WHAT I WHISPER TO MYSELF
By: Lauren Anderson
“I don’t know if I can do this…”
Those were the words I whispered to myself a few weeks ago when I was trying to decide if I should add another plate of weights to my bar for some thrusters. I love doing thrusters. It’s one move on the bar where I feel like a mountain shooting up from the earth. Strong and sure and powerful.
But lately I’ve been lifting smaller weights than I used to, working on form and testing my strength. Making sure my newly healed wrist stays, well, healed.
Admittedly, this prolonged injury on such a dainty part of my body has me feeling a little more tentative than I used to. I used to whisper “You can do this” to myself all the time. It would pump me up and get me in the right head space. If you’ve been reading along with blog, you also may know another one that I like to say, “GRIP STRENGTH”. It’s a great reminder in both the literal and figurative sense.
It would help. It would always help.
But that’s not what’s coming out these days. Now it’s more along the lines of, “I’m not sure.” or “Eh… better not.” Or when it’s really bad? “YOU CAN’T DO THAT.”
And frankly, it sucks! I hate that I say these things to myself. Because it doesn’t help. Not one bit.
Perhaps the insult to the injury is, I say it just quietly enough that only I can hear it… no one else can.
Whispering as if to say, “I know what I’m saying is not helpful, so I’m going to say it just quietly enough that only I can hear my own bullshit, but not loud enough that anyone can jump in to correct me.”
That way I can continue to believe all the negative stuff I want to believe about myself, without the pesky interference from the outside world, trying to set me straight with loving thoughts or motivation or… the truth.
Because the real truth is, I CAN DO IT. I know, because I’ve done it before.
And I may not be in perfect fighting condition right now, but the spirit is there. Except my own negative self-talk is at an all time high and it’s messing with my head. And honestly? I’m not sure why.
I guess if I was gonna take a crack at the reason, I would say, it’s human condition to want to believe our own hype above anything else. Even if that “hype” is telling ourselves we can’t or shouldn’t.
EXAMPLE: I have a personal pet peeve when people don’t graciously accept a compliment. Say someone says, “I like your shirt.” A lot of times people will go, “This? Oh it’s so old.” or “No, I look dumb.”etc. When ideally what they should just say is, “Thank you.”
So, I have a little theory on this. Perhaps, not accepting a compliment really means that we prefer the opinion of ourselves to that of others. We believe that we look “dumb or ugly” so we discredit the positive assessment “I like your shirt” of someone else.
I know!!! It’s weird when you think about it like that right?!
An act which initially sought to keep us humble in turn becomes a sin of strange pride. By not accepting a compliment, we’re basically saying, “My shitty opinion of myself is more important than what you think.”
AHHHHH! BUT I DON”T THINK THAT!!!
So why not graciously say “Thank you” instead? We honor both the giver-of-praise and ourself.
But we all do it. Maybe not all the time, maybe not in all instances. But we do.
I mean, I don’t want to speak for anyone… so maybe not ALL of us. But I know I do it. Even when I know it’s detrimental. Even when I know I’m logically wrong. It’s like my twisted brain can’t resist knocking myself down a peg.
Whispers of terrible strange pride. “I’m just gonna believe all this awful stuff about myself regardless of ALL the other information available. ESPECIALLY from these people that I love and admire!”
Is it just me? Or do we all have a tiny terrible Voldemort voice living in our brains whispering shitty parsel-tongue trying to get us to break bad?
So I did a little internet research. And it’s true. Turns out it’s VERY HUMAN to whisper terrible things to ourselves. Initially we develop this trait to keep us functioning in society. We are constantly checking ourselves and comparing ourselves to others. This is a survival technique, and it begins when we’re young for a good reason. But just like with anything– if left unchecked–it becomes too powerful.
And quickly we go from a healthy internal democracy of checks and balances, to a negative fascist ruler hellbent on whispering that we’re too dumb to be promoted, too gross to be loved, and too ugly to leave the house.
Cut to last week.
We’re rehearsing at the Brave New Workshop for the 60th anniversary show. Sixty years of making comedy for Minnesotans. A tradition I am proud to be a part of. During a speech, the owners declared this is officially the Year of Gratitude. As a company, we’ll be doing things throughout the year to say “Thanks”.
