Many of us have been there. Ready to tear out our hair, feeling frustrated with our apathy. Looking at our journal or planner, wondering how we will make it "right"... Not wanting to start again because we fear we will end up back here, feeling like a failure. Asking ourselves questions like "How hard is it to fill in a box a day?" "How lazy are you?" Do you resonate on some level?
I've been there, more times than I care to count. I've been down to the depths of the darkness, wondering if perhaps leaving this earth is a better alternative than facing the horror of my imperfect nature, facing my darkest demons of feeling unlovable, unworthy and most of all like I was never going to be enough. :(
There is however a light. It doesn't always have to be this way.
I'm not here to tell you that it's possible to never fall of the wagon, that there is a mythical land in which mistakes aren't made, and we can live up to that superwoman myth we've been hoping to for so long. That's bullshit.
What I am here to tell you is it's possible to be kind to yourself when you fall down. When you look back at your tracker and see you haven't filled it in for a week, again. It's okay. It's not an overnight fix. It's not a miracle pill. It is a way of being, that built up over time, with some patience can be fallen back on in the harder times, in the times when the weight of the world feels too much on your shoulders.
And it starts with using the word "Thank you". It's counter intuitive, in fact when I first heard this theory from my mentor 3 and a half years ago I thought he was nuts. He couldn't possibly understand how unkind that inner voice, that inner critic was in my mind. She was downright nasty. Why on earth would I want to say "thank you" to her?
3 years on, and I get it. Finally. It wasn't always easy, it didn't always work well, however this one simple trick made all the difference.
It meant that 2 days ago when I realised I'd got off track for 9 days, and that voice thought about having it's say, it instead chose to be kind. For so long every time that voice, the part of me doing it's best to keep me safe would speak up I would retaliate, giving it exactly what I was complaining it was doing to me. My inner selves at war with each other. Of course I felt like shit. Of course it was a battle to pick up something that wasn't perfect and try again in the face of feeling like I was a failure. Now, these days, while I still have internal conflicts at times, mostly I am kind and generous with myself, and it started with Thank you.
Inner critic - "See you can't even tick a box for a week. You are so pathetic." Other me "Joe is nuts, Thank you cant possibly work" Inner critic "See you can't even follow that simple instruction"
Me "Thank you" Inner Critic "What do you mean Thank-you, is this some weird voodoo thing, you think thank you can tame me? How stupid are you!!" Me - Hesitates for a moment as I contemplate telling inner critic to F^&% off - takes a deep breathe "Thank you" Inner critic - also hesitates "You mean you are actually going to listen to me for once?" Me - "I'm going to try" Inner critic *Goes off on a tirade about the word try* Me *Deep Breathes* *Counts to 10* "Thank you" Inner critic - Goes off again. Me - retaliates.
Next day, I try again. My inner critic was fierce. She was determined to keep me safe, to hold me back, and the only way she knew how was to talk down to me, the only way she had experienced was through criticism, through statements like "You could do better" "That's not good enough" and so many more.
Slowly, with lots of patience, and a wonderful set of coaches guiding me to know what validation and encouragement could sound like I learned to fill the gap, I also learned what my inner critic was really trying to say, but didn't know how. "That looks dangerous" "Are you sure we can handle it if we fail?" "I'm worried about how this might turn out"
From here, Thank you started to make more sense. "Thank you for pointing out the danger." "Thank you for letting me know your are worried." "Thank you for your concern about if we can handle it."
And from there, we moved to being able to have somewhat rational explorations. Inner critic "Hmm, you've not done an email for a while" Me "I know, I feel really bad" Inner critic "Do you reckon we can handle it if we sent one out now?" Me "Maybe, I don't really know" Inner Critic "You know, I've doubted you heaps in the past, I've aimed to keep you safe, but I think you've got this" Me "Okay..." *Goes to binge watch netflix for a day* Inner critic "Hmm, that pattern of hiding is coming up again... Do you think maybe we should do something about that?" Me "If I go look, and see how long it's been, will you be kind?" Inner Critic "Yes, I got your back, let's look together"
Now I get for many of you, your inner critic and you are not there yet. You've fallen off the wagon, your inner critic is going nuts, perhaps you are retaliating. It's not as easy as I've described. If only I knew what your inner critic was like... Thank you sounds ridiculous. And maybe it is. Maybe it wont work. If you don't try, you'll never know. And maybe, just maybe, it will work.
If you'd like to join us as we stumble, fall, climb back up, sometimes hide and avoid the conversations, sometimes chime in when we feel we've got our shit together (which is not required), then I'd love to invite you to join the DailyFROG Accountability group. With opportunities to share (if you choose) gather tips, observe how others keep showing up, until you are ready to jump in yourself and give designing your success a go, you will find the group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/DailyFROG/