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Anticipation filled the room as we congregated around the large TV in the den to watch video clips from our previous sleepover at the church, which had raised money for hungry children in Africa. Laughter exploded within minutes as we watched Ed, the comedian in our youth group, turn on his charm for the camera with funny faces and hand gestures, and then as pretty, petite Ellen smiled modestly, quickly covering her face with her hands. As the youth director’s video camera slowly moved in my direction, my laughter abruptly faded. For the first time, I could see myself. I saw clearly my feminine mannerisms and facial expressions, which were more pronounced during my unrestrained, boisterous laugh. I was horrified! From that night on, I kept an inner vow that I would work hard to wipe out every socially unacceptable trait. I started with the laughter. As a naturally gifted actor, I learned through constant observation and study how to perfectly play the role that my inner homophobic critic had assigned. The problem with it all: I lost myself in the editing process.

Often rising out of a twisted heap of childhood hurts and painful experiences, our self-editor steps forward to take center stage in our lives. Constructive words to help us grow and move us forward are far from his vocabulary. He prefers negatively driven words and phrases such as, “You’re too fat, you’re too ugly, you’ll never be as talented as your sister, you can’t write; smart, you are not!” Like a voice recorder stuck in play mode, these critical words woven with sarcasm and comparisons relentlessly slash away at the core of who we are. The most detrimental part? We often believe it.

Reprogramming our thinking is the only way to turn off this deprecating voice in our head and silence our self-editor. The challenge for most of us is in the realization that the shutoff switch is directly wired to a life change.

We are a product of our environment, whether we choose to accept it or not. We WILL become like the people and the environs we espouse. If we want healthier thinking, we have to hang out with healthier thinkers. If we want to increase our emotional stability, we have to fill our inner circle with those who are emotionally stable. Health breeds health.

We also attract WHAT WE ARE. If we’ve been struggling with negativity and boundaries for some time, it is very likely that those closest to us are negative and lack boundaries. Quite often, in order to make the needed shift, we have to search for a healthier tribe. What do we look for? We look for others who are WHAT WE WANT TO BECOME.

Realistically, our annoying self-editor might never be completely quelled for some of us; however, by surrounding our self with a healthy and uplifting environment, that paralyzing voice will be muted sufficiently to lose its power over us.

Think Better   Feel Better   Live Better