Picture This: No More Toxic Thoughts

This is perhaps one of the most effective tips I’ve received for eliminating toxic thoughts, low-self esteem, and self-loathing. A friend of mine from shamanic training shared it and swore by its results. It’s helpful for those times we’re really hard on ourselves, when we feel hopeless, or when we feel that we can’t seem to do anything right.

Whether a mood or a hardship has you blaming yourself and surfacing every mistake you’ve ever made and every flaw you have, there’s a simple way for those demeaning thoughts to come to a halt. Of course awareness of what you’re doing and how unhelpful those thoughts are for you, your health, and your success is a start. Once you realize your harmful thoughts are circulating, escalating your emotions, and ultimately making you feel worse, do this…

Are you ready?

Have handy a picture of yourself from when you were a kid. For maximum effectiveness, carefully go through photos and choose one of Little You that is flattering, funny, or captured a fond memory. My friend I mentioned above said he liked to carry his photo in his wallet so it would be accessible to him wherever and whenever he needed it. As you dish yourself the nastiest insults, look at your photo. 

Well, that’s me!

Would you say all of those mean and hurtful things to a child? If the child in the picture were listening to you, would you tell them everything you’re telling yourself now? To give up? That the years to come are awful, and it’s all your fault? How cruel! But the person in the photo is also you. You as a grown person don’t deserve those bullying insults or dream demolition.

For a while I was under the impression that being hard on myself was a way to be better or to motivate myself. Challenging yourself is perfectly healthy, but punishing yourself for defeat, in my experience, is completely counterproductive. A note I keep as a self-reminder (I must have read something like it and paraphrased it) is “picking yourself apart will not fuel you to thrive.”

After looking at the little face each time you’re feeling badly about yourself, you may notice how and what you say to yourself is a slightly more forgiving or up-lifting. Even if “How can you be so stupid?!” turns into “Well, this is a set-back I could have anticipated,” you acknowledge but do not dwell in the fault. Take responsibility, and have just enough optimism to remain intact. Focus on the changes you can make, and notice how one of the biggest changes you can make is in your perspective. 

When I use my photo, I’m reminded of all of the experiences that have happened in between. I’m excited for her knowing there is so much joy she has yet to feel, and I’m not worried about her facing the hardships because I know I made it through them.

Pretend Grown You is the mentor for Little You, then take your own advice. Make Little You proud! 

Go continue to grow free from stifling, toxic thoughts. If you like this page, please share it! 

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