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    Free Your Mind

    By Allison England, AMFT, APCC

    Imagine you are 8 years old; you are on the playground at your elementary school. You take a quick glance around the blacktop and you notice her… the girl that has been making your life miserable. Your head fills with panic as you get a sinking feeling in your stomach. As your eyes meet with hers, you know this recess is about to shift from fun-filled to dreadful.

    She follows you around the playground. She belittles and criticizes you. At the end of your 10-minute recess, she has created a sense of dread about not only the next recess, but all the recesses and the remaining days in the school year. This bully has been the cause of a twisting stomach and wishes to avoid school at all costs. 

    Once summer finally approaches, the days free of her torment and interrupted by something you weren’t expecting. You realized that even off the playground you cannot escape her voice inside your head. You’ve internalized her message and now your own thoughts are bullying you on a daily basis. Not even summer break can bring relief! 

    You share your concerns with your parents and even ask to switch to a different school, but they dismiss your concerns, stating “mean people are everywhere, you just need to toughen up”. 

    You decide that “this is just the way things are” and you wake up every morning to a quiet sense of hopelessness. 

    Years pass, you enter adulthood, you live a somewhat “normal” life…maybe you even achieve your goals but that gnawing bully is still wreaking havoc on your thoughts and feelings. Life is dull, there are few moments of joy, even when you know that you “should” feel happy. 

    You are tired of living like this.

    Guess what?! You don’t have to live like this…

    Maybe it was the playground bully, your siblings or an overly critical parent who introduced you to these negative thoughts about your worth…but you have grown up and you get to choose what you believe about yourself and the world around you. 

    If this story resonates with you, I encourage you to carve out a few moments each day to speak truth to yourself and challenge the lies you have absorbed from the world around you. This practice can be very short, simple and sound something like this: 

    “I am worthy of kindness and love”

    “My thoughts do not define my value”

    “I can choose to ignore or dismiss any thoughts that are harmful to my wellbeing”

    “I get to decide what thoughts take up space in my mind”

    “My mind is my museum and I choose how to curate it”