I don’t know about you, but I have a pretty active inner dialogue.
I want my inner dialogue to be Morgan Freeman, waxing poetic and offering deep insights about the day-to-day activities in my life.
My inner dialogue is not Morgan Freeman. My inner dialogue is often straight out of Mean Girls. I’ve talked before here about self-judgement, self-worth, and being hard on yourself. And I can promise you, I wouldn’t talk to another living thing the way that I talk to myself some days. I bully myself - that’s really the only term for it - on my worst days, I absolutely bully myself with a litany of thoughts that make me feel like an awful person.
Because that’s what thoughts do - they inform how we feel about something.
There is an action - something happens, we do something - and then there is the litany of thoughts that follow.
Yesterday, for example, while trying to talk to Amy from across the gym, I ran full on into the poll into the middle of the gym. That's right. I walked into a pole. I’m talking right out of a movie, full speed, Kramer from Seinfeld, slammed into a poll. In fact, if you see me in the next few days, you can admire the lump on my forehead.
What followed that action, aside from seeing stars, was the inner dialogue that followed.
How could I be so stupid?
Why am I so careless?
Who put a pole in the middle of the floor?
I spent the rest of the day feeling stupid. Every time I put my hand to my forehead and winced from the bump, all I could think was how on earth I could manage to walk into a pole. And while that's a valid question, that cascade of thoughts made me feel inadequate.
I actually felt stupid. There's no other way to put it. And that feeling followed me for the rest of the day. (And clearly into this morning...)
What I didn't do, was interrupt the inner dialogue that was feeding that feeling. I didn't stop the mean girl commentary I was feeding myself about Kim. And I know I'm not alone in this. We do it to ourselves all the time about what we do and don't do. We don't lift as much in the gym today as we did before vacation. Today's workout is harder and we're sucking wind and all we can think is that we should have worked out more over vacation.
Yesterday I was listening to a podcast, and this quote caught my attention:
"When the inner dialogue stops, our life changes."
When we learn to stop and recognize the verbal diarrhea spouting off in our head - when we learn to change the message - when we learn to stop bullying ourselves - that's when change happens.
We might still run into the occasional pole. But we don't have to bully ourselves for doing it.