Raise your hand if you had or have a membership in the Negative-Thinking Club?
My hand is raised, and I would have both hands raised if I wasn’t typing this article.
When I was young, I put myself down all the time. I never saw myself as “good enough.” My friend Mike was much smarter than me. Paul was a better athlete than me. Mark looked like a model, and Chris was hysterically funny.
In my family, John was a genius, and Maria was popular. Then there was me. Not even an “average Joe” but a subpar kid who believed he didn’t fit in. I felt weird. I shaved lines into my hair, wore painter pants with a colored bandana hanging from the pocket, and played games against myself like “wire ball” so I would have a chance of winning. However, I usually lost.
One day, I was having an awful day. I walked around the house in a gloomy mood. Suddenly, I broke down and told my dad that I felt that everyone was better than me. To ease my mind and make me feel significant, my dad said, “We all put on our pants one leg at a time.” Little did he know I didn’t! My technique for putting on pants was to lay on the bed, swing my pants above my head, and swoop both legs into the pant legs, SIMULTANEOUSLY! I thought, “I can’t even put on my pants in a normal fashion.”
As I worked through those awkward teenage years, something changed in me. Weird became unique. My self-talk began to change. I started getting A’s in college. I discovered I had many talents. I noticed I had a unique writing style and was quick-witted. My odd “vintage clothes” style separated me from the pack. I walked around with my head slightly higher, a bit more confident. Still weird, but happy in my weirdness.
What changed for me, you ask? My thoughts. Not like some A-Ha moment where I thought, “Holy shit, I can be awesome if I start thinking positively.” Nope. Nothing like that. My thought transformation was a word at a time, a thought at a time, one sentence at a time. My thoughts became slanted towards the positive side of the scale. I started experiencing positive emotions as a result. I never noticed a change in my thoughts or behaviors but a change in my outlook and outcomes. I was able to take a risk without being petrified. I arrived at a point where I could fail but not feel like a failure.
I still have negative thoughts at times, such as, “Really, you call yourself a writer and type with only one finger. For god’s sake, even your 10-year-old daughter uses all her fingers when striking the keyboard.” Instead of feeling bad, my weirdness puts things in perspective, “I may type slower than other writers, but if I lost nine fingers in an axe-throwing competition, I could still continue my career as a freelance writer!”
The takeaway is you can break out of the negative thinking chains that have restricted your life.
Here are some of the lessons I learned:
You cannot think positively 100 percent of the time. Tipping the scale to 51 percent positive will start making a difference.
Change is slow. Be patient!
Being different is an asset. Celebrate your uniqueness and put on your pants however the F*$% you want to put on your pants.
Refrain from comparing yourself to others. They are dealing with their own insecurities. In your special way, try to be the best version of yourself each day.
You are better than good enough, so stop lying to yourself!
Find the positive. When you highlight your positive qualities, more irrefutable attributes will appear.
My hope is you can see your value, celebrate your uniqueness, and live your best life. You have something unique to offer the world, and that gift can come from no other person.
Stay weird, my friends!