As humans we have a tendency to hold on to all the “negatives”. We remember the mean and hurtful things that people say. We criticize ourselves far too often. We allow the negatives to pile up in our minds leaving little to no room for anything positive. Because of this, it may be difficult to recognize the good. We are programmed to believe that thinking or saying anything positive about ourselves will make us appear cocky or conceited; and we feel as though putting ourselves down is being “humble”.
Aside from running BE WISE, I work at a high school as the youth advocate. My biggest priority for my students is to help them recognize their worth. While their attendance and grades are so important, helping themto understand their significant role in life means far more to me.
One of the projects I did with my students was called “I AM ABLE”. As I met with my 80+ students one on one I asked them to describe themselves with one positive word. It broke my heart as many of them struggled to come up with one word. So, I turned it into a little game... Bear with me as I explain the game to you.
Pretend that you are one of my darling students as I give you a few directions...
I want you to go inside your mind and create a “mini you”. Do you see yourself? What are you wearing? I bet you look great! Now, I need that “mini you” to run around and gather up all of the “negatives” inside your brain. So, this includes anytime anyone has ever said anything hurtful, any yucky experiences, or anytime you have ever thought anything negative about yourself. Are you doing it? Did you get them all? How big is your pile? Make sure you don’t leave ANY behind.
Next, I need you to take that pile and put it in the “garbage can of your brain”; we all have one, what color is yours? Perfect.
Now, when you throw garbage away at your home, do you just let it pile up all over your house? I sure hope not. That would be pretty gross. What do you do with it? Chances are, you probably take it outside to the big garbage cans. Well, what happens after that? The garbage man comes, right? And he takes your trash to the dump.
Let’s go back inside your brain for a minute. We just threw away your negatives, its time to take the trash out. I need you to create a mini garbage man to come and take your trash to the dump. Did he come? Good. What a nice guy.
Now, in real life, how often do you go to the dump to visit your trash? Do you ever worry about it, think about it, or go check up on it? Probably not. That would just be weird. It’s trash. It’s at the dump where it belongs. There is no reason for you to go and visit it.
Okay... Back to your brain... We just gathered up all your negatives, threw them away, and the garbage man just took them to the dump - because let’s be honest - those negatives were all trash. You don’t need them anymore.
And guess what... w e d o n ’ t v i s i t t h e d u m p . Once those negatives are thrown away, there is no reason to go visit them.
Sometimes our negatives creep back in - and sometimes new ones appear. That’s fine, and totally normal. When it happens, simply “take them to the dump.”
Just like you wouldn’t let trash pile up in your house, don’t let trash pile up in your mind. TAKE IT TO THE DUMP. Once its there, let it go. Don’t go visit. Don’t go say “what’s up”. Leave it there.
Now that all your “negatives” are gone, you have plenty of space in your brain for all things “positive”. You can clearly see yourself and who you are because your vision is not clouded by yucky negatives. So, since you can see yourself clearly, you don’t have negatives getting in the way, tell me who you are. What is one positive word that describes YOU? Don’t be shy, don’t hold back. Tell me who you really are.
At this point I got out a piece of paper and a sharpie. I then asked the student to write “I AM______” and fill in the blank with the word they chose. After they wrote it, they had to hold the paper up, (in front of their face for privacy reasons) and let me take a picture.
With those photos I created a video that STILL brings me to tears each time I watch it. My office is also filled with their “I AM...” images.
Just as my students are ABLE, just as they took their negatives to the trash, you too have power beyond comprehension. Your mind is so incredibly powerful. Do not feed it lies. Do not fill it with trash. Being your best self mentally means monitoring the things you allow into your mind.
As you read through "Be Your Best Self: MENTALLY", our latest issue of BE WISE, I hope that you are able to learn how to be your best self mentally. That you will recognize the power of your thoughts and strive to consciously CHOOSE to “throw away the negative” and hold on to the positive.