Sometimes those early childhood parental voices come crashing into my mind like stormy waves pounding the beach.....and like a little pebble or grain of sand I get ground down just a little bit more as I get tossed and turned by these powerful crashing waves (thoughts)....
I'm not good enough
I'm not worthy
I'm not loveable
I have to be perfect
Yadda.....yadda......yadda!! Sound familiar? And on and on they go until I wish I could just SHUT THEM UP!!!!!!!....that voice in my head (my own!) that is. But there's no instant turn off button like there is on the radio or CD player. Bummer!
My inner critic (thanks Mum & Dad by the way....love you and all, but hey did you have to be so grumpy, miserable, and down on everything - stamper outers of my fragile self esteem? Okay rant over with!). It's been pretty relentless just lately and its been hard to quieten it down enough to even find a silent gap between the words to rest in.
That's when I get to work really hard at practicing what I preach (we teach best what we most need to learn after all!).........and its not as easy to walk the talk as to talk the talk, but I know there's an authenticity to what others have to share with us if we sense they've walked the path......plummeted the depths and crawled out of the pit of despair to join the world of the living....the thriving....the joyous again. So if I can't be bothered to do it for myself, then I owe it to those clients who put their faith and trust in me to walk my talk.......
So the walk begins..... This is what I've been doing (or being!) to shift the blues.......
Bring in the observer.....the witness.......even if to begin with all I'm witnessing is more inner turmoil, frustration and beratings! Watching my thoughts on my daily walks helps me at least see just how caught up I've been in buying into my thoughts as real lately! I use the exercise of focusing on just breathing as I walk......or focusing on the trees, the sounds of the birds.....doesn't matter if at first all it does is make me even more aware of how relentless the mind chatter is.....the important thing is I am interrupting the mind chatter......lessening the focus on it. depersonalizing it a tad.
But the linchpin is to find compassion and understanding and empathy for myself despite having this relentless harsh inner judge......to ask where it came from in the first place.......
Key is ALWAYS to love that old f*cker! YUP......works every time.......cos the truth is that inner critic no matter how 'right' it is, no matter how justified, how ugly, nasty, horrid, offensive, repulsive, abusive it is, the truth is, it needs our love more than anything. Underneath the ferocious certainty it is talking the truth is the DEEPER TRUTH that it is crying out for our love, it too needs to be loved?
I remember being in the bank line up one day and in comes a harassed Mom with her daughter about 6 years old I'd say, and cute as a button......what played out next could have come right from the pages of my childhood....and on the surface it all looked innocent enough......but what I saw was the actual creation in the moment of an inner critic for life! Mom in her frustration began nit picking this little girl and emptied all her own misery directly into this beautiful innocent child who went from curiously exploring her environment to being told off for everything she was doing......"come here, stand still, don't do that....I told you NOT to do that" with a few arm pulls throw in for good measure. It was as if even the little girls existence was annoying and wrong to her Mom that morning......
I watched her become more and more expressionless, her head bowing, her fingers going to her mouth and this glazed over look in her eyes as her joy left her as she stood obediently next to her grumpy Mom as good girls do and I wept inside.
I wanted to go over to the little girl and tell her never ever to let anyone tell you you are anything less than beautiful.....that you are so lovable......and don't go letting grumpy adults dump their crap onto you!
And then it hit me........if I can defend this little girl's right to high self esteem and love and compassion why can't I defend this in me!? Surely its exactly the same going in internally within me when I start beating up on myself???
What that encounter did for me was show me how I do this very same thing to my own inner child.....I get so down on her....I beat her up so badly sometimes no wonder she doesn't trust me......no wonder she hides away in those dark corners avoiding more verbal beatings.
And the hardest part of that encounter was to find love and compassion in my heart for this little girls Mom......and in all honesty I had to search hard.... But what cracked it was to try and see the little girl in her because truth her unhappiness had to come from somewhere too......she most likely had her own internal parental voice coming down hard on her internally that day too.
The cycle repeats.....until we are WILLING to stop it, to even just be willing to bring in some compassion for the unkindness we know we are metting out on ourselves.....sometimes this is enough to allow a crumbling into self compassion to take place.
Sometimes what cracks me into that place of self compassion is to read a story about an animal being rescued from abuse, to watch a movie like Dead Poets Society, or my new favourite The Intouchables....a story where love wins over adversity, where gentleness wins over harshness. Where non judgment bring healing.
Or....you can blast this one out of the water with speed by doing an exercise that requires a bit of courage and stretching outside our comfort zones....but it works!
Next time you find yourself in that beat yourself up place take a risk and reach out to 20 people you know and ask them to list your 3 best qualities......
That'll do it!
I just did this exercise as part of Marie Forleo's Business School I just began this week and it was amazing....my inbox was flooded with emails with all these wonderful people listing my best qualities and with it I FELT THEIR LOVE and APPRECIATION for me. When you can't give it to yourself ask someone else to do it for you!!! They aren't attached to your story of unworthiness....they can see you with more objectivity than you can and they will reflect back to you the truth of who you REALLY ARE!!!!!
It's magic! And it feels risky....but heck, there's nothing to loose......except that inner critic for a while I guess ;)
PS. what do my friends see as my top quality? Compassion!! The very thing I am good at giving out to others yet not so hot on giving to myself when I need it the most. Ironic eh? Now THAT was a good lesson to learn.....we give best what we most need to give to ourselves maybe?
How I love this life of self discovery......new version of me everyday!