What are the 3 things that stop us being the best version of ourselves?

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I’m not perfect. I’m not an angel. I have made loads of mistakes – and some pretty colossal ones at that – but I start each day as I started the one before: trying to be a better version of myself yesterday.

That’s all.

Not trying to be perfect, or ‘fixed’, or anything like that.

Just doing my best, and trying as hard as I can each day to correct my behaviour and my thoughts and words, just enough to have moved myself further forward than I was yesterday.

And to be honest, some days I don’t get there.

Some days, when I give in to negativity and hate and shame I reel back into the past somewhere, instead of going forward.

And when that happens, when the sun comes up the next day, I reset and start again. I try again.

And throughout my recovery, I have realised (finally) that there are 3 things that will also stop my growth, and always send me backwards to where I don’t want to be any more.

And all three are, in one way or another, related to talk and the words that I use, and that I allow other people to use.

How I talk to myself, about myself.

Self-talk and self-love are, for me, inextricably connected.

Regardless of how someone else thinks about me, unfortunately my default response was always (and sadly still is sometimes) that I was unlovable, untrustworthy, unreliable, and unworthy.

I don’t really remember when that started, but I know that for a long time in my life, it determined things I did, and things I said, and how I acted in general.

But I know that, today, when I speak poorly about myself, to myself, I act poorly. It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy for me: I think I’m no good, so I act in a way that’s no good, and then I say to myself, “See? You’re no good.”

What a shit-show.

Fortunately, though, the opposite is also true. When I give myself a rap, and speak and think kindly about myself and that I am doing my best and trying to move forward, it’s inevitably what I do. The language that we use when we think about ourselves is really, really important.

I would never say half of the things to someone else, that I say to myself.

I certainly wouldn’t call anyone else some of the names that I call myself sometimes.

And if I was near you when you said some of those things to or about someone else, I would chip you too.

But when it’s me talking about me? It’s open slather.

And that has to change, so that I can.

And if I think for a minute that someone gossiping to me isn’t also gossiping about me, then I must have rocks in my head.

How I allow other people to talk to me.

The second thing, then, is how I let other people talk to me. There are two parts to this for me: the words they say to me about me, and the things that they say to me about other people.

Let’s start with that: gossip sucks. I mean, it really sucks.

Not only is it, more often than that, either complete rubbish and untrue anyway, but often it’s something that has absolutely nothing to do with me and my life.

And if I think for a minute that someone gossiping to me isn’t also gossiping about me, then I must have rocks in my head.

When I allow people to speak poorly about other people to me, and I don’t pull them up for it, I am complicit in it. There are no two ways about that. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

But even worse, when I allow people to talk to me in a way that is derisive or mean or not recognising of my effort, or how hard I am trying to be the best version of myself, I take a huge step back. Towards them.

It stops me from growing because it reminds me that that was who I used to be, and who I can be sometimes still. And it just stokes the smouldering embers of that dumpster fire that I have been in the past.

But I’m not anymore. I’m nothing like the person I used to be. And tomorrow, if I don’t let people speak to me in a less-than-helpful or negative way, I will be yet another step away from the person I was.

How I talk about other people.

And then finally, the way that I speak about other people is another metric of how well I am doing myself.

I don’t think there are successful haters. Well, certainly not successful for very long.

You don’t really hear people that are doing well in life, hating on other people. They are happy. And if anything, they are more likely to put out a hand to help other people get to where they are.

People who are not doing so well, people who are just miserable and full of hate and envy, are the ones who speak badly about other people.

That’s been me, for sure.

And I know that it’s an early sign for me that when I start to speak to, and about, people negatively, then I am probably not going very well myself.

I am getting better and better at recognising this, though, and I can arrest it and transfer that energy into something more positive (mostly).

But when I can’t, when I get trapped in that miserable place where I am being miserable, and other miserable people are encouraging my misery because it serves their own miserable agenda too, well … it’s pretty shit for everyone really.

So, when I can firstly be aware of how I am talking to myself, how others are talking to me (and I am allowing it), and how I am talking to – and about – other people, and then when I can do something about changing my behaviour, that’s when I get back on the road towards being the best version of myself.

It doesn’t have to be huge leaps. It doesn’t have to be massive and obvious gestures. It’s just about making an effort, doing my best, and promoting kindness.

Nick Bowditch

Nick Bowditch

Nick Bowditch is a motivational speaker, best-selling author, of 'Reboot Your Thinking' and 'Actually, it IS all about me', and therapist. He is also a successful (and unsuccessful) entrepreneur, TEDx speaker, inspirational storytelling expert, blogger, he makes podcasts, he's a mental health advocate, a sexual abuse victim, and someone who lives with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is also a survivor.

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