I’m a highly sensitive extrovert. My sensitivity is not to be confused with the weepy characters we stereotype; I am outrageously perceptive and influenced by the mood and emotions of others. And yet I crave the sense of community and camaraderie that comes with interacting with others. I need people. Recently, I find this unfortunate personality combination to be taking more control of my thoughts than I’d like and leaving me with feelings of negativity and self-doubt.
I’ve been spending a lot of time reading and reflecting on the role negative thoughts play in my life. These little smidgens begin simply enough – a comment that was just slightly damaging. Not always outright but there was perhaps something in their tone or the awkward pauses that leaves me analyzing myself. Did I say something wrong? Did I come across as overbearing? Do they secretly hate me?
And like an ear worm, it festers and grows. It takes root and before I realize it, the negative feelings have strangled out my positive intentions.
Aviva Romm recently discussed the influence of Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs). How quickly I spring to an automatically negative response when faced with a challenge or opportunity.
You are not worthy.
You are not good enough.
You will fail.
You are not qualified.
You will be laughed at.
As I type this, I realize how egocentric and self-centered this is. How much of my life do I spend thinking about myself and how others perceive me? When I think of a narcissist, I think of someone who is arrogant and overly confident. Yet here I am, spending so much time thinking of myself and wallowing in my own self-doubt.
I went to a yoga class this week. With all of the emotional and physical stress that has manifested recently, I took a month long self-perscribed hiatus from exercise and have gradually been easing my way back toward activity and yoga seems to be my favorite “I forgive you” gift for my body. As I’m laying in shavasana trying not to think, I’m overwhelmed by the thought of how absurd and incredibly selfish it is for me to spend so much energy thinking about the lies I tell myself.
My husband loves me with an unfailing, infallible love. My children think I am capable of anything. I have a healthy body and although it has faltered, it is strong and good. I serve a risen Savior who found me worthy of his own despair.
When I let negative, self-doubting thoughts take root and strangle out my joy and confidence, I am essentially telling those who love and support me that they are wrong. That I don’t believe them and that their confidence in me is in vain. I am discounting their confidence and replacing it with my own message of untruths. I am calling them liars.
When you start viewing yourself through the eyes of those who love you, you begin to realize that this life isn’t about you. You have nothing to prove. You have nothing to gain. What you need is what you have – people who love you unconditionally – and that there is nothing you can do, say, succeed or fail at that will influence their perception of you.
And if it they are so easily influenced, then they aren’t worthy of you.
You are worthy.
You are amazing.
You are good enough.
You are beautiful.
You are capable.
You are loved.
Please believe it.