Less of Paige

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Internal Tapes

Seeing as I'm a two-degreed social worker, you could say I've been to social work school. When I did my undergrad degree in social work, in one class (please don't ask which one. I'm not sure.) we had this whole discussion about internal tapes. At the time I really, and truly thought it was a crock of shit. We had to read a book and write a paper about our internal tapes. What it boils down to is this: we believe what we tell ourselves. If we tell ourselves we can do something, we believe it, and we can. If we tell ourselves that we will fail, we believe that and we do fail.

Almost like, what we tell ourselves is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It goes beyond what we can and cannot do, too. It's about how we think about ourselves, and life. Also, that for most of us, our internal tapes are subconcious. We don't really think about them and it takes some thought and self-searching to figure out what we really say to ourselves.

All this is to say, that lately, I've been, um, buying into the whole idea of internal tapes. When I did the paper in college, I bs-ed my way through it. I made up what I thought I should say.

What would I say now? What are my internal tapes and what do I want them to be?

Right now, when I listen to myself, I'm hearing horrible things. I say things to msyelf that I would cringe to hear said to other people. Things like, "Jeez, you're so ugly." "Don't look in the mirror, that ain't pretty" etc etc. They get worse and worse. Sometimes it's so bad that I relate everything to how I look. How shallow is that? "they must not like me because I'm fat". I know better than that, and if people don't like me for that reason, I don't care what they think anyways. I get to the point that I'm telling myself I hate myself and don't like myself, because I hate the way I look and think I'm ugly.

I have good internal tapes- I know I'm good at some things, and remind myself of them. Other's internal tapes, that people have given me, help too. My husband loves me for who I am, inside and out, and that seeps its way into my tapes. I'm good at social work. I'm a good friend. I'm a great aunt.

I'm sure everyone has both good and bad, and are telling themselves positive and negative. Some of the negative helps keep us humble. The problem is when either set of tapes are out of proportion. When you tell yourself too much good, you get cocky. When you tell yourself too much bad, you get that broad ridiculous psychological term, bad self esteem.

I'm well on my way. Now, my self-esteem has ridden some waves in life. In high school, in the gutter. The first few years of college, dangerous. The last four or so years, you could probably drop the bad. I gained some confidence in life and in myself. I started to lose some weight and overall was feeling good. The last year or so... dropping...

I have to change the tapes. When you believe in tapes, you have to believe that you have the power to change them. That gives me some power. If I can realize my tapes are negative, I can change them to positive. With a combination of changing my behavior (my eating and exercising habits, or lack thereof) and changing what I tell myself.

It sounds like psychobabble, I know. But I've got to pull the self-esteem out of the gutter, and I've got to have postive tapes again. I can't keep telling myself how horrid I am. I'm just not being fair to myself. And it's too hard to hear every day.


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