And it got me thinking. I already do some sort of gratitude practice– you know– when it suits me. Mine is really manageable. When I find myself in a bad mood, I will list things I’m grateful for out loud. I always, ALWAYS start small, “I’m grateful for this orange I’m about to eat.” “I’m grateful that my car started this morning” and I work my way up.
It usually goes like this: I’m grateful my car started this morning, I’m grateful I have a car, I’m grateful that I have a job to drive my car to, I am grateful to have a loving father who helped me buy that car.
Usually by the time I get to the big dogs, i.e. my family and friends, I feel a lot better. It’s good to be reminded of all that I have. Especially when the world and my brain is so intent on reminding me what I don’t have, and what I can’t do, all the damn time.
In my reading about “Gratitude” this week, I stumbled onto some interesting practices for MANIFESTATION. (I had to put it in all caps because it’s just that kinda word.) The theorist suggests that not only should you act “as if” what you want is already here for you, but the next most baller move is to also THANK the universe for it.
EXAMPLE: Let’s say what I wanted most in the world is to lift an 150 pound thruster. I might say something to myself like, “ I want to lift 150 pounds in a thruster.” Or “Someday, I’ll lift that much, I hope.” Or “I wish I could lift that much.”
Or if I’m in the head space I’ve been in lately, I might say, “That’s too much. You can’t do that.” Or, “You’ll never lift that much.”
Buuuuuuuut…we all know that doesn’t help anything.
Well, this MANIFESTATION expert suggests that in order to visualize what I want in the most potent way, I’m to act as if I already can do it. Regardless of how much I can actually lift, I should act as though I can already lift my goal.
That doesn’t mean be stupid or reckless with my body. We’re talking strictly mental prep here. I don’t want to hurt myself! It just means to mentally prep myself as if. As if it is already a fact. Kinda like, mentally dressing for the job I want, not the job I have.
“Fake it in my brain until I can make it happen in my body”.
Then they suggest to take it one step further, and be thankful that you can do it. Literally say out loud, “Thank you body, for being so strong, and being able to effortlessly lift 150 pounds in a thruster.”
Sounds simple enough right?
So the following days, I walked around thanking everything I could think of for giving me what I wanted most. When my wrist pain flared up after a show, instead of the typical lamenting I might have done, “Oh damn. Not again! My wrist is never gonna heal.” I decided to ice it, put it back in it’s brace and say instead:
“Thank you wrist, for being so strong. Thank you wrist for being so healthy, and for feeling so good.”
Even though I was in quite a bit of pain. But here’s the weird thing– It helped! Did it magically fix my wrist again? No. But it did make the pain subside a bit. It reminded me that I don’t have to be focused on my deficit. By focusing on my abundance, I’m training myself to see more abundance.
Kinda like if you bought a Jeep, and then you automatically started seeing a bunch more Jeeps on the road. It’s not because there are suddenly a ton of Jeeps in the neighborhood, it’s because your perspective has changed.
By whispering gratitude to myself, I actually helped myself. Feel stronger, better, dare I say– Happier?
And you guessed it, it even worked at the gym.
“Thank you lungs for making me able to jump rope without any breathing difficulty”
“Thank you butt muscles for making these kettle bell swings so easy.”
“Thank you hamstrings for making my squat so deep.”
These are all things at the gym that I have some trouble with usually. But when I tried the new MANIFESTATION WHISPERS OF GRATITUDE instead of the old, negative ones, I found everything got easier, quicker, and better. Like, for realz.
And ya heard it here first folks–I didn’t use my inhaler after I jumped rope that day.
So what does it all mean? Well, I don’t know. But here are the things I learned. Talking smack about myself, even in whispers, made everything I set out to accomplish THAT MUCH HARDER.
Whispering words of gratitude, thanking anything and everything for giving me my heart’s desire, made everything BETTER. And I actually accomplished and/or received most of what I was seeking too.
And if I have to whisper something to myself, I’d rather it be the latter, ya know?
“Thank you brain, for being so smart and compassionate.”
“Thank you brain for thinking such great and powerful thoughts.”