Negative Self Talk

I’m wrapping up a class this week, a graduate book seminar focused on Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead. It has “Lead” in the title, and yes, there’s a lot in there about how to lead and manage and navigate business environments, but that’s only if you look at the surface. Running beneath, there’s a stream on vulnerability (this *is* Brene Brown we’re talking about here), bravery, strength, resilience.

One of the things that takes phenomenal amounts of courage to do is to face down the negative voices in your head. We learned about the importance of the tone of self talk in coach training, and it just keeps proving itself time and again out in the world. Nobody can cut you to pieces like you can.

This week I caught myself on the edge of a spiral, ready and willing to tear myself down from the inside out. It’s easy to do. See a pile or a disorganized space, decide that it’s a marker of morality, leap to the conclusion that it makes a moral judgement on your character, then decide that you are a bad person and need to be informed of that fact in very loud and graphic ways.

I can’t be the only one.

But this time, I did something different. I plucked one thing from the pile in front of me, then turned my back on the pile. Ignored it, despite the fact that it was a 3 alarm dumpster fire. Asked myself why I was keeping this thing, because objects are often placeholders for postponed actions. Then? I did the action, and disposed of the thing. Turned around, grabbed something else from the pile and did the same thing again. After doing this three times, I was able to come down and talk to myself gently. I reminded myself I’m dealing with extended insomnia, that I’m not firing on all cylinders, that I’m doing the best I can under current circumstances.

The thing I noticed in doing this (in hindsight) is that the negative self talk came from a place of heightened emotion for me, but focusing on action, small physical things I can do, helped downshift the pure emotional response. That gave just enough of an opening to interrupt the horrible things I was saying about myself.

It’s easy to pour out complaints and vitriol, especially when they’re directed at yourself. But to hold yourself with understanding and compassion is harder…it’s a radical act. Holding yourself with understanding and compassion helps you learn how to do it for others, lets others see it in action. That compassion is what allows you to get back up, dust off, and try again.

And all this is is one big cycle of Try Again.