TO BE OR NOT TO BE KIND
“I am lazy. No, I am SO lazy.”
That’s what one participant contributed to the discussion of negative dialogue in her head in a recent introductory workshop: Transforming Your Inner Critic.
Not surprising, her demeanor as she shared this familiar sentiment was unhappy and defeated.
Other phrases volunteered were, “I’m not productive enough.” “I don’t try hard enough to fix this problem.” “I’ve been bad (about my eating.)”
What was so interesting was I was actually challenged to demonstrate why they had to be concerned about these harsh thoughts and words. Why did it even matter?
That’s how conditioned and numb they’d become to the habit; this toxic, wellness destroying routine that was sucking the joy right out of their lives and undermining self-esteem and confidence.
These opinions had become a fact of life. A default. As if they were true.
But they are not true. They are a lie.
The participants were horrified at the thought of saying the same words to a friend or family member.
I asked why.
Because it’s rude, hurtful, insulting, alienating, disrespectful and judgemental they said with an unspoken yet clear loyalty in their tone towards the friend/family member.
So I asked the obvious question- why is it ok to habitually and regularly be rude, hurtful, insulting, alienating, disrespectful and judgemental to yourself?
They were quiet, never having looked at it this way. They finally understood the WHY about cleaning up self-critical dialogue that does not motivate, encourage or inspire change.
The words like “I am so lazy.” make you feel awful about yourself and perpetuate the behaviour you actually want to change by thinking it in the first place.
Later in the workshop I explored the actual message behind the criticism. It’s so important to get past the lie and find the truth of the intention of the statement.
Underneath” I am so lazy” were feelings of: disappointment, procrastination, overwhelm, stuck.
The new phrase suggested, devoid of judgement or put down was:
“I feel overwhelmed and stuck.”
That is much more accurate, specific and true than,” I am so lazy”.
It’s also constructive because it conveniently points to a solution.
How do you deal with overwhelm? By allowing help in.
This phrase is more neutral than “I am so lazy”. Neutral is what to aim for as you begin your path towards self-kindness.
It’s too much of a stretch to go overtly positive at this point. We just want to neutralize the critic, not convert it to Pollyanna.
One step at a time.
When you stop the words that cause you to feel defeated and unhappy, when you start the practice of reflecting vocabulary that holds the truth of your feelings, when you avoid getting tangled up in a dramatic debilitating lie about your self, that’s when you create real forward motion in your life.
That’s when you start to feel better. For longer, and more often.
That’s why kind words are so important to speak to your self.
It’s never too late to begin. And there’s nothing to stop you from experimenting with kindness today.