Calvin & Hobbs Up Until Now

Did you ever think that once you’ve been labeled a certain way, either by your own mind or by someone else’s, that that’s it?  That’s who you are forever?  Do you ever catch yourself saying things like, “I am such a terrible eater,” or “I can’t do it,” or “I’m so bad at this”?  I’ve had clients who have shamed themselves with words like these and it breaks my heart to hear such comments, because I know the tremendous potential that they have within them.  For some reason, somewhere in our lives, we’ve decided that it is OK to put ourselves down.  Would you ever go up to someone in the gym and say to them, “OMG!  You are SO bad at doing squats!”  My guess is you wouldn’t, because it would be terribly rude.  So, why do we do it to ourselves?  Well, without delving into your psyche, I can’t really say why you bash yourself.  I can only tell you one method that I use to stop me from bashing me.  I’ve accepted help from the innocuous phrase, “Up until now.”

As we move through the events that make up our lives, we are constantly required to make choices about which path we should take, such as from when we are young; “Should I work on my homework or should I go outside and play with my friends?” or as adults; “Should I sleep in or should I go for a run?”  When we regularly make it a habit to choose certain paths over others, we begin to believe that that’s just who we are and we will never be able to change.  I used to feel this way about many things.  Take for example, the writing of my memoir.  I began penning my personal story on numerous occasions, but each time, overwhelmed with the thought of the writing process, my scrawlings would inevitably find their way into my bedside table drawer, never to be seen again.  I used to tell myself that I wasn’t a writer because, by golly if I was a writer, I would know exactly what to do in order to bring my memoir to completion and I would follow it through to the end.  I put myself down to the point of not even bothering to try anymore.  That is until at a motivational seminar, someone handed me a pin with the words “Up Until Now” printed on it.

How simple, yet profound these words seemed.  I began to re-frame how I thought about things.  For example, whenever I caught myself thinking or saying negative things like, “I am just not able to stay away from sugar,” or “I’m not good at ironing shirts,” or “I’m bad at writing,” I would stop and say out loud, “I was unable to stay away from sugar, UP UNTIL NOW,” or “UP UNTIL NOW, I was not good at ironing shirts,” or “I was bad at writing, UP UNTIL NOW.”  Those three little words made me realize that I still had a choice in the matter… and interestingly, saying those words out loud made my brain begin to think of ways that I could make my statements become truth.  Thoughts like, “So, if I was unable to stay away from sugar up until now, that must mean that I am now able to stay away from sugar… so how am I going to do that?  Maybe I could stop buying ice cream every time I go to the grocery store.  Maybe I could get rid of whatever processed sugar I have in the house.  Maybe I could become more knowledgeable about the negative side effects of sugar,” began to run through my head.

I now realize that I no longer have to be the person I thought I was always destined to be… a sugar addict, an inferior ironer, and a bad writer.  I can travel down a different path and choose to lift myself up rather than put myself down.  How can you utilize “Up until now” to help turn your self-bashing into self-boosting?  I think it’s time to treat yourself with the respect you deserve.  Oh, and in case you were wondering… I did finish writing my memoir.  I’ve just been delaying the publishing process… up until now.