I have a long-time “friend” who constantly pressures me. At first, she seems to be challenging me to be better, but she quickly turns impatient and hyper-critical. She second-guesses my decisions. She pushes me to do more than is balanced and compares me to some ridiculous ideal that no human can live up to. You might say she has high standards and is relentless in her pursuit of seeing me live up to them, but I’m not so sure.
Sound like someone you know? This chickadee lives in many of us. The part of us that still believes the seduction that the future is better than right now—whether it’s having more success, or being the perfect parent, or being five pounds lighter, etc. The part that believes the photoshopped, facebooked version of everything. The part of us that thinks everyone else has it together but we don’t.
One of the insidious things about this voice is that we can become so used to her presence that we don’t even notice when she’s chirping in our ear and spoiling the day. The first step is just to be aware of how we speak to ourselves. If its unkind, notice it and then pause. Let’s face it, you’d never let anyone talk to someone you care about like this, so why are you letting her talk to you like that? You’d tell this one to shut the $#!@& up. Tell her she is wrong. Tell her that she doesn’t know what she is talking about—because she doesn’t.
If you’ve already tried this, you might agree that completely casting her out creates a certain uneasiness. After all, this voice has been a part of your experience for a long time. You may even believe that you’ll become lazy and complacent without her.
This may be in the form of taking some action that helps you feel better. Or you might do something as simple as redirecting your thoughts from her wounded talk to talk that is unapologetically supportive of you. The real key is a radical commitment to remaining aware of when she arrives on the internal scene and then redirect your actions or attention to more life-giving areas.
It’s not easy work, I can attest to that. And it’s kind of never “done”. But, like snow removal these past few weeks, it’s both repetitive and necessary. And, unlike snow removal, this work pays off in longer-term benefits—namely, in offering us a genuinely nourishing relationship with ourselves that will weather any storm that could ever be thrown our way. This is what I’m working on these days. If you are trying this, post your comment or let me know!