If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all… unless it’s about yourself, and then it’s OK, right?
Isn’t it funny how we can be so honestly and wholly supportive with friends who are struggling, yet when we are struggling ourselves, our inner dialogue is so negative, harsh and judgemental?
How when we slip up, we think it is so obvious and everyone will see us and what a mess we’ve made and think worse of us for it?
Or how we tell ourselves we’re going to completely and irreparably emotionally scar our children because we parent them too strictly, too softly, too hippie free spirity, too helicoptery?
I’ve found this so much, both as a parent and as an adult. If I’m being honest, I still don’t feel like an adult adult, I feel like a fake adult, but I was talking to a someone in their late 50’s a few weeks back, and they said they didn’t feel like an adult adult either, so I think this is probably just how adulting feels.
I only realised recently, after really looking at how I treat and talk to myself, that inner Bunny is an absolute cow to herself. Like, a nasty cow. I think (*think* being the keyword here, tell me if I’m wrong) that having a small amount of self doubt is fairly normal – but a tiny bit of self doubt is quite different to telling yourself that you’re pretty crap when you muck up. I also think that as women, we tend to not want to talk ourselves up too much, in case we sound conceited or arrogant. So where’s the line between being arrogant and being confident? Probably in the same place as the line between being humble and being self-defeating.
I wouldn’t hesitate to tell my partner or my children or my friends or even strangers on the internet that they’re good at something… so why am I so unsure and worried about telling myself I’m good at something – or, heaven forbid, telling anyone else that I’m good at something? And if my partner/children/friends/strangers I meet on the internet admit to messing up or having some kind of self-defined “flaw”, I generally respond in a pretty kind hearted, accepting and forgiving manner – we’re all human, after all, and I believe you should treat others how you want to be treated. But if I mess up… well. “May as well just throw yourself out then, looks like you’re pretty worthless after all”, says inner-cow Bunny. If someone else said that to me, I’d be horrified! I’d be deflated and heartbroken and probably a bit angry – but when it’s coming from the inside… it’s just normal? Does that sound right or fair, that I’m not even treating myself how I want to be treated?
Well, as they say in AA meetings (or so I’ve heard), the first step is admitting you have a problem. And this may not be a big deal to others – I don’t know what’s going on in all of your heads and I haven’t finished my psychology degree so I’m not actually qualified to go exploring in there yet – but having a negative inner voice is a huge problem for me, and I’ve decided I deserve better than that. This is not who I want to be. I want to be a go getter, I want to be brave and confident and strong and the get-back-up-dust-yourself-off-and-carry-on type of woman. I want to back myself. I want my kids to grow up knowing it’s OK to be proud of themselves, their talents and their abilities, and it’s also OK to fail. I want other mamas and women and people I meet in the street and you to know it’s OK to have faults and struggles and that you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself for it.
So… now what?
Well, now that I’ve identified the issue, I’m going to consciously change my inner dialogue. This will probably take a long time – almost like learning to think in a different language – but you know what? The time will pass anyway. I am going to try and “catch” my self-berating thoughts and come up with a specific and kinder alternative.
Edited to add: I still do this. It’s simply a change in perspective; for example, if I catch myself thinking “I’m so anxious all the time, I even find little things scary, what a bloody wuss”, I’ll specifically tell myself “I’m so brave for doing all these things even though I find them scary or difficult.”
Eventually, I’m hoping the kind inner Bunny will (kindly) kick inner-cow Bunny out.
If you feel like you could do with a bit of negative thought pattern reno, please make it a priority and go for it – you deserve to feel good about yourself, mama! If you’re having trouble getting your head around how to get started, try to imagine it like this… in your inner mind, there are two plants growing: a negative thoughts plant and a kind thoughts plant. Every time a sprout pops up from the negative plant, pluck it out, and water and fertilise the kind thoughts plant. Eventually, if you care for it, the kind thoughts plant will grow big and strong, and the negative thoughts plant will stop trying to grow back.
Ironically, as I wrote that, inner-cow Bunny piped up “don’t use a bloody plants metaphor, you can’t keep anything alive except weeds, go look at your garden!”. Well, stuff you inner-cow Bunny, I’ve kept a basil plant almost fully alive since February and germinated seedlings from an old tomato I cut up and planted in a pot, so there. And for that matter, I’ve managed to keep myself and two kids alive too.
Edited to add: Since writing this post the poor basil and tomato plants have both sadly gone to plant heaven, but you’ll be pleased to know the kids and I are still alive and well at least!😉
You deserve all the love and kindness in the world. But most importantly, you deserve to love and be kind to yourself – I hope you know that ❤
Until next time, glow mamas!