Where are you with your self-talk? How do you talk to yourself? I will bet that you wouldn’t say half of what you say to yourself to someone you love, and I bet you wouldn’t say the other half to a stranger with whom you would act polite. Am I right? Do you call yourself a lot of names? I sure do.
Part of being brave is learning how to observe your self-talk. But I think we can take it further. I think we should ambush the evil bastard who lives in our head and let him or her have it.
ATTACK YOUR SELF-TALK
Let me give you an example. Right now, I’m working on my fitness and my health. I’ve done this on and off for years. This time, it’s different. I’m listening really closely to what I say in all kinds of situations. For instance, I went to the movies by myself the other day. Walking in, you’re hit with that huge wafting wave of popcorn goodness smell.
Inside, my voice said, “Why not have some? Who’s going to know?”
In the past, that was good enough. I’d go for it. This time, I said the following, “You know what, jerkbag? I’m in the middle of something important. That popcorn smells good, but it’s covered in yellow oil. And what do I need with a bucket full of oil and grain?” And then, out of nowhere, this righteous voice threw in its two cents:
“You think I’m going to have popcorn right now? No way. In fact, I’m going to exercise again after the movie. And in a few months, I’ll be two or three waist sizes smaller, and I’m going to feel like a king, because that’s what I am. You’re trying to sabotage me to make me feel better when the ‘inevitable’ happens. But neither of us believe that.”
And just like that, I realized a few things:
- I wasn’t hungry.
- I was actually quite full from lunch.
- I felt like a king from just taking on my inner critic.
I’ll take it.
BRAVE NOW: TACKLE THAT INNER CRITIC
What I did is completely replicable by you. Here’s the recipe:
- Listen for your Inner Critic’s voice. It’ll be easy. It’s the negative one.
- Spend a week (or 3 days minimum) just observing what it says. (Not what you say – what this voice that thinks it’s helping you says.)
- Start recognizing how your body reacts to what you say to yourself. Your body.
- Start thinking of the opposite of what you’re telling yourself. If it helps, write it down on a card.
- Write down the bigger vision you’re chasing. It’s hard for that voice to work if you’ve got something bigger to listen to.
Now, over the next handful of days, practice the following. Every time that self-talk starts in on you, cut it off in your head. Say something to the tune of, “Yeah yeah yeah. I’ve heard that. Thanks. Actually, here’s what’s real.” From here, accept and acknowledge where you are. If you’ve got cider donut crumbs all around your mouth or if you haven’t blogged and it’s 11 hours later or you forgot to send in your expense report, or whatever it is you didn’t quite nail, accept that you’re right exactly where you are.
And then? Talk about your larger vision (in your head, if you’ve got company). Talk about where you’re headed. Acknowledge your efforts in that direction. Make NO excuses. Just move forward. Pay extra attention to how your body feels through all of this. Pay attention to the chemicals that are sneaking around inside you because in this case, you’re influencing them.
Need some extra help? Smile. Smile super huge, even if you don’t feel it. There’s something in a giant smile that releases a small blast of endorphins and I think some other neato chemical. Both are helpful when you’re stuck in this moment.
Garnish this with a new phrase to repeat frequently: “it’s all good.” I stole it from the great kirtan singer, Girish. Listen to his song here (that pops you right to an MP3 file, or you can watch a tiny clip of it live on YouTube) What do I mean? Simply, “it’s all good.” Even if you’re upset, start there and ask yourself just how bad it is. Sometimes, it’ll be bad. LOTS of times? The things that bum us out? They’re not so huge. And if you start at “it’s all good,” you’ll get back to okay faster.
The more you do this kind of work consecutively, the better everything gets. It takes some practice. Some times, your boat will be swamped. The voice will win. But don’t let it win for all that long. Shrug it off. Claim your vision. You are the king or the queen of what comes next, not that voice. That voice only knows the past, and even then, it’s a sketchy and half-assed version of the real story, isn’t it?
Bravery ensues. I promise.