21 Day Compliment Challenge
I have a confession to make. I am emotionally abusive to myself. On a daily basis, I will say things to myself like:
"You're a terrible mother."
"You aren't skinny enough."
"You will never have patience."
"You aren't good at anything."
"No one likes you."
This is the most prominent voice that I hear everyday, all day. No one else is saying these things to me, but the self-talk I have is powerful beyond measure. Much like victims of emotional abuse even though what I am saying is false, I believe it as truth. These negative thoughts drive my behavior and even my health.
There have been studies that show that people, like me, with negative self-talk have an increased risk for:
- Decreased life spans
- Higher rates of depression
- Higher levels of distress
- Lower resistance to the common cold
- Poor psychological and physical well-being
- Increased risk of death by cardiovascular disease
- Poor coping skills during hardships and times of stress
Negative thinking is completely destructive. I am proof of that, as I have allowed my negative self-talk to drive me into a pit of depression. Life has been very stressful and rather than coping with it well, I have resorted to negative thinking, anger and an intense desire to stay in bed all day.
Make the Change
Thank God, He put an amazing man in my life who saw that I was beating myself up. I would say things like "I'm an idiot" and he would get mad at me. "Why do you say those things?" And the answer is, I really don't know. I don't know why I talk negatively about myself. No one in my life has ever told me that I am a bad mother, no one has told me that I'm not attractive and while I am sure there are people who don't like me, no one has ever said it to my face.
Recently, my husband has started to make me give myself ten compliments every day, as an exercise to see the good in me. Every day I am supposed to text ten positive things about myself to him. IT HAS BEEN EXTREMELY DIFFICULT. At first, he allowed me to use generic compliments like "I'm a good cook" or "I'm creative". But as time as progressed, he has challenged me to become more specific and I am not allowed to repeat past compliments. Not only that, but if I say anything negative about myself, I have to give myself ten extra compliments right then and there, to counteract the negativity.
Not surprisingly, this is an actual method used by therapists to help depression patients. It is called redirecting and basically, you replace your negative thoughts with positive ones. Instead of:
"I'm a terrible mother"
"I am a good mother because I give good hugs."
Don't knock it until you've tried it. I am challenging you, for the next 21 days, give yourself ten compliments. You can write them down, text them to your spouse (like me) or recite them in the mirror. Whatever, just do it, because it will make a difference. This isn't about giving yourself an inflated ego, this challenge is about cultivating positive thinking and a healthy self-esteem.
Why 21 days? Why not 7 or 30 days? Because it has been said that it takes 21 days of consistently doing something in order for it to become a habit. So if you give yourself 10 compliments for the next 21 days, then by the end of this, it should be a habit that you can carry with you for the rest of your life.
Maybe, you feel that you have excellent self-talk. I commend you. You can still take the Compliment Challenge. Instead, give ten daily compliments to your spouse or your children. Since doing this for myself, I have started to give my kids a specific compliment each morning as I drop them off at school. It is my favorite part of the day. If you already shower your family with words of affirmation, then turn your attention to those outside the home. Your friends, co-workers, or even random strangers will benefit from your kind words.
How To Get Started
So maybe you are like I was when this first started and you are struggling to think of anything positive about yourself. Let me clarify that you don't have to be perfect at something for it to qualify as a compliment. No one is perfect, so let that expectation fall away. It will be for the best. Instead, find a balance between what you think is perfection and what you feel failure is. That center is where you will find genuine compliments that will build you and others up.
You can check out this article on how to give good compliments. It is obviously directed towards praising others, but you can easily tailor it towards yourself. Also, here is a list of character traits that might help you generate some ideas for compliments:
Here are some key things to remember for this Compliment Challenge:
- Find the balance
- Be specific
- No repeats, there are many things about you that make you special
- If you say something negative, counteract it with something positive
I hope this dramatically changes your life and improves your self-esteem. Is there another method that helps you think positively? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. I will leave you with this music video that always puts me in a good mood. Have a great day!