About a week ago, I sat down and wrote a post. A shouty, ranty, pissed off kind of post.
But this isn’t it.
I felt like I had my reasons for being shouty and ranty. It’s been a tough few months. In fact, I’d go as far as to say it’s been a shitty few months. Really shitty. So shitty, in fact, that I finally had enough, and, with Limp Bizkit’s ‘Break Stuff’ blaring in the background, let rip in my journal. A proper spleen-venting session, releasing months of pent-up anger, frustration and disappointment.
And, as my spleen vented, and my fingers pounded the keys, the irony of having spent that day launching a new programme about managing your self-talk – mastering your inner voice so that your negative soundtrack stays firmly in its box – was not lost on me. Nor was the hypocrisy.
But, no matter how ironic, or hypocritical, the battle I was having with my self-talk undoubtedly was, I could not shake the soundtrack blaring in my mind.
A soundtrack that told me I was a failure.
A failure as a dad. As a husband. As a provider.
A failure as an employer, a colleague, a friend.
A failure, period.
I’d allowed that soundtrack to become the dominant voice for all sorts of reasons. Tiredness, battle weariness, and family pressures all contributors to an ever-shortening fuse, and a growing haze in my brain. And there was always some reason why space to catch my breath was something just out of reach.
As the fatigue set in, so the negative voice grew, its taunts wearing away at my resilience.
“You let that person down”. “You missed that opportunity”. “You screwed up that meeting”. “You didn’t see that coming”. “You’re losing your edge”.
And, gradually, almost surreptitiously, ‘you’re losing your edge’ became you’ve lost your edge. You’ve lost your edge became you’re finished. You’re finished became you’re a failure. You’re a failure became the truth.
Only it wasn’t the truth. It isn’t the truth.
And, as the keystrokes continued, and the words took shape on the page, I began to regroup and call out the negative messages for what they were – lies. I began to see that I’d been duped, that I’d fallen into a trap. And so, not for the first time, the fight-back began.
You know only too well what I’m talking about.
You’ve been there , too – cornered in moments where, no matter how hard you try to silence the voice of doom that proclaims those negative messages from the rooftops of your mind, the lies prevail. But that voice must be silenced, for it sole desire is to pursue you, to torment you, to pummel you until it has brought you to your knees and crushed you into a mere spec of the person you truly are. And, if you are going to live a big life, that’s not an option.
But how do you beat such a persistent and devious foe?
Let it all out
I know, from bitter past experience, just how toxic holding everything inside usually turns out to be. Sure, you think you are doing yourself, and the world around you, a favour by sucking it up and pushing on, but, in reality, you aren’t doing anyone any favours. Least of all you.
But, knowing how toxic bottling it up is, and actually letting go of what you are keeping inside are not the same thing, as my recent experience highlighted to me. Again.
You see, there’s only so much space in your brain, and your negative voice likes to take up as much of that space as possible. And, the more cramped it gets inside your head, the less you clear things become, until, eventually, you can’t really tell the truth from the lies. But, when you speak it out, write it out – do whatever works for you to get your thoughts out of your head – there is instant catharsis.
As the thoughts flow out of your brain you create space. Space to breathe. Space to think clearly. And, in that space – in that clarity – your negative voice loses it’s power. It’s screams become whispers, and you see the lies for what they are.
Refresh and recharge
But, unless you fill it with goodness, and guard its entry points, the space that you created when you let it all out will soon become crowded once more. Just as fatigue and battle-weariness once allowed your negative voice to gain a foothold and take charge, it will do so again, if you let it. And back at square one is not where you want to be.
Get rid of tiredness. Recharge yourself. Refresh yourself. Move, breathe, be present. Allow the world around you to engage with your senses. Embrace the moment you find yourself in. Experience the air, the sounds, the smells that surround you.
Reset and reboot
Learn from what has gone before (yes, I know, note to self). Don’t simply pick up where you left off, start over. Reboot.
In computer-speak, flush your caches, clear your log files, repair your permissions. Start afresh, free from the toxins that contaminated your thoughts, ready to step forward, safe in the knowledge that you are worthy, that you are anything but a failure, and that you were made to live a big life.
Easy to say. Tough to do. But worth the struggle.