and criticism can shape your well-being. We are susceptible to the situations around us. Take back the reins. 

  • Anchor yourself. Be the calm in the storm. Despite what is happening or being said around you, center yourself. Remind yourself of who you are. Recognize that others' negative words reflect their own insecurities. Refuse to let them cast their shadow on you. 

  • Up Your Game. Do what you need to do to improve yourself. Much of how we change depends on our preparation before the big game, before the workout when no one is watching. The result can often be determined in what we eat, amount of sleep, and the words we deliver to ourselves.

  • Be the light of optimism in your own life. Empower yourself with the conscious choice that your light is your responsibility alone. Rely on no one else. You hold the power to manifest the energy and mindset you desire in your life.

  • Stand tall. No matter where you are in your journey, I can guarantee you that you are 30 steps closer to your goal if you don’t give an audience to negative words. We often forget where we started, and the mountains we have already climbed. We need to credit ourselves and stand tall in all our accomplishments. 

Head up. Chin up. Challenge yourself to act and behave as the person you’ve been afraid to become. That person has always been inside you, you just need to believe in yourself and have the courage to allow others to see you, too.