Three tips for dealing with that mean voice in your head, and all the anxiety that comes with it.
Who out there hasn't felt crushed by the weight of their own expectations? Who hasn't dreamed up something for themselves, and then been flooded by a million reasons why it could never work, because there is so much wrong with you it's impossible to even make a list? Who else sometimes feels like they're drowning in self-doubt?
When you can't celebrate any kind of a win, because even the biggest success isn't good enough? What about feeling paralysed by your own anxiety? Or silenced by the fear of not knowing what dumb-ass comment is going to come out next, and maybe you should just shut up.
Who experiences that morning after a night of drinking anxiety, but all the time. It's called The Fear.
Who sometimes feels like they're living with a bully, one that is with you night and day and never stops telling you how rubbish you are?
I've recently learned that there is more than one version of ourselves living inside our head. Have you ever felt like a walking contradiction? I sometimes do. And when I listened to the Radiolab podcast called Help! it made a lot more sense to me that there is the creative, positive, cheerful side of myself - and then the miserable, snarky, defeatist, bullying side made up of every awful opinion of me (real or imagined), every mean comment, and everyone who ever made me feel like I wasn't good enough. I'm sure we all have multiple sides, and for some the cheerful voice is louder than the harsh one one. For others, we can move back and forth between the two, sometimes several times a day.
These two sides, they can never be in the same place at the same time. It's impossible to feel rubbish and inspired, worthless and hopeful. They don't get along, and they will never sit at the same table.
I suppose living with that bullying voice is what it truly means to be our own worst enemies. But we have a fundamental right to believe in ourselves, to be our own champions, and to have complete faith in our abilities. That awful voice really needs to go jump in the creek, so here's a few things I do to get rid of my own bully:
1. I know we are meant to be gentle with ourselves, but the way I see it, if someone started hurling at me all the abuse that I level at myself every day, I would tell them to f*ck off. Pardon me, but I would. And I would probably also cry. But first I would stand up for myself! With all the who-do-you-think-you-are's and sweary language necessary until they learned that I am not to be pushed around. Maybe we need to give that awful voice in our head a telling off sometimes. I think our bad opinions of ourselves can be a combination of things, sometimes things other people have told us, sometimes impressions we have interpreted from situations, sometimes that critical voice in your head is someone else entirely - an actual real life bully. And I think it's OK to tell them to do one.
2. And to counteract all that aggro, its important to pay attention to that voice in our head that we so often disregard, the one that believes in us more than anyone. It does exist! But sometimes it can get so squashed by the negativity that it needs some nurturing to bring it to life. Do whatever inspires you, whatever fills your heart with joy, whatever makes you feel alive! For me that would be a road trip with the people I love, my camera and a feeling of great things to come. Or even a day at home or in a coffee shop just planning! Planning blog posts, photo shoots, future trips, weekends away, a list of books to read... any kind of plan that makes me feel like good things are coming my way and I am excited to be alive.
3. Laughter. There is no bigger threat to bad feelings that a real belly laugh. Sometimes it can be hard to talk to people about how awful you feel about yourself, especially if it's a reoccurring feeling. It's not nice to feel like that person who always seems to have something wrong, who is always a little bit down on themselves. And it's difficult to feel like other people are reassuring you all the time, because sometimes that reassurance falls short when that voice in your head is screaming "LIES". Give your mind a break from itself, go and sit in the sunshine with friends, talk about something ridiculous and try to encourage yourself to have a good laugh. It really does clear the head and brightens the heart.