Don't Be So Hard On Yourself
Every morning, Brian Johnson and his groovy team at en*theos send me their daily newsletter. I admittedly do not always have time open it every single day but if I ever need a 5 minute burst of inspiration I know I can count on them.
Back near the middle of December 2014, the daily newsletter had a passage from the book The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma. I have not yet read this book, only parts of the en*theos Philosopher’s Note, but this short segment really stood out.
"If you want to live life to the fullest, care for your thoughts as you would your most prized possessions. Work hard to remove all inner turbulence. The rewards will be abundant."
Why is this so profound?
Most, if not all of our issues and challenges are self-induced. And I’d bet a lot of this comes from our own negative self talk. It’s ridiculous to think about how we talk to ourselves sometimes. We can be so mean and so cruel saying things we’d never dare say to another. And yet, here we are directing this very energy at ourselves. How could you ever think this would be productive?
I’m not talking about being genuinely and honestly critical of what’s working and what is not. Those internal dialogues should ideally be done neutrally with our judgments of good vs. bad or right vs. wrong put to the side.
The only thing that matters is what brings us closer to our goals and what pushes us further away.
Also in Brian’s write up about this quote was an additional quote by none other than the Buddha;
“More than those who hate you, more than all your enemies, an undisciplined mind does greater harm.”
Bruh. How can you argue with that? If you aren’t in control of your own mind, your own thoughts, then how can you truly expect to have any semblance of control in any other facet of your life?
Worried this might be you? Don’t be. For one, this, like anything else is neither good nor bad. Although I don’t know your situation, I think it’s safe to say is that if this does speak to you then it’s highly unlikely this way of thinking is bringing you any closer to your goals. It is not serving you, that's all. Recognize this and let’s plow forward. Here’s how:
Awareness - First and foremost, we need to recognize what is happening. This entire write up may or may not be for you but you’ll never know until you pay attention. Don’t spend hours upon hours trying to figure out your internal dialogue but begin paying attention to the conversation. What are you actually saying to yourself? Are you being genuinely loving and supportive or, to put it bluntly, are you being an internal asshole? “A consciousness of wrongdoing is the first step to salvation… you have to catch yourself doing it before you can correct it.” ~ Seneca from Letters from a Stoic
Create a little distance - Once you’re able to notice what you’re saying to yourself, take a few metaphorical steps back. A great way to do this is to is by giving a name to this negative voice in your head. Preferably something completely unrelated to your own name. That way, just like the negative person you pay no attention to, this is now something you can do to the voice in your head. You’ll have to have mastered the awareness aspect first but once you do and create a little distance, you’ll be on your way.
Surround yourself with groovy people - Find people who have had success conquering their inner beast. These people aren’t necessarily immune from negativity; none of us are. But spending time with positive, uplifting people could change everything. If there’s any truth to the saying that you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with then I’m sure this is no exception.
Gratitude - Really this is just focusing on something else. Again, once you are aware of what is happening you are now in control and can choose what happens next. I’ve begun adding a gratitude and appreciate aspect to my morning meditation practice. Every morning I think about 5 - 10 things I’m grateful for in my life. It can be something simple or it can be deep. Doesn’t matter. Shifting your focus on something you appreciate makes it very challenging to keep your mind on any kind of negative mess.
Now, what are your favorite ways to quiet the inner turmoil?
Thanks for reading.
P.S. If you know anyone that would enjoy reading this, please share it with them!