Earlier this week my “little voice” was in a foul mood. I said things to myself that I certainly wouldn’t say to a friend. Based on my work schedule, I arise at 4:30 am each weekday morning to allow myself time to practice a mindfulness meditation and exercise.
This past Monday, I woke up with the feeling that someone had loaded my body with lead. I could definitely relate to the saying, “I dragged myself out of bed.” After my mindfulness exercise, it was time to exercise my body but I felt like I couldn’t move. That’s when the inner critic took over. “Come on, get up!” she said. I could almost see her shaking her imaginary finger at me. I silently and meekly responded, “I don’t know if I can.” “Of course you can” she retorted, “it’s only a few minutes of exercise. You’re just being lazy. And this is why you’ve never reached your health goals; and you never will.”
At that moment, I realized what was happening. Remembering the concept of self-parenting with compassion in the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating program, I searched for a kinder example of how to talk to myself. It came as a memory from one of my dearest friends, Laura. Here’s the scenario which I found to be a splendid example of loving, nurturing parenting.
She told her daughter, who was around 3 years of age at the time, “It’s time to go inside.” “No, Mommy, I don’t want to.” “I know, we’ve had fun playing and now it’s getting dark.” “No, Mommy, I want to play some more.” Laura held her daughter’s hand, opened the door, and led her inside. “It is time for your bath, do you want bubbles?” “Yeah.” “How about your purple pajamas tonight? “I want to wear my red ones.” “What story shall we read?”
I practiced her technique for myself. Here’s how it played out… “It’s time to exercise.” “I don’t know if I can.” “I know, some mornings it is hard, and now it is time to align your actions with your value for optimal health.” “I would really rather just sit here.” Standing up, “Would you prefer tai chi rather than aerobics this morning?” “Yeah.” “Put on your workout clothes now. What is the least amount of time you’ll commit to tai chi this morning.” “I’ll commit to at least 10 minutes.” As a result of practicing this more compassionate inner dialog, Monday evening I was able to congratulate myself for practicing tai chi for 20 minutes, taking the longer walking route between the parking garage and my office (and back again), and choosing to walk to the eating area further away from my office for lunch.
Maybe I didn’t climb any physical mountains, but I do see it as conquering a mental one.