So there was this lady walking down her drive the other day and she totally bailed. I mean a comedy trip and stumble. She kind of recovered but dropped her bag and her shopping. What an idiot.
‘You’re SUCH an idiot!’ I shouted at her, ‘You always do shit like that. You rush around, not thinking about what you’re doing. No wonder you’re stressed out. You’re like a bumbling idiot.’ I mean. She needed to be told. She’s pathetic. How else will that idiot learn? That idiot was me. See what I did there?
Let’s talk about that voice in our heads. Our inner narrative. I hope yours is lovely to you all the time. Mine is not. Not always. Sometimes she’s a total cow. She sits at the back of my brain watching, waiting, scrutinising. She’s so effing critical! She’s soooo mean. And the things she says I wouldn’t dream of saying to anyone else. As an adult now, I wouldn’t let anyone say them to me without a serious telling off. I mean I would go cry later because confrontation is yucky but… rude!
Let me give you a little background. I grew up fairly middle class in Canada, in a fairly happy home. I was loved, encouraged and cared for. But there was a lot of judgement around food, body image and self worth. So naturally I have a lot of ‘issues’ around food, body image and self-worth. (More on this topic…cause…damn!)
You believe the stories that are told about you, to you. Of course you do. I have a lot of work to do unpicking and unpacking those stories. Those stories that start with ‘You always…’, ‘You never…’, ‘You should…’. Those kinds of stories. And the unpicking and unpacking can be epic work. EPIC. And annoying. And weird. And sometimes scary.And a lot frustrating. Unpicking why we speak to ourselves the way we do. Unpacking the stories we tell ourselves are true but don’t ever question.
So, in the name of vulnerability, here are some of my ‘stories’: I’m lazy, I’m boring, I’m too sensitive, I’m too emotional, I’m frivolous, I rush everything, I jump into things too quickly, I don’t think things through, I’m too big, I’m ugly, I’m disgusting, I don’t have anything important to say, I never see anything through, I’ve led a sheltered life, I’m not as good or know as much as other people, I’m lame. Mean right?
They can pop into my head out of nowhere a million times a day. Some days it is literally the only way I speak to myself and some days are better than others. ‘Mean me’ does seem to be quite in tune with my pal anxiety and the hormone fairies of my cycle but she does tick along there most of the time. Just waiting. Now, some of my ‘stories’ are sometimes true, some of the time. Most of them are not. And the ones that are, are just me being a human. Just part of the glorious imperfection that is me. They certainly do not warrant a full fledged mental attack from ‘mean me’.
Jen Sincero has a brilliant, and quite to the point, quote in her book: You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life.
‘It’s not your fault if you are fucked up. It’s your fault if you stay fucked up.’
Ha! Simple! Her book is simply awesome. M bought it for me at Christmas and I’m now obsessed. I’m sure he’s not regretting it at all as I tell him for the 75th time that he should read it. Now. Read it right now. You should also read it. Seriously…right now.
It is totally eye opening and I understand why he bought it for me. I know one of his biggest frustrations is how I speak to or about myself. He always says to me. ‘Hey, that’s my wife you’re talking about!’ He knows all of me. The good, the bad and the weird. And he loves me anyways. Like completely…I know! I’m starting to wonder what I would do if I started believing all the things about myself that he just knows to be true. I owe it to him to see and actually hear how he sees me. I owe it to Tiny Dictator to set the example of being kind to and having a healthy relationship with myself. I mean…he thinks I’m awesome. He thinks he’s awesome! He IS awesome. I want him to keep feeling that way. That there is simply no room for that voice in our heads to be so negative. Reflective? Yes. Constructively critical? Sure. They are crucial skills in being a good human. But not mean and especially when they are just plain untrue.
I can’t even count the number of times I have heard my friends, co-workers, loved ones says something negative about themselves just all nonchalant like. And I’m over here all like…’Whaaaaat? You’re wonderful and amazing and brave and brilliant and you are raising kids like a boss and you treat people so kindly and you sing like an angel and you are so damn clever and…..’ the list goes on…and on. They say them (and obviously think them) like it’s no big thing to say something mean about yourself . They are truths that they just take for granted to be true. And everyone does it. Well most of us. Of course there are the enlightened souls paving the way already. But, for the rest of us, what is that voice stopping us from doing? Seriously. If you didn’t have these limiting beliefs about yourself…what would you be doing? You wouldn’t believe the things ‘mean me’ said to human me when I was thinking about writing this blog. But I braved her criticisms and did it anyways.
I’m part of a closed Facebook group that is all about developing healthy habits (DEFINITELY more on this in another post because it’s a beautiful thing) and one of the tasks is to ‘Write a letter to yourself from the perspective of someone who adores you. What would they write about you?’ Well, I was all like:
c) I don’t wanna because…cringe
d) Actually I don’t wanna because that is going to be hard and weird and…no
But fine. I’ll do it because the work and the ladies in the group are amazing. And I’ve come to trust them. Now, you don’t have to do an actual letter. I mean, I’m dreading it…like have the actual fear about it. But I think the work is important. So I’m giving you some homework…cause…teacher.
- What are the terrible things you tell yourself?
- Are they true? Like for real? What evidence do you have that proves them right? What evidence do you have that proves them wrong?
- What positive things are true about you? What do you do well? What’s lovely about you? What kind of person are you? Come on…go with it.
If you can’t think of many positive things…you may need to outsource here. What would your loved ones say about you? What would I say about you? I’m happy to write you a love letter of truth bombs. It’ll mean I don’t have to do my own one.
According to Jen, mantras or affirmations can also help. Now I know….CRINGE! But I’m going to give it a go. I have a wee something I’m going to say back to that negative voice in my head when she starts her shit. I’m going to shout it right back at her. I’m going to try drowning her out. If that doesn’t work, I’m going to try letting myself feel it, roll with it and then dissect the heck out of it after the fact. Was that true? If so, does it really matter? Is it helpful? Is it kind? Will it serve a purpose to my life of joy and power? No? Then shut the hell up. If yes…is it really a big deal? Can I give myself a little compassion around it? Can I forgive myself? Can I make it better or can I move on?
Our stories are powerful and important and if they are contributing in a negative way to how we see our beautiful selves…then we HAVE to rewrite them. We have to change our inner stories so we can change our future ones.
So I’m off to start rewriting mine. Starting with a letter to myself as if I love myself unconditionally. As if M and TD are writing it to me. No doubt it’s going to get messy, there may be snot bubbles. But I’m going to be brave and vulnerable and do the work because I wonder what else I could do if I learned to change those stories I never questioned. If they no longer held any power over me. What kind of joy and power could I invite into my life in their place?
Here’s to re-writing our stories so we can fill our lives with truth, compassion, joy and exciting challenges. And to just shut that meanie up!