I held a Crayola-scented plastic box in my two small hands, organizing my helter skelter mess of a craft center. My mother poured a random assortment of useless objects into the box and told me to label it “Miscellaneous.”
“Mom,” I said, in complete earnest. “Who is Miss. Ellaneous… and why does she need this box of junk?”
This silly little story proves two things. It first proves that I was once the most idiotic and gullible second grader known to mankind. Second, it proves how easy it is to make illogical conclusions and believe them for years. Deep down, I knew there would be no reason to have a box of stuff for a random Pageant Queen (because obviously Miss. Ellaneous was a pageant queen…never hire me as a detective), but I believed it nonetheless.
And this is why — for years and year—I fully convinced myself that I was unattractive and worthless. And while I can only speak for myself, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this illogical assumption.
The Epidemic of ‘Sales Culture’
You see, we belong to a sales culture. Each advertisement seems to scream, “You’re perfect…almost. Buy insert your choice of product and then you’ll finally reach perfection.” But you never do, because there’s tens of thousands of ads telling you the same thing all with different flaws.
I saw models and actresses with thin waists, long legs, and beautiful smiles and I compared my awkward chubby 12-year-old body to them. I became discontent with my physical appearance and eventually with my whole being. Logically, I knew I was not giving myself a fair comparison. But illogically, I believed I was hideous solely based on the fact that I was not as tall or pretty as a super model (reason number two why I was a thick-headed child).
The Negativity Loop
These messages build on one another, until a sort of negativity loop appears in the brain. The Negativity Loop, in simple terms, is the pattern formation of lies we continue to feed ourselves each and everyday. This loop lies within every girl and boy’s head – “I can’t do this” “I’m so untalented” etc. Regardless of how far-fetched the belief is, it becomes etched into our brain pathways and becomes truth in our eyes.
These loops stop us from being our best selves and from loving every inch of ourselves – from the tips of our toes to the fly away hairs on our heads.
People often tell me I’m a pretty positive person; a ‘sunshine’ kind of person if you will. But it doesn’t come easy. I constantly have to remind myself I’m not a Pageant Queen, and that’s okay. Every day is a decision to work through the negativity loops in my life and fight against them. Over the years it’s gotten easier and easier, but there are still times of struggle.
While I can’t guarantee this will work as well for you, my best weapon for years has been reprogramming my negative loops into positivity loops. Hopefully this will help you figure out the best way to personally break your negativity loops.
Instead of thinking:
No one likes me.
Rather than immediately dismissing the thought (leading to deeper residual angst down the road), embrace it and try to better understand the root of it. Why do you think no one likes you? Are you lonely? Have you recently gotten in a fight with a loved one? Do you miss someone? After identifying the issue, I write down five people that care deeply about you, and open up to one of them about your emotions. Even if it’s just one person, that’s a start.
Instead of thinking:
I’m so ugly.
Try to find five things you love about yourself (both inside and outside!) and focus on those features instead (I did this with my campers who first thought it was silly, but then started to love it!). Dress up in your favorite outfit, treat yourself to a little TLC, and remember that you are uniquely you! It’s all the quirks and idiosyncrasies that make you unique and beautiful – you just have to believe it!
I can’t do it.
Thomas Edison came up with 1000 ways not to invent a light bulb. JK Rowling was rejected 12 times before someone agreed to publish Harry Potter. All it takes is a little grit, a little luck, and a whole can-do-it attitude.
What negativity loops do you struggle with? And what do you do to break the loop? Leave your response in the comments section below!