I have a really cruel inner voice. I mean, she is such a bully. I call her the enemy because she does not want me to be happy. She waits until I’m down and then just starts kicking me repeatedly. The enemy does not want me to succeed at anything.
I’ve been tirelessly working to evict her from my mind but I have not triumphed yet. It takes so much work to overpower her but luckily I’ve been doing physical and mental exercise lately.
Some of the mental exercise involves surrounding myself with positive messages. So I read, listen to music, and spend time with like minded people. In doing this, I came across a great Ted Talk this week about emotional health.
In his talk, Guy makes the point that when we berate ourselves it’s the same as if we were to get cut and then decide to take a knife and make it even deeper.
I do this to myself nearly every day. Me and so many other people.
I know. But we still do it.
Last weekend I presented at a conference. It wasn’t my best performance ever and I got a couple constructive comments on the feedback forms. And then it began…the enemy attack. I have been getting so much better at fighting her off but I was already tired that day from the 7 hours of travel it took me to get there. And so she pounced.
It took me hours but I eventually clawed my way out of that hole. The first thing I did was ask myself how would I respond to a friend in this situation? (my answer was nothing close to what I was saying to myself) So I decided to start repeating in my head what I would tell a friend. Honest, but encouraging comments.
No one gives a perfect presentation every time. Maybe Steve Jobs, but I’m not him. I can take this experience and the feedback and get better from it. That helped.
Then I started focusing on the positive comments instead of the negative ones. Yes, I had some suggestions for improvement but I also had some really good ones too.
On the plane ride home, I took the negative and positive comments and made a plan for how I will continue to do the good things and improve on the not so good things in the future. That really helped.
But the most helpful thing of all was focusing on this one comment:
“You are very considerate of others and it is noticeable.”
THAT is why I am here. I enjoy giving presentations and telling people about good leadership, of course. But ultimately, I am here to enrich the lives of others. Sure, it wasn’t a perfect presentation. But I touched at least one person’s life and so I was successful.
So $#*% off enemy. You are not welcome here.
This is a very powerful excerpt from Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 speech Citizenship in a Republic. I got it from Brene Brown’s book Daring Greatly and it is my new motto.