When was the last time you complimented yourself?
If you are like most of us, it doesn’t happen very often. But it should. Our self-talk can be the most powerful conversation we have every day. And I’ll bet that yours is more negative than positive.
Sit quietly for a minute. Think of nothing. My guess is that after a few seconds, you hear that inner voice telling you what you should be doing. A litany of chores you’ve not completed. The last disagreement you had with your spouse. The project you haven’t finished at work. Sometimes there seem to be so many voices demanding your attention! I refer to that as my monkey brain. (How to teach Your Monkey Brain to Be Quiet.)
Mr. Inner Critic
When I am writing, as I am at this moment, I have an Inner Critic who makes the task very difficult and much longer than I always anticipate. He (and I do think of it as a male persona. That would keep an analyst going for quite awhile) will stop me every few words when I am not diligent. He will demand that I correct my punctuation now, find a different word now, do not trust spell check now, discard an entire train of thought immediately without giving me a good reason.
For many years, I tried to get this guy to stay on the side lines while I at least hammered out a first draft. But I was never successful. I let him dominate my process and I stopped writing for a long, long time. I convinced myself that if writing was such a constant struggle, then it was not the profession for me.
It took several years of journaling, pen in hand, to learn that I CAN ignore Mr. Inner Critic. There is a time for him to come forward and there is a time for him to be gagged and put in the back of my brain.
Miss Writing Coach
I have been training Miss Inner Writing Coach. Naturally, she is feminine. She nods her head as I work through a brain dump and pushes me to get it out of my head and on to the paper. Boy, a lot of garbage can flow from my brain through a pen! And it flows much faster through my fingers to the keyboard. But I’ve learned that there is some good stuff coming out of there, too.
Your thoughts are not YOU.
It has taken several years to learn to trust Miss Writing Coach. We have developed a symbiotic relationship. As we grow, Mr. Inner Critic has less and less influence on me. I give myself an “Atta Girl”, a smug grin or actually read a section aloud. By the time I hit the PUBLISH button on my blog site, I am feeling satisfied with myself and some days quite pleased!
Inner Eating Coach
I have a friend who made a commitment to herself to lose A LOT of weight. She did it slowly, over more than a year. When she made too many wrong food choices in a day or a week, she forgave herself. She had an Inner Eating Coach who kept her responsible for her decisions but didn’t berate her. She was so proud when she dropped a size in her jeans and she celebrated!
Now she is doing the hard work of maintaining that weight loss. Something that she has not been able to do in the past. But she quieted that Inner Critic who sabotaged her years ago and made friends with her Inner Eating Coach. She is living her change.
Develop New Voices
Your thoughts are not YOU. You do not have to obey those thoughts. You can develop new voices.
When you believe those negative thoughts and inner voices, you identify with them. You become certain that:
- I cannot write,
- I am meant to be fat,
- I am not qualified for the promotion,
- I do not deserve to be loved.
Our brains are the most complex multi-processing machines on earth! They interface with our eyes, ears, nose and all those nerve endings. Many of their functions seem automatic and do not require thought. BUT the brain is always learning and forming new connections. The default setting is for negative thoughts, because it was the negative thoughts that saved us from the Tiger in our earliest days. Danger! Run!
There are not many tigers around to threaten us today. We tend to be our own greatest threat. You will always think. There will always be those inner voices. And you can teach them to be helpful. That wonderful brain has SO MUCH MORE CAPACITY TO LEARN!
Compliment it every day, many times a day.