We all have moments of self-doubt.
We all have points in our lives (or our days, our hours, heck this moment right now) where we wonder: “Am I doing this right? Or am I screwing up again? Jeez, I’ve never been the best/fastest/brightest/prettiest/something.”
Because somewhere in our head is THAT VOICE, that hidden person, that mantra we never asked for but it comes along anyhow, the stowaway in our brain that shows up now and again to remind us that we’re not good enough.
“See? This is why you SUCK.”
“You’ve always been mediocre.”
“Everyone is better than you.”
And then it goes away in happy times, waiting for the next summons to the stage, waiting for Fear to whisper to it, “Now …. speak to them now. They’re so not ready.”
But here’s the truth: That voice is garbage and you know it.
Somewhere down deep you know that voice is just a big raving block of bullshit.
But many of us entertain that voice to a degree that we never would if it was a real person. We talk to ourselves worse than we would let anybody else talk to us.
Why? That answer is unique to you.
What Happened to You?
I don’t know what happened to you but I know that you have company. See, if you’re past the age of a lunchbox, you’ve probably had some kind of unpleasant experiences and/or trauma that affected your brain in a major way. And your reordered brain keeps handling information in the way it’s now used to, and maybe it keeps bringing stuff up.
This is life. Bad shit happens and then it happens again and we keep adjusting to it. If we’re lucky (and we do the work) less bad shit happens and life improves. (It’s not all doom and gloom, people!)
What Are You Going to Do Now?
What I want you to think about today is not what happened to you (you’ve probably thought about that enough) … but what you’re going to do or say the next time that the crappy voice shows up in your head and starts in on you.
What are you going to say back when that voice says you’re not good enough, strong enough, thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough and you’re not Oprah? (Damn it. I really wanted to be Oprah.)
I used to think that I could kill that voice. That I could:
pummel it with my words and spirit
Outshout the shouter. Terrify the voice that terrified me. Why not, right? And I figured I could beat the shit out of that voice with a million pull-ups or a hundred thousand squats or an ever-lovin’ parade of deadlifts.
I’d show that voice how tough I really was.
That Plan Only Worked for a Little Bit
While exercise seemed to banish the voice for a while, it always came back. And the battle became more exhausting each time. It turns out that there weren’t enough workouts in the world to keep the voice from coming back.
So, one day, I stopped. I gave up fighting the voice.
When she came knocking on my door one day, I did something I never expected – I opened the door and let her in. I stopped trying to drown out the voice and I did a different kind of work. I thought long and hard about:
why that voice was there
who she was
and who I was back in the time when she came to be
It turns out that this voice wasn’t my enemy. She wasn’t there because she hated me. The truth was quite different. My inner voice that tried to stop me from trying, from daring, from jumping headlong into the adventurous life I dreamed of living?
She loved me.
That voice came from a deep well of love inside me that wanted to save me, protect me, and keep me unscarred. That voice was a scared, little girl who needed years ago to be told that everything was going to be all right — that she could be who she was and people would still love her.
I needed to give that voice what I didn’t get way back. It sounds stupid but I gave her love and I hugged her … and she disappeared.
And here’s the really weird thing: she never came back.
What I Learned: You Don’t Have to Fight That Voice
Now I don’t know if this will work for you. And maybe you need a pro, a therapist, someone to lead you through this part of the path in the woods. If so, get one. There’s no shame in asking for the help you need.
But if you’re just having a rough day and you’re tired of fighting the voice that says you suck, maybe it’s time to try a new tactic.
Maybe instead of battling that force that says you suck, you could try understanding it. Look for why that voice is there, where it came from, and do the work.
Dig deep and understand what happened to you then and what’s happening to you now.
Find gratitude for how that voice served you all these years
Look for how it protected you and kept you safe when you needed it
Then … hug it … and let it go. See what happens.
Because the truth is that all of our battles do not have to be battles.
We choose what comes next by our posture in this very moment.
What’s your posture right now?
And how could life change if you changed how you’re greeting life?
Unclench your fists. Open your heart. Take a deep breath. And look.
I still think you’re better than that voice. Start living like you are.
FYI: I’ll be speaking (virtually) on mindset on Sept 26th at the Feisty Menopause Summit. This three-day summit is geared towards performance-minded women who want “the information you need for optimal health and performance during the menopause transition and beyond–along with a feisty community to go along with it.” You can save $20 on your registration by using this special link. Whatever your age, there’s important information to be learned and shared here!