I’m a meditation teacher and coach who has always had a fascination with the power of the mind. It’s been interesting looking back and navigating my own journey with my self talk, looking at how its shifted and changed in the last number of years to where its landed today.
FROM THE BEGINNING
From a young age, I was fascinated with the mind. I would read sport psychology books for fun. Trying to uncover a new way I could program my mind for ‘success’. I realised the power of my own self-talk, especially when playing sports, if I was feeling down on myself, how could I expect myself to show up in the way I wanted to?
In my second year of University I ended up hitting a rough patch of anxiety and stress, coupled with high expectations I placed on myself, the doctors classified it as a mild case of GAD (general anxiety disorder). Which meant counselling and trying to ‘reduce my stress’. And if you’ve ever told a stressed person to simply stop stressing – guess what, it doesn’t work. It simply makes them angrier (or me angrier) because to simply ‘not stress’ adds to my stress.
And so eventually I was forced to go to yoga with my mum to help me calm my nerves. I’m sure there was some eye rolls at attending this weekly class but then something started to shift and change. I couldn’t deny the positive effects it was having on my life. When I became stressed or my mind was overactive, I realised I breath through the discomfort. As someone who hated flying, travelling back from L.A. and around the U.S without having to pop any pills – I knew I have to thank my connection with my breath for helping me thru that.
I remember the first time I was told “you have thoughts in your mind but you aren’t your thoughts” and it’s like my whole mind blew up. Aghast. Really?
You mean I don’t have to listen to these anxiety ridden thoughts within my own mind that are causing me to become paralysed? Wow, that’s liberating and free. I’d like more of that please. And that’s exactly what I did …
POWER OF THE MIND
I ended up spending the rest of my early 20’s listening to Gabby Bernstein lectures in my car. Learning about the power of manifestation, how you could create your own reality (which I still believe, this life I’m living right here, is proof). I loved this quote from Steve Jobs from an old youtube clip of his. He says:
” When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and you’re life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
I realised the power of allowing my mind to determine what I could create. If it was only myself in my way, I could change and affect that. I was hooked, affirmations, journalling, intention setting, and big desire statement manifestations I would read out to myself on the daily. Yes incredible, except I also look back at this stage and think, wow, how exhausting. I wonder if I could have simply chilled out a little more and enjoyed what was around me. Funnily enough, the more I chill out, the more good that naturally comes my way.
SLIPPERY SLOPE – DOWNHILL
And then somewhere along the way, something changed. Since knowing the power of my own thoughts I started to think, well if I only thought good thoughts, how good would that be? Somewhere along the way that same old black or white, rigid perfectionist thinking crept back in and I couldn’t even recognise it.
It was disguised as ‘positive thinking’, ‘helping and healing’ when in truth it was darkness wrapped in affirmations.
It took a yoga teacher training, becoming very sick and an unraveling, to realise my bright, shining personality was not coping as well as I thought it was. It took time back in therapy, to realise my ability to ‘keep on keeping on’ was actually hurting and hindering me.
And really realising, that my level of ‘dealing with’ life is different to so many people’s around me. And that’s okay. I am far more sensitive, empathetic and need stronger boundaries to protect my own self. Then the ‘regular’ person. And being totally okay and cool with that. You work with what you got.
Eventually I found myself here. Landing somewhere in the middle thanks to my mindfulness and meditation practice. Realising that thoughts are simply thoughts. That life is simply life. Sometimes it will be hard, and gut wrenching, and difficult, and that’s okay. And sometimes it will be joyful, and spacious and light and laughter. And sometimes that can be more difficult.
But both are moments of life. And trying to make one thing better than the other leads to stress.
So I found myself to this healthy middle ground. Classic Libran always coming back to the middle 😉
To realise that thoughts are thoughts, it’s not about faking positivity, “I’m the best person in the world”. It’s not believing your mind when it tells you “you’re the worst person in the world” either. It’s learning to tune into the kind and loving voice that is always available to you.
Most importantly you might be wondering, does it ever go away? Truth be told I wish I could say that my inner critic went away, it didn’t, it hasn’t and I’m not expecting it to go anywhere, anytime soon. It’s still there to this day. Something I’ve noticed the fear and doubt becomes loudest when you are doing something you care about. But that doesn’t mean you have to listen to it, or let it control you.
I’ve noticed that if I don’t continue to question and look at the thoughts within my own mind, I might end up believing those thoughts and thinking something is gospel or the truth, when it’s simply a belief I’ve created. Or a very limiting belief that is keeping me small.
So it’s a constant process, to help you tune into your loving and kind voice, away from your inner critic. I highly recommend THIS meditation I recorded for you.
Does the time of day affect when your inner critic hits?
I love this question, I think it’s important to realise that your inner critic is going to speak loudest when something is important to you and you care about it. In saying that I know exactly what you mean by saying your’s is loudest in the morning. I think when we wake up in the morning, it is easiest to be in that ‘funk’ and if we aren’t careful we can listen to the negative thinking, the doubt, or lack within our mind to set us up for the whole day.
This is why I always recommend morning meditation or journalling to help you connect in with yourself and to turn the light switch on. To wake up your mind and find that feeling good position.
In saying that what this question does make me want to speak about, as I am writing this on day one of my bleed, in my cycle is, the way hormones can affect our inner critic and where you are in your cycle will most definitely affect how you are feeling about yourself. Day one, it’s going to be loud, day 14, peak ovulation (normally) time this inner critic will be less most likely.
I always subscribe to living your life in alignment with your cycle when you can, and another reason is it helps you realise is this me feeling this way, or is it simply my hormones and my bodies natural tendencies coming out to play?