What You Say to Yourself and About Yourself Matters

Hi. My name is Rachel. Infidelity not only impacts our relationship with our partners, but it also affects the relationship we have with ourselves, as we're grappling with a new reality that we didn't expect or ask for.

We may also notice some negative messages, words, thoughts, and beliefs about ourselves. This inner bullying voice only seems to add more pain to the stress, emotions, and trauma that we're already navigating. This voice may tell us things and remind us of all of the ways that we've failed, missed warning signs, or red flags. It may even tell us that we weren't enough to keep our partners satisfied, or that we're never going to heal through this.

The way we talk to ourselves matters. Our inner voice can keep us stuck in patterns of self-loathing and fuel feelings of low self-worth. Our ability to recover and heal can be influenced by the words that we speak to ourselves. We can become our own worst enemies or become our greatest allies. I care about this topic so much because my inner voice was in the tanks following discovery.

Even before the infidelity, I had moments where I struggled with self-talk. And I still do at times. I'm sure many of you have experienced similar struggles. But it’s important to recognize that our words hold power and our brains react to those words. Picture a skier carving a new trail down a mountain - our thoughts are like that path, shaping our experiences.

As the skier uses that trail more and more, what happens to it? It becomes smoother, more compacted, deeper, more well-established. The analogy happens to our brains too. The more we think, speak and believe things about ourselves, the more ingrained and entrenched those thought patterns become. To create new paths, we need to use life-giving and positive words.

So let me ask you, have you caught yourself thinking, “I’m not good enough”? Or maybe, “what’s wrong with me”? And that's why my partner made the choices they did. Or, “Why can’t I just get over this?” And you carry general feelings of blame or shame.

Perfectionism, low self-worth. How do we stop going down these same trails?

After one of our therapy sessions, my therapist gave me an assignment. She said, “I want you to go home and I want you to write affirmations for yourself, and I don't want you to just write them down. I want you to speak them out. And then I want you to record yourself saying them. So next time you're feeling crummy about yourself and you can't say anything nice, you're going to play that recording and you're going to listen to your voice.”

And I'll tell you, at first that exercise just sounded super cheesy. I was very reluctant to try it. One, I just didn't feel great about myself in my situation, and it felt really inauthentic to try to come up with positive words about myself.

But when I did finally start to experiment with this, I didn't say words or phrases that were really far-fetched or grandiose. There was no, “I'm the greatest woman alive” or “I'm going to be healed in three weeks.” Rather, I used phrases about things that could be true of me, even if I didn't believe it at that moment.

Here are some examples: “I deserve genuine love and loyalty. I trust God and I trust the process of healing. I am deserving of a relationship built on trust and honesty. I am stronger than this betrayal.”

Now, I challenge you to do the same. Create your own affirmations. And remember, it’s okay if it feels strange at first.

It's okay if it feels like an outright lie. It's okay if it feels cheesy. Your brain will catch up and adjust over time. We can't flip the script on our inner narrative overnight. It takes time, effort and practice, just like that skier carving a new path. But trust me, recovery is the perfect time to focus on building ourselves up from the inside out. Even if we’re not getting positive words from others, we can give those words to ourselves.

We can remind ourselves of our inherent worth, value and belovedness.

You deserve kindness and compassion, especially from yourself.

Please remember that. Until I get to see you again, take good care of yourself.

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