Monday, 15 September 2014

Language of the Self

Well... that was stupid. What were you thinking, you moron?!

As I was working today, I came around a corner and there was a divot in the lawn made by someone planning to erect a telephone pole or by a dog who subsequently went to find the bone she was burying or by a child who wanted to know if China were really down there somewhere. Either way, there was a hole. A hole large enough for a good portion of my foot to not find terra firma where it was expected.

I turned my ankle.

I could easily turn this post into something about “not paying attention” or “focusing” or “don't take unnecessary shortcuts”. How was I to know there would be a hole where there was no indication there would be one? It's not as if it were my child, my dog or my telephone pole.

I would rather make this about self-talk. How often have we uttered similar words as those above? I tend to use more graphic ones than these from time to time. Self-talk, after making an error, seems to be ingrained into our psyche. Where does it come from? Who invented the idea that chastising ourselves was a good idea?

Over the years I have come to understand that it is not our voice rattling around our heads and spewing such self loathing. The voice is made up of all those people in our lives past that have made sure we knew we made a mistake. It is a compilation of parents, teachers, relatives, bosses, “friends”, acquaintances, strangers and pretty much anyone else with an opinion about the errors we have made. If we look at it, most of what they are saying is a cover up for their own inadequacies.

The language we use to describe ourselves is at least twice as damaging (or uplifting if we use the good stuff) as what others say to us.

It comes down to this... do I believe I am so incompetent as to deserve the flaming retribution? As a grown adult of 53 years would I take that crap from anyone else? Would I allow them to call me a moron or an idiot or any number of other degrading terms? Would I allow them to be passive aggressive and make me feel badly so they can feel better about their inadequacies? No. Then why am I taking that crap from myself?

There are plenty of people out there willing to point out every little mistake you make in your life as if it were Armageddon. There is absolutely no need to give it to yourself.

I still manage to let the negative verbiage fly every now and then. I also make a huge effort to catch myself and laugh it off. Laughing heals a lot of shit. Further than that, I make sure what I am thinking about myself is as positive as possible. Just because I don't say the words out loud does not mean they aren't still messing around in my psyche. I have to be careful what I think too.

We are human beings. We make mistakes. Sometimes our judgement is clouded. Sometimes we know what is best for us and we ignore it anyway. Sometimes we don't know what's best for us until the time has passed to act. Sometimes we make a decision and regret having made it or we become paralysed by a decision and regret not making a choice at all. Sometimes we fall. Sometimes we whack our thumb with a hammer. Sometimes we jump to a conclusion without all the facts.

It's called life.

Life is about learning. Life is about trial and error. Life is about learning lessons when we make a mistake and when we are victorious.

Life is not about self deprecating behaviour.

One more thought. If there is a person in your life who consistently reminds you of errors you have (or have not) made, you need to get them out of your life. If there is a person in your life who is consistently telling you what you should or shouldn't do, you need to get them out of your life. They are poisoning the pool. This is your life and you are the most important thing in it.

Be good to yourself. Be careful the words you use on yourself. Be cautious of the words others use to describe you. You are the royalty in your life. Treat yourself as such.

I'm off to soak my ankle.