I think it was the illustrious TV personality Dr Phil who first called them “tapes” (though I struggle to find anything online to corroborate this) and it’s become what I call them, too.
Tapes. It’s an outdated term for sure, as who listens to tapes anymore? But whenever my mind starts to repeat something negative to me, I try and tell myself to stop the tape.
My mind has not been kind to me lately.
I get the same messages in a loop when I’m feeling down. Everything from “no one really likes you” and “you just annoy people” to “you’ll never be a mother” and “why bother eating healthy foods when you’re just gonna stay fat anyway?”
Most days I can tell these thoughts to fuck off. On good days I can roll my eyes at them and remind myself how much I like myself, how my friends don’t find me annoying (and if they do, then maybe I don’t need to stick by them – I mean, I know I have flaws, but I’m likeable) and how I can definitely become a mother somehow. And I’m not fat, I’m just on the chubby side and need to eat less sugar mainly because it makes me cranky, and start to actually listen to my body when it tells me how angry dairy makes it.
On bad days it’s hard to just get going on things. I get the bare minimum done and hope that I don’t run into too many pregnant women at the shops.
Positivity goes a really long way. It’s just that over the last 18 months, with work and life stresses, I’ve been less and less positive. And I’ve written before about feeling like a failure. My mind can be very cruel, and I think obviously a large part of it is that I’m constantly hit in the face by everyone else’s seemingly-hyperfertile reproductive systems. It’s human nature that we are rapidly reproducing, and there are very little places you can go without seeing a baby or a bump.
For me it’s become all about taking deep breaths, telling myself it’ll pass and that I don’t need to listen to the negativity inside. And sometimes someone else has the tape player and can shut it off for you, just by reaching out to check in, or reminding you how much hope there still is.
Press stop if you can. Don’t let those tapes run. And on the worst days? Aim for pause.