Why do I talk about the inner-critic so much?
This is the thing that gets in the way of us showing up fully, of having those tough conversations that allow us to get what we want and to stand up for ourselves. This is the voice that asks us “What will people think” that drives us to perfectionism, people pleasing, and trying to control everything. This is the voice that makes us feel like shit so that we lash out and blame.
And a lot of times this is the voice of shame. Old childhood stuff that sticks with us and haunts us. So when we don’t know this is happening, it rules our life and nothing changes. That’s why I’m hellbent on teaching you all to manage that voice.
Truth: I still have an inner-mean girl. It’s the voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough, I’m not doing it right, I am most definitely falling short, and asks, “Who do you think you are?” when I go after what I want.
Over the years I’ve worked and worked on her. I’ve embraced the little girl in her that is hurting and afriad. I’ve hated her, I’ve had compassion for her (btw- having compassion for her feels waaay better). I’ve listened to her, I’ve pushed her aside. And I’ve noticed over the years she gets bent out of shape for different things, depending on what season of life I’m in. And of course, over the last few years, she’s been all up in my face about a very important role in my life: MOTHERHOOD.
And maybe your inner mean girl gets chatty around your body, your work, your relationships, your role as a daughter, friend, whatever. But, for the sake of this post, I’ll be giving you the example of motherhood.
My negative self-talk around it looks like this: I work too much. I should slow down and take time off. On the other hand, I could work more to make more money to buy them more things. I don’t read to them enough. I’m not organized enough. I should not work at all so I can homeschool them. They should go to private school. I’m not advocating enough for special needs son. I’m not teaching them enough about values. My son should know how to tie his shoes by now, I mean WHAT KIND OF MOTHER AM I THAT MY 7 YEAR OLD CAN’T TIE HIS SHOES YET?
I’m too impatient. I’m a pushover. I should make them make their beds every day. I should feed them better foods. They should be in science camp, I can’t believe I haven’t done that yet. OMG I could go on all day with this list.
And I know VERY WELL that I am not alone here. I know that even if your area today isn’t motherhood, it certainly is another area where this inner mean girl gets feisty. And when it comes down to it you have two choices on how to handle her:
Choice A. Let her rule you and buy into what she's telling you, thus feeling like crap. Or
Choice B. Learn how to handle her and manage her.
Notice one of the choices is NOT “get rid of her and stop the chatter”. (Btw- anyone that is selling this is feeding you bullshit. No one is completely void of some negative self-talk.) We can’t eradicate it, but we can manage it. There are lots of tools to be able to have the self-talk management become easy, but I’m going to simplify it into two steps for you here:
Step 1: Figure out when your negative self-talk happens and what it is. It’s much easier to learn to manage if you can catch it in its tracks. Being proactive helps tremendously.
Step 2: Once you realize you’re in a shit-storm-a-palooza of inner mean girl talk, take a step back and tell yourself one or all of the following:
Wow, that drama in my head just happened.
For the love of Jesus on a bicycle I’m doing the best I can.
Okay, let’s start those thoughts over because those other ones suck.
And why am I not telling you to change your thoughts into positive and happy ones? Um, because it’s hard? Guess what sisters– if I tell you to take the way you’ve been thinking for decades, and turn it upside-down and think OPPOSITE, more positive, cheery thoughts, I can almost guarantee it won’t work. You’ll feel like shit because it didn’t work and beat yourself up for it not working. And then you’d probably be mad at me.
When I find myself all sad-clown face about not being an awesome, perfect mom and realize I’ve spent the last ten minutes stressing out about my kid’s future and blaming myself for their lack of shoe tying awards, all I do is stop and tell myself I’m doing my best.
And sometimes I stop and start over many times in one day if I’m feeling especially vulnerable and afraid.
And here’s a bonus, a Step 3: Call a friend. I wrote about this a few weeks ago and what’s important here is that you’re calling the right person to tell them the right story at the right time. If you’re spiraling down, down, down, make sure you talk to someone who will give you what you need in that moment. You're not alone in having moments of feeling not enough and that you're falling short. You don't have to go at it alone.
And if you’d like even more support here, I’m hosting a free workshop where I’m teaching my 3 most effective ways to manage your inner mean girl. Click here or the image below to sign up. I’m going into more depth and giving you practical tools you can apply in your life now to help handle your negative self-talk!
Right click to download the .mp3.