Updated: May 22
I survived Friday the 13th! Yes. Normally, I am not particularly superstitious that bad things happen on Friday 13th. All in all, my day started out a good one. I woke up in a good mood. Had a pleasant day at work. Even caught some synchronicities. I caught the number 2727 twice (once on a phone number and then later on a car tag less than 10 minutes later). I caught 111 on my fuel range. I also saw 333 on the back of another car tag.
Tried my "good" luck and won $3 off the number 11 on a scratcher. All in all, a good day. My spirit was light and I was in a good head space and then...
For the past two weeks, I have been walking near my job after work. It helps center me. It helps ground me. It helps relieve stress and is good for my physical health. Basically, the same thing I have been encouraging my readers to do I have been doing because you know, hypocrite much? I went out to my car, got my workout clothes. Entered back into my office, went to the bathroom, and changed clothes (taking off my name badge which has the office key attached behind it). Then I realized, socks. No biggie, I stop by my office to grab my key fob and head back out the door. As soon as the door went thunk, I knew I had done it. Double checking in my hands, nope badge is not there. And if badge is not there that means the key to the office is not there. And yes my loves, it gets better. My cellphone to call for assistance? You guessed it, it is in the building as well.
"I can't believe I did that."
"Why did I just do that?"
"How did I manage to do that?"
"I never lock the door when I am here and running to my car for a quick two seconds. Why did I do that?"
And yes, a tear or two fell as well, because you know, why? Why me? I went ahead and grabbed the socks and put them and the shoes on at the car. Got inside of my car. Then tried to call the one co-worker who lived in the city less than 10 minutes from the office. No answer. I know you must be thinking, "Wait, I thought you said you left your phone in the building?" That is correct. I did. Thanks to the wonderful wonders of modern technology, my phone was still bluetooth connected to my car and my car is parked close enough to my building that I can hit the call button and tell the car, "Call ___" and it was able to do so. (Modern technology for the win here!) Unfortunately, no answer.
I really want to cry at this point, in fact a few tears did fall. I took deep breaths and after about 10 minutes hoping for a call return, I went on my walk. (And there were some strange goings on then as well but not in line with today's theme so I will skip it). I focused on deep breathing and walked on. Then I had one of those almost hysterical laughs and gratitude flooded me. Though I had locked my key in the office along with my purse, my wallet, my driver's license, my cell phone, I really did have a lucky break in all of this. Why? Because I had my car keys meaning I could at least get home. Had I not had my car key fob in my hands, I would have not only been unable to call anyone I also would not even be able to drive myself home. Additionally, I have a bad habit of riding my car until the gas light is on and there is a serious risk of me not being able to make it home. This particular day, I got gas while on my lunch break, rather than waiting until getting off work. Good thing too because I would have needed money to get gas.
When I made it back from my walk, I tried two things (one of which wasn't exactly legal and involved a gift card cracking). After a second failed attempt to contact my coworker, I decided to drive home. Mildly embarrassed but overall grateful.
Today's blog post, though sharing a very embarrassing moment of this author, it really is a call to action for you. There is a reason dentists have dentists, doctors have doctors, surgeons have surgeons, lawyers have lawyers, coaches have coaches, and therapists have therapists. Professionals know what to do, but because we are human, we all have blind spots. Surface level things we can catch, but those deeper level concerns require another set of eyes to effect change.
I am one of the biggest self-recriminators I know. My inner critic is often loud and wrong for no other reason than to make me suffer. I am convinced of this. But there are several things that have helped me as a coach and therapist, that helped me to practice self-compassion in the moment that my critic would normally tear into me. Below I will provide you with 4 things that I have used to silence my inner critic.
Stop thinking you can do this alone. Yes, there are some things you can catch and correct on your own. But when it comes to those innermost thoughts that we generally don't share with anyone else, you can't do that alone. Too many blind spots. A surgeon can't both put themselves under anesthesia and operate on themselves. A dentist can't drill their own teeth to correct cavities. You need guidance to hit those hard-to-reach places. One of the best decisions I made for myself as a coach and therapist was to sign up for my own personal coaching and seek mentorship as therapist. You don't have to do this alone.
I do not let a single day pass without verbally or on paper telling myself just how blessed I am and show gratitude for it. I have written about the wonders of practicing gratitude and I can honestly say, it has definitely re-wired my brain from only being critical to now finding even the smallest things in life to just bask in and enjoy. Don't over complicate it. If you are stuck on where to begin with showing gratitude, tap into those 5 senses. Some people can't see but perhaps you can. What are all the beautiful things you get to witness everyday? Green grass? Blue skies? Beautiful sunrise or sunset? Playful birds or playful squirrels? Some people can't hear but perhaps you can? Have you enjoyed the sound of birds chirping? Children laughing? The voice of a loved one that makes your heart smile? If you do not have a gratitude journal, you need to start one like yesterday.
I love you, me. Today is going to be a great day. I am whole. I am amazing. I am kind. I am calm and peaceful. I choose my own attitude. Find something that is meaningful to you. It may be a Bible scripture or scripture from the Torah or Quran. Find something that once uttered, it makes you feel invigorated. Whatever this saying is, say it often-when you first get up, when you lay down. And all the times in between. The point here is to increase the ratio of positive self-talk and decrease the ratio of negative self talk. Rewire your brain to positive self talk being your default mode rather than negative being the default mode.
I have often told my clients (therapy and coaching) that we often wouldn't dare say the things to our friends that we secretly say to ourselves. We generally are more patient and loving with our friends than we would ever dream of being with ourselves. No one is perfect and negative self-talk may creep its way in. When those times happen, stop and say, "Ouch." It's the same trick we use with babies and toddlers to gently teach them that their actions have an affect on others. Well, now you are gently teaching yourself that same lesson. Ouch. Because words do hurt.
Being hard on myself was not going to make that office door any less locked nor make any of my personal items magically appear in my car. I will admit and acknowledge that though being hard on ourselves is ineffective, the pattern once established is very hard to break. It will require consistent attention and practice, sometimes coupled with consistent personal and professional supports. I have to give a shout-out to a friend of mine who I will call Candy (and the irony is she will most likely not like this but hey, anonymity right?). I was going through a particular rough period in my life and she gave me 4 simple words that have remained with me: "Be gentle with yourself." And that is what I will leave you with today my dear readers. From my friend to me and now from me to you courtesy of her, "Be gentle with yourself."
As always, I would love to hear from you in the comments below. Which of the above strategies would you like to commit to practicing this week? Or, do you have any other strategies that you would like to share? Scroll down to the comment section below and share your wisdom. And as always, wherever you are on this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading.
"Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing." ~Harriet Braiker
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