You are a loser.
You make stupid make mistakes.
You eat too much junky shit.
You write shit.
You got another parking fine because you are stupid and stupid people don’t pay attention. Stupid people are out or control. You are out of control.
You did it again. Again. Again.
Familiar? I hope not, but I know I’m not the only one whose self-talk is unhelpful. ‘Unhelpful’ is a less judgmental way to say ‘shithouse’. I learned that in therapy.
The Internet is replete with memes that tell us to take it easy on ourselves, to love ourselves, be kind to ourselves. Real virtual proof that negative self-talk is rife.
Last week, at my therapist/counselor/an-hour-on-Wednesday-life-partner we talked about self-talk. We talked about how the things we say to ourselves are often things we wouldn’t dream of saying to someone else. We don’t call other people losers, or useless, or hopeless. We don’t condemn the mistakes of other people because it’s rude and it’s unkind, impatient, and somebody may punch us. And perhaps, because to be judgmental like that shows a part of us that we wouldn’t want people to see.
This is not explosive news. It’s eye-rollingly ordinary. Most of us know that our negativity is something we save for ourselves. We are impatient, we want perfection, fast. We tire of our mistakes, we would like the learning to stick from the first mistake, not the tenth. We’ll bag ourselves – our appearance, our attitude, our depression, our whatever – until the cows come home and tell us to shut up.
What’s interesting about negative self-talk is its intent.
My counselor suggested I consider the intent of my negative self-talk. She illustrated her point by using an example from her life. She said she was a procrastinator (I sat back a bit in case I got some on me) and instead of doing the paper for her uni course she’d stay engrossed in her book. Her inner voice would beat her up; you’re lazy, you’re doing it again, again etc My counselor said that the intent of that negative voice was too affect action. Her self-talk was trying to say, you like study, you like your course, you want good results, put your book down.
Negative self-talk is a Bad Parent.
One of those unreconstructed Fifties parents who thinks that change should be brought by ‘tough love’. It is not loving to tell someone they’ll never amount to anything. It’s probably the least parental thing to say, but people have said it to their kids, or versions of it, and I have certainly said it to myself.
What if, get out of bed of fucken loser, was changed to, ‘Darling, (yes, I called myself darling because it is a kinder term of endearment than fuckhead), Darling, I know you’re tired, that the black dog wants more nothing, but get up, have a shower, see what happens.’
What if we spoke to ourselves with compassion?
Challenging it is, to speak to yourself kindly.
Hard it can be, to call yourself Darling.
It’s going to be hard to rewire the thinking that I have built, it has intricacies, it’s deep. But change comes down to how much do you want it? Self compassion. I want that.
birthday flowers on my birthday