The Voice is Yours

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I heard the voice as soon as I looked in the mirror this morning.

It pointed out the bags under my eyes, critiqued my skin, and replayed the wrong thing I said in a conversation yesterday. It attacked the way I worded a work email and berated me for forgetting to send a birthday card on time. Consequently, it was not a great morning. I was impatient, snippy with my kids and too unfocused to be as productive as I needed to be. 

What does your internal dialogue sound like? Do you hear positive self-talk? Or do you scold yourself over the disorganization of your pantry and the M & M’s  you ate out of the freezer last night? 

Maybe the voice whispers that you are inferior to your brilliant sister or your perfect friend? Does it tell you that you don’t measure up to your overachieving co-worker or that uber-crafty Pinterest mom?  I’ve attended birthday parties where the beautifully done décor and food made my store-bought veggie tray and dollar store goody bags look pitifully sub-par. 

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves as mothers and as women. Would you say the things you say to yourself to your best friend? How about your child?

If the answer is no, I have some things to try:

  • Daily Affirmations: It may sound cheesy, but infusing your day with self-love works. So much of our self-talk is automatic, so we have to work to change the negative into a positive. Does the voice whisper that you’re not good enough, successful enough, pretty enough? Try affirming statements instead: “I love and approve of myself”; “I am enough”; “I am capable.”  This is a simple, but great method to counteract the negativity. This site is a good resource to purchase affirmation cards or to read free online articles to boost healthy self-talk.
  • Identify The Voice: Without getting too deep on the subject, many times the voice we hear does not belong to us. Rather, it belongs to a critical adult when we were a child, an adverse or abusive partner, or a dismissive life experience that replays. After you have identified the source, you have the chance to reparent that voice with your adult voice, to take it back as your own nurturing voice. If there is abuse or trauma in your history, you may want to enlist the support of a qualified therapist for this step.
  • Move Your Body: We know by now that exercise increases the ‘feel good’ chemicals in our brains and bodies. I’m an anxious person with a plethora of nervous thoughts. I need physical activity to quiet my OCD and increase my patience. I thought I needed to exercise to the point of exhaustion to drown out my critical voice. This just made me even more stressed out. These days, I listen to my body to determine what it needs. Some days, I enjoy taking a class or working out solo to my 90’s rap playlist. When I need a slower pace, I bike to my Kenny Loggins hits. (Seriously, never underestimate the mood changing power of Kenny Loggins.)  And there are days when I simply stretch or practice yoga.    
  • Practice Self Care: Nurturing ourselves is often bested by taking care of everyone else. However, feeling good about yourself inside and out is the foundation of treating others well. For example, the airplane oxygen mask metaphor: you need to put on your own before you can help others put theirs on. Regular self care doesn’t have to be a time-consuming task. Taking a few minutes for deep breathing, watching a funny video, making yourself a healthy lunch, or taking a bubble bath can inject simple pleasures into an otherwise demanding day. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination. 

It’s all connected. We can’t feel good in our bodies unless we feel healthy in our minds. It’s impossible to be truly kind to each other unless we are good to ourselves. We are all works in progress. My hope is that if I continually use these tools, one day I will not be bothered by women who speak in baby voices. It is then that I will know that I am truly happy with myself.