Who are you? No, I am not asking about your name, age, occupation or other obvious facts. I am asking about the secret ‘My self-esteem sticker book’ you started a long time ago (or, to be precise, it was started for you).
It might reside in the ‘attic’ of your brain and rarely come out or it might be so ‘cherished’ that you turn to its favourite pages quite often and are even show it to others.
Everyone has this secret book of personal labels they have received from others. As a kid, you might hear: ‘You are so clever!’ and you place a ‘clever’ sticker in your ‘What am I?’ book. Or you might hear: ‘You are a nasty piece of work!’ and a ‘nasty’ label gets placed into your book.
By the time you reach your late childhood, you can no longer carry this book around, so huge it’s become! It’s now full of labels from all sorts of sources, including your own personal opinion of yourself. You might try hard to give some labels away, trade them, exchange them, but your book keeps growing.
When you find yourself wearing ‘depression glasses’, something strange occurs: the same or similar label stickers grow in size, get brighter, shinier while the ‘odd’ ones get harder to spot as they tend to shrink proportionally: ‘SHY!’ ‘STUPID!’ ‘MESSED UP!’ etc.; ‘kind!’, ‘considerate!’ funny!’ etc.
There are also ‘special’ stickers. I call them ‘false trauma stickers’. Sometimes you only need to hear a label once and it’s instantly massive. It all depends on who said it, when it was said, how vulnerable were you at the time, how much pain it caused you, etc.
So, what can you do to lighten up your ‘self-esteem sticker book’ and begin feeling good about yourself?
The logical solution could be to take your ‘depression glasses’ off. However, anyone who wears glasses permanently will tell you that if you do that you’ll begin to bump into things, become a hazard and endure different pain and discomfort. You need some kind of qualitative shift, like a sight correction or contact lenses or…I am lost for ideas…
So, while you are searching for a solution to chuck away your ‘glasses’, try this exercise:
When you catch yourself mentally flipping through your ‘My self-esteem sticker book’ and calling yourself negative damaging names, find a place to sit down. Relax as much as you can and imagine these labels in front of you: What do they spell? How big are they? What colour? Notice all the specific details.
Then imagine peeling them off, tearing them up and throwing them away. Imagine them gone out of your book forever. Imagine taking a new, large, bright and colourful label of your choice and writing the word that makes you glow from the inside out. Now, imagine as vivid as you can, sticking this label in your book! Done!
If you have problems visualising the stickers, you can use real labels. Write the distressing label down, destroy it and create a new uplifting and inspiring one! Then, stick it somewhere you can see it daily! It’s yours to keep!
Stay strong, remain hopeful and seek inspiration!
Image: by Tom Martin