A couple of weeks ago, my husband walked in to my bathroom to find me sitting on the floor, head resting on my knees, sobbing uncontrollably. Though his first impulse was probably to hightail it out of there, luckily I have the best hubbers EVA, so instead, he sat down next to me and cautiously asked if I was okay. My answer…”NO, I’m NOT okay…I’m fucking awful! Just awful!” So there…glad that you asked? As I started to list off all of the reasons I was doing so terribly, I began to come to the realization that all of the rage that I was feeling inwardly, I had been projecting outward to him and my kids for the past couple of weeks. This, of course, just made me sob harder and feel worse because now, not only was I feeling awful, but I was also an asshole because I had been treating others awfully. Geesh. No pressure. You know what, though? The realization was SO freeing, because it allowed me to take a big, hard, necessary look at myself.
All of us are guilty of this at one point or another. When we are feeling any type of disdain towards ourselves, we project it out onto those closest to us. For example, think of a time where you felt guilty or angry at the way you had talked to your kids. Next thing you know, you’re tearing into your spouse about the way that they are talking to the kids or over-disciplining or looking at them funny. If you don’t have kids, think of a time where you were at work feeling underappreciated. Suddenly you see a co-worker getting praised and you unconsciously start recognizing all of the things that co-worker has done wrong in the past few weeks. I even made cupcakes for the manager’s birthday party last week…she didn’t bring shit, he can’t even remember to put the toilet seat lid down…eww…but they seem to think he’s so freaking smart, she’s such a suck-up, etc. Maybe you don’t feel like you are making enough money and coincidentally you suddenly feel the need to lash out at your brother/sister/spouse/parent/friend for the way they are handling (or not handling) their finances. You begin to judge what’s happening in other peoples lives, rather than peek under the hood and find the source of the discomfort within yourself. Pretty shitty, right? Yeah, I felt that way too.
As I melted down in my bathroom that day, I was flooded by the reality that I had been a real bitch the past couple of weeks. I let everything out…all of the ways that I was angry, disappointed, aggravated, annoyed and disgusted with MYSELF, and each release allowed me to see how this feeling was being reflected out to those around me. Hubbers would come home and tell me something positive that had happened in his day and I would respond by completely invalidating him in one way or another, simply because I didn’t feel positive myself. My kids would be laughing and playing and being silly and I would get aggravated at how loud they were being, because I didn’t feel joyful. All of this happiness was completely accessible to me, but I had allowed my own inner thoughts to essentially create a prison that kept me from enjoying it.
Now, it should be said that I am naturally a person that has big expectations of myself, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with setting big goals. What I realized through this purge, however, was that I was putting up all of these big expectations without having any compassion for myself or acknowledgement that I am human. Then, when I didn’t make a deadline or get the result that I was so attached to getting, I was feeling like a failure and thus began my old pal, Inner Critic, chattering away and reminding me of all of the ways I wasn’t good enough. Man, when that voice gets started, she just doesn’t SHUT THE FUCK UP! If we choose to listen to that voice, we can end up on a serious downward spiral, that only we have the power to stop.
Give yourself one day to really pay attention to the voice in your head. What does it say to you? Does it compliment you in that pretty dress or tell you that you look like a fat slob? Does it pat you on the back for your witty remark or does it insist that you shouldn’t have made that stupid comment because nobody thought it was funny? Does it cheer you on as you hit obstacles and keep moving towards your goal, or does it use these obstacles to discourage you by reminding you that you should have played it safe or that you should quit while you’re ahead? A good way to gauge the volume of your Inner Critic is to really start to listen to it. If the things this voice is saying to you are things you couldn’t imagine saying to somebody that you love, chances are that you shouldn’t be saying them to yourself. The more awareness you bring to this voice, the more opportunities that you have to redirect those thoughts to a more compassionate voice within you.
Don’t be like me…don’t vomit your emotions onto your husband through a two-hour barrage of tears because your Inner Critic got so loud that you couldn’t shut it up! Beat your Inner Critic to the punch. Seek them out before they seek you out. Pay attention to the thoughts in your head and demand compassion from yourself, way more than you demand perfection. What I have found through this entire process, and the reason I’m sharing it with you, is that I am lighter, happier, freer and filled with gratitude at the amazing things in my life. I know for a fact that I will never let my Inner Critic get that loud again because I love myself and I love the people around me and I love that they love me too! That’s a whole lotta love. You should get on this love-train. It’s a fun place to be!
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