Four-eyes. Nerd. Loser. Wimp. These words may seem pretty innocuous now, even funny in the innocent nostalgia they bring up. But if you think back – wayyy back – before the internet was a thing, before the F word was just daily vocabulary, maybe back when you still had to fork up a nickel for every swear word that crossed your lips. In those wholesome bygone days, words like these were some of the worst insults anyone could deliver. These were fighting words baby, dropping the gauntlet kind of talk.
As we get older, the insults get meaner (and cleverer, although I don’t think you ever can beat ‘four-eyes’ for its ingenuity), but we also grow thicker skin, longer experience, better judgement. We learn how to defend ourselves, and generally don’t need to use our pre-prepared comebacks as the schoolyard bullies themselves – mostly – have also grown up out of their tyrannical habits into well-adjusted human beings (one can only hope).
But there is one tormentor, one ghost from our past who only grows louder and more opinionated the older that we get. They are mean and cruel, with a knack for hitting you when you’re down and always aiming for the gut shot, yet despite all their enmity we keep them closer to our sides than our own best friends. You can tell them to shut up – it never works. You can tell them to leave you alone – they may skip away for awhile but you know they are actually just hiding in the bushes, biding their time for the perfect ambush. There’s no escaping it, the only way to deal with this bully is to face them head on. You’ve got to enter the ring – and take on yourself.
There’s no denying it, sometimes the cruelest person we face is the one staring back at us in the mirror. There’s an unwritten rule no matter who you are that a certain type of language will simply not be tolerated from somebody else. Your instinct whenever you hear these words – anything derogatory, offensive, condescending – your inner alarm will ring and your defenses will be up. Now that same type of language delivered through another channel has the capability to seep through our defenses – the words we hear may be the exact same but we don’t sound the alarm, we don’t call in the troops.
We are all familiar with this treacherous route, this channel reaching us through the dialogue of our own inner voice. Words that we never would tolerate from an outsider are bounced around inside of our own heads – You loser! You freak! You big, fucking failure! If you ever wrote down some of the things that you’ve said to yourself, I think it would make even a sailor blush.
Be careful how you talk to yourself, because the words you do say matter. You have the best access to your inner self, the one who makes the decisions to do, or to not do. When things are not going your way, it is so easy for that voice to stand on a soapbox and preach, and when our inner voice speaks we listen, no matter how harsh or cruel the words they are saying.
But we all make mistakes, we are human. When we see this in others it is easy for us to sympathize and feel compassion, we readily tell others not to give up, that their screw-ups are temporary, easily fixed, not the end of the world! Yet how often do we lend ourselves this very same courtesy? Tell ourselves that it is okay, that we are okay, even when we mess up, screw up our routines, cheat a little. Why do we hold ourselves to the standard of Super Beings and why, when we do not achieve, do we permit the verbal assault of our own dignities?
I understand the frustration, trust me, I go through the cycle every single day. When things are going well, it’s great, the voice is a full choir singing praise. But when things start to go sour, even just a little bit, that sneaky b**** changes her tune and suddenly the music is gone, her voice sharpens like a ruler, rapping against my brain.
Think about working at an office, where everyone will have at one time or other come across That Guy – you know, the micromanager, or the one who gloats in others’ failure, then talks nonstop about how they would have done things better. That guy is the worst, nobody likes working or being around them, don’t be That Guy.
Now imagine that person, your worst nightmare at the office, shrunk down and liquefied and poured into your ear. Now they are sitting inside your brain, continuing much of the same dialogue with you from the much cozier front row seats you have so kindly provided for them.
“Wow you didn’t go to the gym today? That’s no surprise, you’re probably never going to go to the gym eh? What’s the point anyways you’re never going to lose weight, am I right? I mean, I would have gone to the gym, but you’re not me, you wish you were me, but you’re just shit.”
Nothing good ever comes from a person like – they breed resentment, ill-will, and when others work with them they do so begrudgingly. It is the same when you treat yourself so. Trying to get your motivation pumped up with a companion like that in your ear is only going to breed resentment, ill-will, and if your berating inner voice finally gets you to do something, it will only be so begrudgingly. Why settle on a relationship like that?
Be kind to yourself. When you talk to yourself with compassion, when you lend yourself the same courtesy you give to everybody else, you may just find you are more willing to work with yourself. It may be true that we can be our own harshest critics, but what is even more undeniable is only we can be our own best friend. Everything we want to be and want to achieve is within ourselves, and of course we want to draw that out. But as it is true with the rest of the world, it is true with our own selves – it is better to move forward with honey than with sticks, with kindness than with harshness.
So remember, first be kind to yourself!
Author’s Note: No post next week as I will be going on vacation, but I’ll be back the week after next. See you back here every Wednesday! If you like what you read, remember to Subscribe, Comment, Like, Share…or whatever the kids are doing these days.