I don’t enjoy looking at myself naked in the mirror. And the older I get, the more ruthless my inner critic becomes.
Honey, put on some clothes before your husband walks in here! You’re going to scare that man into thinking you’re his grandmother with that saggy butt and wrinkly skin! (Actually, she’s not even that kind, she hardly ever uses the word “honey”.)
I fancy though not many people enjoy looking at themselves in the mirror so I don’t think I’m odd or in any way unusual. It’s totally kind of normal to be grossed out by one's self.
It’s even more normal to berate one's self. Self-loathing is often our drink of choice and even though we can’t stand the taste, it’s what we know. Anything else, like self-approval, is unchartered territory and we as humans fear the unknown.
Best to be miserable in what I know than to potentially be happy in what I don’t know.
Odd but true.
One reason for this is because it’s easy. A pig in his own shit is warm, comfy and cozy… and our own mental shit provides the same level of solace. Despite the smell. We learn to brush it off at times when we’re feeling upbeat. And we learn to wallow in it when we’re feeling less than.
It’s the naturalness in the way we speak to ourselves that’s the most frightening. I can go on, minutes on end, thinking of how I’m not good enough. How I’ve wasted the last 10 years not being centrally focused on my career but instead creating a life with my husband and children, and doing my darndest to make it a nurturing one. (And even that’s not good enough!)
I didn’t do it all and my inner critic lets me know on a daily basis.
I should be so much farther along in my career.
I don’t have what it takes to become successful, why am I even trying? Quit fantasizing about success, it’s not going to happen for you.
You don’t have the grit… you can’t even do one pull-up! (I don’t even know why it goes there, it’s ruthless!)
Nothing is off limits for this inner critic, and it’s really beginning to piss me off. It’s the wet blanket that can dampen any good mood.
How does this affect your life?
Slowly. So slow you don’t even realize it.
It’s that unfinished story you’re trying to write. It’s that 10 extra pounds that slowly took residence around your waist. It’s having the same job year after year and hating every moment of it.
It’s maintaining the status quo while ever so slightly slipping down the slope.
It’s living with less confidence, which can lead to even less ambition. It’s nurturing a poor body image, which can lead to excess weight. It’s the lack of drive, which leads to inactivity (which may lead to additional weight).
It’s a circle. A loop. And we have to find the exit ramp.
Less Resistance, More Acceptance
The path of least resistance or the easy win is how I approach this seemingly never-ending loop of chatter that lives in my brain.
It begins with acceptance. Acceptance eases the flow. It’s the relaxation of clutched hands around an object. It’s a wave of peace washing over you.
Accepting the situation you are in (i.e. dead-end job, 20lbs overweight, failed visions of grandeur) is step one.
When you do that, you lose the fight. All of a sudden the mouse on the wheel eases its effort. There’s the calm. You’ve just created space to think rationally and consciously. This is a big step!
Step 2, put one foot in front of the other. That’s all you need to think about at that point. That one motion of moving the foot, actively guiding where it lands.
Consciously directing your actions leaves little to no room for the mouse on the wheel to disrupt. It’s as if it's shocked into silence and can only watch.
There is no chatter, no internal dialogue. You’ve accepted your situation, and now you’re doing something about it.
You’re sitting down for a few minutes and giving a little love to your story. You’re putting on your workout clothes, opening the door and walking outside. You’re writing down your skills and talents and dusting off your resume. Resistant-less.
You’re going for the small, easy win. When we break the pattern, we crack open a small space and allow the light to shine in.
Creating that space is what makes all the difference.
AM Costanzo lives in Chappaqua, NY with her two rambunctious boys and all-around awesome husband. She is a motivational junkie, loves a-ha moments, and works hard to help women feel strong, powerful and downright fabulous in their bodies! More motivation can be found at www.amcostanzo.com