Everyday I'm faced with a barrage of negativity.
"You need to lose weight."
This negativity isn't shouted at me, or posted on Facebook, or even written in a letter.
"You think you're funny but you're not."
This negativity is quiet, subversive, and constant.
"Your personality is annoying."
It's "the voice" inside my head that continually bullies me.
"You're a parenting failure."
It's both my worst enemy and my best friend.
"You don't work hard enough."
Without it, I feel a sense of superiority, entitlement, or complacence.
"You aren't good enough."
If "the voice" were gone, I fear I would be stagnant - or worse - going down down a path of false sense of achievement.
"You need to be better."
But with "the voice," I'm never good enough.
Never thin enough.
Never happy enough.
Today is Mental Health Monday.
A day when the fitness community discusses an important facet to our well being - mental health. It's an attempt to remove the stigma. The idea that we're all put-to-gether, perfect human beings - when internally we're all struggling.
My focus today is to talk about that inner voice. The one that both helps and harms at the same time.
Modern times we're faced with so many voices. Those on the phone, on the internet, and of course of our family and friends. We receive so much feedback it's hard to turn it all off and just allow ourselves a moment of rest.
I truly believe (and preach) that feedback is always a good thing. But if you're constantly berated with it, one of two things happen - 1) you stop listening or 2) you only hear the negative.
I give/get a lot of feedback in my job. And 9 times out of 10 it's given in a constructive and polite way and I receive, as such. Usually as an opportunity to learn.
We hardly give ourselves feedback in such a manner.
We should say: "When you ate those chocolates, you weren't really thinking about the consequences, as such you had a sugar high that sent your blood sugar tumbling and lessened your chances of losing weight this week. Next time perhaps only have one piece, or maybe avoid the break room all together, which should result in you feeling better about yourself."
When we really say: YOU FAT ASS WHYD YOU EAT ALL THOSE CHOCOLATES UGH YOU CANT DO ANYTHING RIGHT FINE JUST EAT MORE CHOCOLATES CAUSE AT THIS POINT NO FUCKS GIVEN IVE ALREADY MESSED UP LIKE I MESS UP EVERYTHING MIGHT AS WELL ENJOY IT
Can you imagine if someone else said that to you? Would you listen?
Your challenge for this MHM is to rephrase "the voice." Not silence it. But turn it into a more constructive criticism. Here's a great tool that will help you:
- Start with: "When...."
"When it was time to get up for your workout..."
- Continue with: "You said/did..."
"You turned off the alarm and slept in instead."
- Then think: "That might not be effective because..."
"That might not be effective because you won't have time after work cause you have other obligations."
- Next think: "What you might have said/done..."
"What you might have done is gone to bed earlier or set out your workout clothes or had a secondary alarm (or even friend to call you)..."
- And finish with: "This might have resulted in..."
"This might have resulted in you getting up and completing the workout, feeling accomplished and on track."Can you imagine if someone else said that to you? Would you listen?
It seems simple. It seems silly. But it works.
Rephrase that voice (don't silence it!) into something that you can work with. Sometimes it may be that "the voice" will just reassure you "This resulted in you binge watching House of Cards all day and this was effective cause you needed the break!" But be honest with yourself.
And most of all - be kind to yourself.
If you wouldn't allow someone else to talk to you that way... why are you letting yourself?