Sunday, 31 January 2016

Shoulds and negative self-talk

Tiredness became me when I arrived in Franz Josef, closest town to Fox Glacier. Franz Josef also has a glacier but Fox is the better glacier, or so the Foxy folks say. At around 11pm I'd crawled into bed, passing out instantly on becoming horizontal. Joy really takes it out of me (aww poor poor girl ;) and when I awoke at about 8am, for a few seconds I was a quite confused about where I was. I was so tired I had only done a rather lazy mozzie check (squashing two) - this laziness has metaphorically and literally bitten me in the arse....and the ankles. 

I had hoped that I would have woken up completely revived and packed full of beans but as I sat up, my morning stretch was less satisfying than normal. 

'I should get up' I think,
'I must make the most of my time in New Zealand',
'I should...'

I caught myself... Shoulds are really dangerous things and left unchecked you can find that you accidentally should all over yourself.

Have you ever noticed how tiredness and  critical self-judgement go together? I was still sleepy and instead of noticing that with compassion, I judged myself for it... 'I shouldn't be tired, I should be better, stronger, tougher...' Come on even daft punk said so, no? ;) 

I paused, thought about it and deleted the shoulds. Instead I asked myself: what am I feeling? What does my body trying to tell me and is there any way I can attend to it's needs in this moment? 

I was tired, so I took some rest. Doesn't sound like rocket science does it, but how many people burn out before they even notice something is wrong, how many trips are ruined by trying to do too much? How many people around the world are should'ing all over themselves as you read this? 

If you find that like me you're a bit easy with the shoulds then I have a nice little game/trick for you that helped me. Also in addition to this trick, kick the word should although... "Do or do not... There is no should" ;) a modified yoda quote. 

Inner child trick 

We can all be thought of as being composed of two people: Our adult self and our inner child. 

When I am about to 'should all over myself', or any of the other variety of self-talk we all have from our inner critic, I find it really helpful to use the inner child trick to help me work out what to do. Here's what you do:

First, picture the young version of you, I picture me aged about 5... I was super cute. Close your eyes if it helps. Imagine the little you wherever you are and together with the 'you' you are most used to, the adult version. Ask the child this question "How are you feeling?", now listen to what you feel the response to be, be patient... Children sometimes take a while to figure out what they want to say.
Now try saying the should phrases to that little kid. It doesn't feel such a nice thing to do now does it? Can the little kid be magically energetic when they are really tired? Are they able to do better that their best? Magically become an expert at football or whatever?

What about the negative self-talk? 

'I didn't properly check for mozzies, urgh What an idiot!' sounds pretty horrible if you picture yourself addressing it to a child. 

As for the inner child's needs if they voiced any, the follow up could be "what can I, your adult self, do to help?" 

For those that struggle with self-judgement and self-compassion this little game is a really nice way to make it easier.

Anyway after I deleted the shoulds and asked myself what I needed I spent 3 hours curled up in bed with my favourite shows on the iPad, some chocolate and my water bottle. Perfect! After that I was re-energised and ready to take on anything. :) 

No comments:

Post a Comment