OK, I’m going to tell it to you straight. The biggest impediment to achieving what’s most important to you is between your ears.
The self-talk that we give ourselves is a running dialogue that is the most significant influence with regards to what we accomplish, and ALSO our entire quality of life.
I used to give myself constant messages of fear and “not enough.” I remember being an actress and starring on an NBC sitcom in my 20s, and even then I was always in fear about whether I was good enough, whether they were regretful they hired me, and when the other shoe was going to drop and I would be released from my contract.
What kind of a way was that to live when I was doing something many people would die for?
But no amount of externals can override what we tell ourselves internally. It’s a fact. Even if you change your circumstances (new job, new mate, etc.) your mind and the way it operates is still right there.
And how do you suppose you show up in life when your running dialogue is “you’re not (good, smart, worthy) enough, you’re not loveable, you’re behind in what you’re accomplishing, you never get things right, you’re going to be ‘found out’ and rejected,” etc. etc.?
I’ll tell you. You show up on shaky ground. You show up trying to pull off a persona that other people will approve of – convinced the real you will lead to disaster. You show up insecure, riddled with fear, and giving your power away to everyone else to decide if you’re worthy.
UGH. It’s painful just to type that because I remember that phase of my life so viscerally. (Deep breath…).
So what’s the answer? Well, let me warn you first that it takes practice. You didn’t learn to be so self-critical overnight, and rewiring that takes a commitment. But it will absolutely change your life – I know it did mine.
The solution, of course, is to develop self-compassion. To cultivate a loving inner voice to be your ally when you need to feel uncomfortable feelings (sadness, regret, fear) so that those can pass through you., To develop a fierce inner advocate when you need to speak your truth and take risks.
The easiest way to start is to think of someone dearly whom you love more than you can put into words (a child in your life is very effective). Imagine this child grown up and coming to you with the same messages “I really screwed up today, I’m so angry at myself, maybe I’m just not cut out for this (their dream), now people are going to think (fill in the blank).”
I KNOW without a doubt that you would give them messages of soothing. You’d remind them the truth of who they are. You’d be present for their disappointment, but with unconditional love. And you’d tell them that those thoughts are not true – they can and will achieve what they want. They’re beautiful, inside and out. They’re immensely capable. You’d prize their courage and tenacity.
Now the thing you have to practice is saying these messages to yourself – because that’s what you deserve, too (even ask yourself what you’d say to ____ in the same situation). You can imagine these messages of unbounded support for yourself as coming from a deep inner wisdom or what you might call your “higher self.” However you conceptualize it is fine.
At first, expect the negative voices to come up, because that’s what you’re used to. But as soon as you notice, ask yourself “what would love say?” as I’ve described above. The more and more you practice, the shorter the time will become between the negative voice and replacing it. Eventually, the negative voice will actually arise fairly rarely in the first place, and the messages of self-love and support will be your default!
Commit to trying this the very next time you’re in self-shaming and fear. (Even committing to this new practice is already an act of self-support). And then really do it. I mean really do it as if your life depended on it.
Because it actually does.