What did you say (to yourself)? 🙉

I got a call from one of our family’s medical providers this week. I hadn’t paid their bill, and they were assessing us a late charge and threatening to withhold services…

I felt irresponsible, careless, foolish, and sloppy when I listened to that message. I could hear myself in my head, “You idiot. You know you need to pay for that; now it will cost us more. Why can’t you get that under control?”

There was more, but it was so unkind I’m embarrassed to write it down 🙈.

If a friend were playing that message and having those feelings, I would easily say, “Hey, it’s no big deal. How often are you missing bills (rarely)? In the grand scheme of things, a $25 fee is no big deal. You’re juggling a lot…”

Why are we so harsh with ourselves? Why do we say things to ourselves we’d never say to a friend?

Is that voice serving you?

When I ask clients about those voices, they almost always identify them as “little kid” or parental voices. They might be echoes from when they experienced a harsh consequence for a particular behavior (usually when they were young). That experience made a powerful mark on them, and like burning your hand on a stove, you don’t want to come close to it again!

But we’re not little kids anymore. There’s a grown-up you that has things (mostly) under control. Your life is not falling apart at the seams. It’s OK.

When left unchecked, those harsh voices (trying to protect us from imagined consequences) take a toll on our confidence and capacity. They can drag us back into a space where we were faced with responsibility that we weren’t resourced for, may have overwhelmed us, or couldn’t manage.

Rewriting the script

So when I hear harsh criticism in my head, I try to “put on my big boy pants” and address that voice with kindness. “It’s scary when I screw up. The grown-up shouldn’t miss easy stuff like paying a bill. But it happened, and it’s going to be OK.”

Then, I make a plan to pay that bill and move on with my day.

Do you experience harsh criticism from yourself? How do you get back to a more productive head-space?

Could your leadership range restrain
the growth of your business?

Take our self-leadership assessment to identify opportunities
to grow your leadership (which could grow your business).

Get your results instantly without entering your email address.