Are you aware of what you are saying to yourself when you don’t feel well?
Does an internal voice force you to go to work or to that party because it says you aren’t that sick?
What do you say to yourself when you make a mistake at work?
Is there a voice that states you were stupid for not catching that error? Does that same voice taunt you for days later?
As we have completed the first full week of January do you find a voice already criticizing you about not exercising enough, saving more or being more available to your friends?
As I met a client for the first time this week, she apologized to me for her handwriting. “It’s horrible and I know you can’t read it.” In reality, I found she had beautiful handwriting and I could easily read it. I told her as much and she seemed surprised.
Everyone has an internal monologue on a daily basis (my client tells herself she has horrible handwriting). Sadly, many of us are not aware of the statements we are saying to ourselves. Our personal self care begins with the daily dialogue we say to ourselves.
In last week’s Self Care Saturday, I asked if you are as nice to yourself as you are to your friends.
I have found that we internally say things about our own behavior, appearance and expectations that we would never say to those that we love.
It is sad that there is often a struggle to show ourselves the love that we show to each other. Many times, individuals feel they are not worthy of the same compassion provided to others. Many times, individuals are not even aware of the statements they are saying.
Are you aware of what you are saying to yourself? Is the statement valid? What is the proof behind it? Where did the statement originally come from?
I would like to use the following story as an example.
As a young child, I had several health problems and was often absent from school. I vividly remember my second grade teacher stating (in front of me) that she didn’t believe I was as sick as I stated and Mom should make me come to school. I believe my Mom was shocked and I suddenly felt that no one believed me (for the record, my parents never made me go to school – I liked school and didn’t like missing).What happened to me after this incident is that I did start making myself go to school. I went when I didn’t feel good, struggled through headaches and even competed in a high school competition with a severely sprained ankle (it was double the size) because it was the state finals and I couldn’t let the team down. (This was another time when a parent criticized me for sitting out practices and saying I was going to impact the team)
This mentality continued as I went to college and started my professional career. I went to classes with a severe bout of what was likely my early problems with gluten issues (running to the bathroom often). My first professional job found me with a severe ear infection three months after starting and a full month of speaking engagements. I wouldn’t allow myself to take a sick day because I was new and feared I wouldn’t be believed.
Over the years, I have had physicians of all specialities state my pain tolerance is extremely high. I’m not sure if it has always been this way or if I have developed it over the years. Although I have become better at listening to my body and what it needs, I continue to battle that voice that states I’m not that sick.
Although the voice I have listened to over the years has been my own, it did not originate with me.
That voice came from a teacher who had no idea the power of her words. Those words of thinking I was not sick became “I will show you” Sadly, having this mentality also impacted my health and I often delayed going to the doctor because I was “tough”.
As for my client mentioned above, I am not sure why she felt that her handwriting was horrible. Perhaps someone had told her this at one time. What I do know is somewhere along the way she developed this irrational statement.
What are the voices that you hear on a daily basis saying to you? What has become commonplace mantras that you are not even aware of?
Today, I ask you to spend a little time listening to your inner dialogue. When you find that negative thought or criticism, ask yourself where it originated from. Is there proof that it is legitimate (I bet there isn’t).
Show some compassion and love to yourself. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, you should not say it to yourself?
Self Care Saturday is a weekly series that discuss tips and offer suggestions for practicing self care and compassion on a daily basis.