This I Believe

Sara - Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
Entered on March 19, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
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You are What You Think You Are

I believe what you tell yourself is how you are going to feel. Self talk structures who you are and what you believe. Where you are in the moment in your head influences your actions and decisions every day.

I had to learn this the hard way. I have been struggling with major depression for over two years. It has taught me a lot about how one perceives oneself. I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel with the help of God, my parents, and my therapist. My teenage years changed from fun and carefree to periods marked by heavy depression. Even the simplest things seemed difficult to manage. I just wanted a break from everything. It was hard to look in the mirror and see anything good in myself. I was telling myself I was worthless and didn’t deserve this life. I felt I had no reason to be so depressed. I had everything: a wonderful family, great friends, everything. It wasn’t fair to everyone to have to put up with my depression. But there it was. Black and white. My self talk was “I am no good, I can’t do anything right.”

It was an ongoing tape in my head. I had to change this tape if I ever wanted to get out of this state. Thought stopping became critical. Anything negative had to be replaced with a positive self affirming thought. This certainly did not come naturally. For some people it may be natural. People with high self esteem tell themselves good messages all the time. It helps them become high achievers. What I learned through therapy is that I have to exercise this skill to develop my self esteem since it was shot all to hell. I had to educate myself, constantly be aware of my thoughts. I had to begin to identify my positive qualities and recognize them. I had to call my therapist everyday and tell her two things I like about myself. This exercise made me take a step back and realize that there really are good things about myself. Today I describe myself as capable, positive, and strong. How many kids today can say that they’ve gone through this and have picked themselves up from the gutters? I had something thrown on me, something that none of my friends have or had to deal with. Their worse day is a bad date compared to mine: a day so dark I couldn’t even imagine dealing with life. This is now my strength. It is all in how I talk to myself and perceiving things in a positive manner. I am okay today because of what I tell myself. The other day I got back a bad math test and instead of getting upset and taking it the wrong way, I chose to recognize I had the strength to improve it and I could prepare better next time. In my past I would have said “See, I am no good.”