February 22, 2011

The Inside Scoop on the Constant Refrain of Verbal Abuse

"You're stupid."
"You can't do anything right."
"You're lazy."
"You're so fat. Might as well eat some more, fatty."
"You get what you deserve."
"Why can't you do anything right? Are you that stupid?"
"Why start exercising or eating right, you'll never succeed."

That's just a sample of conversations I've had lately.

I wish I could make it stop, but I'm powerless.
I wish I could walk away from it, for good...but I can't.

I would never want to talk to another human being like that.

And, as a rule, I don't.

I save all that negative garbage just for me.

Sure, it probably started with my mom, when I was a little girl. She was the champion of putdowns - and she practiced all her best stuff on me.

I've carried on that tradition, but haven't shared my mad skillz with anyone - I've honed my talents in my head (and maybe said them aloud when I thought I wasn't really paying attention to the negative messages).

Like if I did something right...or good...or kind. Instantly, a putdown replaces any positive message I might receive from someone else.

As if the person delivering the compliment didn't know what the hell he/she was talking about.

And the weirdly insane part is that I know, deep, deep within myself, that I am a good person, with a fair number of good traits, and an equally fair number of faults.

I hear how I talk to others - how I am mostly positive and supportive and understanding in my communications. Oh sure, I might be a bit funny/teasing/snarky in my delivery, but I am genuinely pleased with another's good news.

I had a boss who said that he always wanted to tell me good news first, so I could "put it in perspective for him". I was the one who would ask the difficult question in company meetings - that one question that nobody else dared to ask. Part office cynic, part cockeyed optimist - that was my role.

But it doesn't translate when self-talk is taking place.

I notice this bad habit more among females - there aren't too many men who walk around berating themselves when they do something they think might be wrong.

The Mister would blame it on estrogen, the hormone that is responsible for most of the world's ills (in his opinion).

I don't know if it's hormones, or a lifetime of being put down, or ingrained in the female psyche to compare ourselves to others, and always finding ourselves lacking.

But it's gotta stop.

I have to kill the messenger, without killing the messenger (if you catch my drift).

Maybe I should start watching reruns of Stuart Smalley, and perfect the art of the daily affirmation in my life.

See the resemblance already?



  1. Why do we do this to ourselves? I met you once, liked you a lot, but you are probably thinking, "Yeah, but you don't KNOW me."
    I have decided to raise my foot as high as I can get it and kick my own ass everytime I negative self-speak. Want me to come over there and give you a swat? Seriously,everything starts and stops with our selves. My best to you. I can relate.

  2. I can certainly relate and it's the same thing I am dealing with. Fortunately I didn't have a mother that did that and I'm not sure where it came from, but it's there all the same. I'm getting much better though! Practice Practice Practice! Love Love Love!

  3. I really think we all have those awful tapes running through our heads. I know I do. It took me a long long time to stop playing them so much, but certain situations will start them playing again. Here's to positive self-talk!

  4. Hubby and I went to Marriage Encounter in the 70's and one of the big points they made was about self-talk. I tried it, and it really does work. And besides making me feel better about myself it really helped with my relationships with other people too. It's still amazes me how I can change how I feel about something someone has done, but telling myself reasons that give them the benefit of the doubt. Works for me!


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