Most of us are familiar with the line made famous by the Evil Queen, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall. Who’s the fairest of them all?” This quote comes from a children’s story, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Recently, I had my own ‘mirror, mirror’ experience. I wasn’t asking the mirror a question. Instead, I was standing in front of it yelling, “I AM NOT EQUIPPED!” That was the thought I was having in that moment and I felt the need to verbalize it. I needed to say it out loud so I could see if what I was saying made any sense. I needed to know if those words sounded foolish.
There I was, looking at myself in my bathroom mirror, reminiscing about what had occurred that day. Earlier, while working at my computer, I received a phone call from an acquaintance. I wasn’t sure why she was calling but I could tell in her voice that something wasn’t right. She began telling me that she had just left her doctor’s office and she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. I was shocked. I wasn’t expecting to hear those words from her. After processing what she said, I began encouraging her. I was sympathetic and empathetic to her situation. As a two-time cancer survivor, I understood what she was feeling.
Now, here I am, looking at my reflection, thinking, Why was I her first call? Why am I always one of the first people who someone calls when they are diagnosed with cancer? It’s a HUGE responsibility being that person who has to speak LIFE into someone when they’re facing death. That’s when I began yelling, “I AM NOT EQUIPPED!” After I said it out loud, I realized the lie I was telling myself. Sometimes, negative self-talk, or what I like to call the inner critic, tells you a lie, or an alternative fact and expects you to believe it. Expression of negative thoughts is counterproductive in your success, regardless of how you define success. The inner critic can cause you to doubt yourself and lose confidence in your abilities.
When my mouth formed those words, “ I AM NOT EQUIPPED,” I recognized it for what it was, a lie. Why am I allowing myself to have those thoughts? Having my own personal experiences with cancer has equipped me to help other people. I chose to replace the lie with the truth, “I AM EQUIPPED! I AM ENOUGH!” I am more than equipped, and more than enough when it comes to being a resource and confidant for someone diagnosed with cancer. I have gone through cancer with grace. Not only did I survive, but I thrived as a result of my experiences.
I share this ‘mirror, mirror’ story with you because we all experience negative self-talk. We all have that inner critic that tells us that we’re not good enough, we’re not worthy, we’re incapable, etc. We have to learn how to recognize and manage the negative self-talk.
Start paying attention to your thoughts and your negative self-talk. Recognize what you’re saying to yourself about yourself. Ask yourself the following questions:
Q: IS IT TRUE? WHAT BELIEF ABOUT YOURSELF IS TIED TO THAT THOUGHT? WHERE DID THAT BELIEF COME FROM?
If you deem your negative self-talk to be true, so what? Neutralize that thought and keep it moving. If it isn’t, then edit the negative self-talk, the lie, and replace it with the truth. If you’re not sure, you can try my ‘mirror, mirror’ method and say it out loud. Does the negative self-talk still ring true when you verbalize it? Most likely it doesn’t.
Thoughts are powerful. It’s important that you learn how to control them…or learn to manage them. Negative thoughts will always be there, trying to discourage us. But we have to be diligent in our self-awareness so that we can recognize them and not let them keep us from moving forward. Prove the negative thoughts wrong.
“If you hear a voice within you saying, ‘You cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent Van Gogh
Andrea D. Campbell is the author of The Beautiful Journey: Finding Purpose Through Cancer and God Never Wastes a Hurt: 3 Steps to Move from Pain to Purpose. She is also a speaker and transformational coach who is passionate about helping people step into their greatness and live…on purpose. She is a two-time cancer survivor. Facing death twice was a reminder for her to make each moment count and she wants to inspire others to do the same.