Are you a negative person or a positive person? Do you look at the glass and see it half-empty or half-full? Until a few years ago, if you had asked me those two questions, I would have readily answered that yes, I am most definitely a positive person. After all, I’m always encouraging my friends. Yes, I’m that friend—the friend my friends call when they get discouraged or frustrated with life. The friend whom they can say anything and everything to without fear of being judged. The friend who will tell them that things WILL work out and actually sincerely believe it will.
Until one day I was talking to a friend about a particular tough situation I was going through and even after she encouraged me, I replied that “yeah, it’s probably never going to work out.” She seemed surprised by my negativity and shook her head and said, “I didn’t realize you were such a pessimist.” It was my turn to be surprised because I knew I wasn’t, and I immediately delved into a diatribe of how I wasn’t actually believing that it wouldn’t work out but explained how I only said that more as a way of protecting myself in case it didn’t. “You know, I just don’t want to be disappointed…just in case” I replied. She shook her head unconvincingly back at me. I know I sounded like a pessimist, but I knew I wasn’t so I tried to explain it further. “You know…hope for the best, but expect the worst.” She shook her head at me again. I wasn’t going to win this one, I realized and let it go.
But then a few hours later I caught myself with a string of negative thoughts. Nothing ever changes. Why do these things always happen to me? I have the worst luck.
And then later again, more negative thoughts. There’s no point in even trying. Man, life sucks. Why can’t I do anything right?
The funny part is I didn’t actually believe these things. At least not on a conscious level. But yet I still thought them. So what was that about? Just a momentary frustration? A blip? Or was it a reflection of what I truly did believe about myself or my life?
No…and then I realized what it was…I was just a heckler in my own life.
Hecklers…you typically hear them at events like comedy shows and sport events. You hear about them in the news when there’s a political press conference or speech.
Out of curiosity, I looked up the word to see the “official” definition, and the dictionary defined a heckler as a person who shouts a disparaging comment at a performance or event, or interrupts set-piece speeches, for example at a political meeting, with intent to disturb its performers or participants.
Interesting concept, isn’t it? That we can be hecklers in our own lives. But doesn’t that describe what we often do to ourselves in our every day lives? We taunt ourselves, telling ourselves like, “You’re an idiot!” “You can’t do anything right!”
Maybe that heckling is a result of past verbal abuse…or maybe it’s out of insecurity…or fear. However it started, it is probably now more a habit than anything. It may seem innocent enough…after all, it’s only in your head. But make no mistake…words do hurt. And you’re only hurting yourself.
Think about it. What are your fears? Speaking in front of a group? What is it you would like to do that you wish you could do if you only had the guts? And when you actually think about doing that very thing, what thoughts go through your head?
Take some time today to listen to what you’re actually telling yourself on a daily basis. Because even if you don’t believe those words, you’re still listening to yourself and those words will eventually have an impact.
As much as we all love to get encouragement from other people, we often have to be our own cheerleader. And often, believing in yourself and believing in positive things about yourself is often the first barrier into achieving our dreams and enjoying our lives.