The Prison I Created

Hello. My name is Julie and I am a people pleaser. I struggle with self-worth. I seek validation from the outside world because I often fail to see my own value. Good to be here with you all. 

That was me a year ago. 

I wish I could have blamed my horrible sense of self on that phase of my life, on being a military wife, but the truth is that I had been that person my whole life. That means that for over three decades, I have laid some serious ground work for some pretty nasty internal dialogue. There are things my thoughts have told me for so long that I whole heartedly believed them to be true. My thoughts kept me prisoner in my own life and had held me back from being the person I was...from the person I knew I was destined to become. 

Over the years I had developed one awful habit that I couldn't break. I say the word habit because that is exactly what it was. For years, I let my negative thoughts win out over the positive ones and because of that, it had become my default. One nasty habit. My negative, judgmental and harsh internal dialogue dominated my mental space. It always had. I heard once that "our thoughts sometimes lie to us". It was such a profound moment for me as I really had my first big Oprah sized "a-ha" moment. I had no idea the power I was giving to my thoughts. The notion that "just because we think, doesn't mean we are", really stopped me in my tracks that day and made me realize the habit I had...the roads that had been laid. 

I always thought those thoughts were there to keep me in line. Thoughts that everyone else had to be thinking of me and how lucky enough I was to *know* what they were thinking without anyone even uttering a word.

I could read between the lines.

I felt like those thoughts kept me safe. I thought they gave me a leg up because when people laughed they were laughing with me and not at me. A leg up because I knew what not to do and what not to say in order to be liked and in order to avoid the criticism. My thoughts told me what was appropriate and what was not. They told me where my value was and where I had none.

I used to make up these stories in my head about what everyone else thought about me and I realized one day that it was all a lie. I also realized that even if it all were true and people WERE having these thoughts about me, why did they affect me so deeply to the point where I wasn't living my truth? Why did these people and these thoughts stop me from following my true path, or saying what was really on my heart?

Being a people pleaser is exhausting and while you are so busy making sure everyone else is happy, the most important person is suffering...YOU. 

I was so consumed by these thoughts and what made me truly happy, took a back seat. FOR YEARS. YEARS...

So now I work. I work to quiet the noise. I work to re-lay new roads. I work to erase the years of damage I have done to myself and the years I spent living my life being directed by this voice. Now, I work. Every. Single. Day.

I put in the work. 

Last year, I began a journey to becoming more mindful and self-aware and part of being on this journey meant taking back the power.

It has meant a lot of hard work re-laying new roads of positive self talk. A lot of hard work to shift my old way of thinking and throwing out the old tape recorder that used to play in my head and a lot of hard work uploading a new sound track. 

Deciding to change and realizing that I needed to change was so hard but also so freeing. The moment I heard, "our thoughts lie to us", it made me realize that perhaps I am not who I once claimed to be and maybe, just maybe, I can change and be different. Maybe I don't have to be defined by my thoughts and maybe I don't have to be this person I have known for so long.  What a breath of fresh air that was for me. 

Thoughts are just thoughts. It's really quite simple. We give our thoughts so much more power than they deserve....like our conscious is a real thing who knows who we are and who we are meant to become. Strange when you think about it like that... Who is this voice and what could he possibly know about what kind of person I am or what kind of person I am destined to be? Why is this voice even a he??? 

Things that make you go hmmm...

It's only been more than a year since my big epiphany, but the hard work continues.

Stopping every time that voice rears its ugly head isn't easy, but after a year of breaking the bad habit, it comes more effortlessly. I am able to stop myself before my thoughts tear me down or lead me down a road that leads nowhere. I am able to pause before I head into a shame spiral of epic proportions. 

I am confident that after thirty years, becoming a more self assured and confident version of myself will be something I work on for the rest of my life, but just knowing that I am in control gives me power and freedom that I had never felt before. 

I took back my power and busted out of the prison I created for myself. I took accountability for my life, and you should too. Damnit it feels good.