The modern world can bring challenges. There seem to be more pressures, more to do, more balls to juggle and we often doubt ourselves. We scroll through our social media newsfeeds, comparing ourselves to the lives of others and telling ourselves we fall short.
We all do it: “why doesn’t my house look like that? I’m not earning enough but I’m not good enough to get a better job. I’m stuck. I’m not capable of anything else. She’s doing this so much better than me. I’m failing. I’m rubbish. I’m boring. I don’t even cook from scratch every night! I’ve put on so much weight, I look awful. Nobody would find me attractive. I’m not good enough. Meh.”
Did you hear about a little anti-bullying/negative voice experiment that took place in 2018?
IKEA asked a group of students to look after two practically identical houseplants that were placed in their school. Both plants were given the same amount of water, fertilizer and sunlight for the same 3o day period. But there was a twist.
Each group of students were asked to record themselves: one group saying kind, supportive and loving words and one group saying hurtful, insulting, critical, harsh words. One plant was played the kind and supportive voices every day for the full 30 days whereas the other plant was constantly played the harsh and hurtful words. Everything else was exactly the same. The only difference in their controlled environments were the words and tones of voice that the plants heard.
So what happened… Can you guess?
The plant that only heard kind and supportive words and voices thrived. It grew and remained healthy. Whereas the plant who was exposed to the critical voices and words appeared to wilt. Could this have been a coincidence? Maybe, we can’t rule it out but I do believe there is a lesson in this.
The aim of this experiment was part of Ikea’s anti-bullying lesson. But we can apply this to our daily lives and how we talk to ourselves; our own inner voices. At a basic level, we should always remember that words hurt, whether said to others or ourselves; to plants, animals or humans.
Our inner voice becomes negative. Why do we so often feel that we’re not good enough?
The truth is that nobody is perfect but WE ARE ALL ENOUGH, just as we are right now. Never forget to keep telling yourself that.
So stop the guilt. Recognise that you are worthy of happiness and don’t forget to tell yourself that every day. ‘I am good enough’ is now pinned to my kitchen cupboard as my morning reminder when I’m reaching for the teabags!
How to Cultivate a Positive Inner Voice
Feed and nurture yourself. Keep a gratitude journal and write down three things you’ve done well every day. And three good things that have happened to you each day, however small. They are all worthwhile.
Congratulate yourself for the little things as well as your bigger achievements. Getting to work on time, smiling at a stranger and making them feel noticed and appreciated (and notice when people do it to you too), cooking a tasty meal, showing kindnesses – and receiving them too. Any little thing that you can complement yourself for. Don’t beat yourself up, mistakes happen. We are only amazingly, wonderfully, human and are allowed to make mistakes.
Feed yourself, water yourself, nurture yourself and use your inner voice to speak to yourself how that one group of students spoke to that plant. And watch yourself slowly begin to develop and thrive.