By Nadine Araksi, Toronto-based Story Coach
“Oh, I’m a hot mess!”
Are you, though?
Are you ACTUALLY any of the things you (jokingly) say about yourself?
I was texting to make plans with someone this week and caught myself about to apologize for my lack of availability by replying, “The next few weekends are messy.” Then I paused. I was so used to referring to myself as a hot mess, but was it true?
We all pick up stories about ourselves along the road of life, and we often internalize them without looking at them with a critical lens. We adopt these stories as fact without questioning—a strategic thing our brains have done through evolution to conserve energy (from back when we lived in hunter-gatherer societies and weren’t sure when we might have a protein-rich meal again).
Perhaps, like me, you picked up the habit of being funny to beat others to the punchline. As though making others laugh at your self-deprecation would protect you from being rejected or hurt. Maybe it was a way to embrace the seemingly less loveable parts of yourself by turning them into a joke and making your “flaws” a part of a fun personality. But what you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while. Was saying I was a “hot mess” perpetuating a messy lifestyle? And was that aligned with who I want to be at my best?
If you refer to yourself as a “hot mess” your life will become messy
What we repeat becomes who we are and creates our reality.
Or another way to look at it is, “Be careful what you practice. You’re going to get really good at it.”
Our lives reflect what we say, think and do on repeat. When we take 100% responsibility for our results, we might be uncomfortable with the realization that our words and actions (the only two things in life we actually have control over) hold so much power.
I took a moment to use my Kickstartology tools to assess my thought of “messy weekends” and realized what I was referring to as messy was a bunch of back-to-back summer events. I had chosen these activities. I planned to have fun. Would there be chaos? Inevitably. But does navigating chaotic fun make me messy? And if so, why does that matter?
How to stop “hot mess thinking”: Choosing thoughts with intention
If we are what we repeat, then it stands that we can recreate who we are with intention. As a writer/editor by trade, the careful choice of a word has often helped completely shift how an experience comes across. The same goes in life. But how do you shift yourself away from the habit of belittling yourself, jokingly or not?
With support, empathy, and repetition—all core tenets of our Alignment Coaching Program. The Alignment Framework teaches you the tools to “Catch and Redirect” unhelpful thoughts and habits. And it’s not about saying affirmations in the mirror (although I have used this technique occasionally). The simple daily reflection and evaluation homework pages we offer our clients helps them practice rewriting thoughts to build their self-image until they are an embodiment of those words. That version of themselves is no longer a stretch, it’s just who they are now. (I sometimes joke that it’s like spell-casting, haha.)
I realized that “messy” to me means I am prioritizing things that are not cleaning my house, making sure my hair is coiffed, or my calendar is perfectly obeyed. Stuff spills out the sides of a full life, and that’s more than OK—for me, it’s a feature, not a bug. “The next few weekends are full of summer fun,” I replied, “But I’m free the third Sunday in September.” Simple, honest and aligned with the person I want to be. I am someone who prioritizes fleeting summer fun and still shows up for herself and others with integrity. (I am currently writing this post on my deck, under my patio lights, to the sound of cicadas and feeling very pleased with myself.)
Want to shine a new light on how you see yourself? If you want to stop self-degradation and start building a life with more joy, ease and purpose, get in touch. We can show you how the Align to Thrive program will help you move from disparaging yourself to building yourself up to a life you love.