THEN: I was self-conscious in the car while driving.  I even tried to drive “perfectly.”

NOW: Driving is one of the most relaxing things I do today.  It helps me think and gives me time to process things. I can sing in the car and talk to myself out loud in my car.  I sometimes still feel the person in the car next to me at the stop light might be looking at me, but it is not a big deal at all.

THEN:  I was abused by certain people and let them do so. I didn’t know I had the right to be treated with respect simply because I am human.

NOW:  I know I am a good person and don’t deserve to be abused.  Abuse is wrong, and nobody deserves to be abused.  If someone abuses me, I leave and/or set boundaries.

THEN:  I felt the way things were going in my life were hopeless.  I didn’t know what to do to get better.

NOW:  Through therapy, I have learned of the choices I have and the things to tell myself in order to feel better bit by bit.  I learned I always have choices and little steps that I can take to slowly move my life in a more positive and healthier direction.

Little steps are often all I need to take and all I can handle in the moment sometimes.  I know life has lots in store for me, and as long as I let it, things will slowly unfold. I am presently looking forward to graduate school and to meeting more friendly and kind people along the way.

THEN: I thought I had to be perfect.

NOW: I still have perfectionistic tendencies, but I am aware today that the work to be done is not to try to be “better,” but to accept myself for who I am, flaws and quirks and all.  I don’t need to concentrate on my flaws.  When I act “imperfectly,” I can just move on and not make a big deal out of it, because everyone makes mistakes. It is part of being human to make mistakes.  I don’t need to change who I am.

THEN:  I thought I had to please people.  I lived as a people pleaser.   I ignored my own feelings and needs.

NOW: It is most important for me to please myself.  My life is about me and belongs to me. As long as I am not hurting anyone, I can pretty much do what I want.  It is important to meet my own needs and take care of myself first.   It’s not selfish to do so… in the long run, it is the only way I can give to other people.

THEN:  I thought it was the right thing to do to impress people.

NOW: I’ve learned impressing people is not necessarily going to make them like me.   It helps if I tell myself it is more important to be a truly good person instead of presenting a façade of who I am.   I also tell myself that instead of trying to be better, to “try to be more human.”

THEN:  I thought what I said had to be important, funny, witty, have substance, etc.   I thought I had to change what I was really thinking so my speech would be one of these things. 

NOW: That takes too much work.  Now I know it is okay to say most anything that comes up for me in the moment, as long as it does not hurt anyone.  The most important thing is to just be myself and say what I honestly think.   I don’t need to say anything earth-shattering or even interesting.  Nobody is interesting all the time.   Today I venture to say more often the simple things I have on my mind.

THEN:  I thought if I had an idea, it was important to blurt it out as soon as possible and thought that this would be most understandable and well-taken.

NOW:  Things are more understandable to others if they are calmly and clearly presented! I am practicing the concept of slow-talk and am able to sound more clear, calm, and peaceful.

THEN:  I also thought I had to rush through everything I did (from work to waiting in line at the supermarket) and that it was not okay to “make people wait.”

NOW:  I learned it is important to slow down to the “pace of life.”   Nobody is rushing me except for me. Everyone is human and has the right to go at a pace comfortable to them.   Recently, I slowed down at the bank and struck up a pleasant conversation with the bank teller.

THEN:  I wanted my safe person to be with me to every social activity I was in.

NOW:  I am learning that most people are relatively safe and I can learn to feel comfortable with them if I let myself get to know them over time.   I can learn eventually learn to feel comfortable around people I like and can trust myself to keep myself safe when with them.   I am participating in more activities, without my safe person.

THEN:  I was afraid of saying and doing stupid, silly, or irrelevant things.

NOW:  I still do, but it is okay, because everyone else does too, and it’s stronger to be able to laugh at yourself when you do it than to pretend to be perfect.   Nobody’s perfect. In fact, everyone is far from perfect, and that’s what makes life fun.   Besides, I think people like people better when they recognize you are vulnerable and not always “perfect.”

THEN:  I couldn’t distinguish between my rational and irrational thoughts.   I strongly felt my irrational thoughts were true.

NOW:  I am slowly learning to identify my irrational thoughts and recognize that they are never true.   Even if my thought of “so-and-so doesn’t like me” were true, it wouldn’t make an ounce of difference because then they are probably not someone I would want to get to know anyway.  It matters more that I like me, and it matters most what I think of myself.