I took a walk early this morning. I love being outside as the world wakes up, a bit of solitude before my life gets crazy and I am trying to compete for some time for myself. This wasn’t just a leisurely stroll through my neighborhood. I was getting some real exercise. My heart rate was up, I was using hand weights for added resistance and I had my music cranked for extra inspiration.
All of a sudden, I heard a voice and I didn’t particularly like what it had to say:
“Wow, you’re really out of shape. You’ll never keep this pace up. Why do you even bother? It’s not like this has worked before.”
My inner critic had decided to come along on the walk.
The inner critic is that insidious little voice of the “Everybody.” The authoritative figure in our heads who spends all her time telling us why things won’t work and listing off the hundreds of ways we are not worthy of anything. Once I was aware of those messages, I started really listening to myself and was shocked to hear just how much of the background conversations in my head included her. Here is more of what she had to say:
“Your knees hurt because you can’t be bothered to take care of yourself.”
“You’d be in shape by now if you just had a little self-discipline.”
“That woman who ran by- the one in really good shape? She was thinking how lame you looked walking instead of running.”
My inner critic was really on a roll this morning.
We all have inner critics at one time or another- and they are a lot more present than we think. The problem is that all this complaining they do, all the harassment, the doubt, the criticism – eventually we tune it out and it all becomes background noise in our heads.
Except it doesn’t really. We might not actively hear all the negative messages we tell ourselves, but our subconscious is always listening. And we embody what we tell ourselves:
“You can’t stay focused.” Yup. I’m all over the place.
“You have no self-control.” And now I’ve eaten the entire pan of brownies.
“You’re so stupid.” So why bother to ask for the raise I deserve?
Most of the time when we can finally hear what the inner critic has to say, the messages ring untrue and lose their power. Sometimes, they require a little push back:
“You can’t lose 25 pounds.” I am focusing on this workout and the food choices I am making today. I’ll worry about all 25 pounds another time.
“You look really silly doing arm exercises while you are walking.” That’s okay. My arms are going to be more toned and I’ll look great when I’m done.
“You’re out here walking when you have so many other things to do today. You’re already behind.” All of those things will still be there when I get home and taking care of myself allows me to handle other things more easily.
Take a few minutes today and really listen to what’s going on inside your head. You may be shocked at the things you are really telling yourself. And if that inner critic is dominating the conversation, stick up for yourself.
You’re worth it.