What Would You Tell Your Daughter or Son?
That’s Not Working For Me
We were in our early 30’s and putting in long hours at work. My friend Monica and I were determined to do something healthy and decided to become walking buddies. The fact that we lived in adjacent condominiums made it easy to coordinate walks at the spur of the moment. Up and down the steep hills of our neighborhood we would go, burning off stress with each step and talking about anything and everything.
There was just one little problem: Monica’s mantra. Right as we were building to a good pace I’d hear her say these twisted little words to the rhythm of our swinging arms: I’m so fat. I’m so fat. To which I objected: Uh, do we have to say that? Because that’s not working for me.
Now almost 20 years later, Monica and I laugh at our younger selves and the changes to our bodies that time is bringing. While we still care about fitness, our approach is more compassionate than judging. Monica says that what she focuses on now is being grateful for everything her body is capable of and all it does for her. The new mantra goes more like this: I love my life. I love my body.
The Conversation Has Gotten Better
Since I was a young child, I’ve always talked to myself and out loud. At work, people would walk by my office and think I was on the phone. Now more than ever, I’m aware of the power of my own words and of the messages I’m reinforcing. I still talk to myself and you could say the conversation has gotten better. How about you?
Carl1 (an executive client) was discussing a challenge he was experiencing at work and the internal dialogue it triggered that had a rather paralyzing effect. His ideas about what he needed to do to improve the situation were wrapped in self-reproach. I asked him how he would counsel his daughter or son in this situation.
“Interesting you should ask,” he said, and then relayed the caring way he helps his daughter to focus when she is overwhelmed with her homework. Carl also described how he coaches his son to take a deep breath when he’s on the mound pitching at baseball. He tells him, “I want to see those shoulders go up and down.”
Carl offers gentle, caring, and positive words to both his daughter and son. How might he do that for himself, the next time he’s in a tough spot?
It’s Not Just a Nice Idea
Being harsh and beating yourself up rarely produces the desired effect. You can whip yourself toward your goals or encourage yourself there. I know which I prefer. Even when there are hard truths to acknowledge or flaws within ourselves to face, there is a compassionate way to do it.
This Week’s Call To Action:
- What is the encouragement you will speak to yourself today? Say it out loud.
- Interrupt any harsh self-talk with this question: What would I tell my daughter/son, niece/nephew, or best friend? Actually answer the question and use it as a motivational reminder whenever you’re taking on those steep hills.
It’s not just a nice idea to be kind to yourself when facing challenges, it’s the powerfully graceful way to move.
See you in the current,
¹Name changed for privacy.