My inner voice can be a real jerk.

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It’s true. My inner voice – the one I hear in my head nearly every waking minute of my day? She can be a total jerk . . . and sometimes she sounds a lot like Joan Jett. Or a lot like what I would sound like singing Joan Jett.

See, somewhere along my forever-long journey of gaining and losing and fighting and hating weight, I came up with a catchy little tune to sing when I realize I’m losing the battle. It’s sung to the tune of “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” and it goes like this:

I hate myself for loving food.
Can’t break free from the things that I do.
I wanna walk, but I run back to you.
That’s why I hate myself for loving food.

I know, you’re stunned by songwriting skills, right?

No, that’s not an original little ditty, but even worse, it’s incredibly cruel. And I do it to myself.

I don’t hear that song every day, and I truly don’t hear it nearly as often as I used to. I’ve been intentional about my self talk for the past few years, and I’m getting better at recognizing when I’m beating myself up verbally – and stopping. [Dear close friends and family, I said I’m getting better not that I’m completely cured of the habit.]

Anytime I’ve heard a sermon or presentation about self-talk, the point is always made that some of us talk to ourselves worse and uglier than we would ever dare talk to another person. Some of the things I’ve said to or about myself I might not even say about my cats!

I really have been working on it for a while, though. And overall, I think I do a pretty good job of refraining from cutting myself down out loud or internally. After going through the Bible study, Me, Myself & Lies, I learned to change a pattern I’d had for years. Anytime I’d mess up, whether making a simple mistake or committing a grievous sin, I’d say to myself, in my head, “Ahhh! You’re so stupid!”

That’s not true. I’m not stupid. And since going through that Bible study, that’s exactly what I say, often out loud, when that thought slips back in. “No, I’m not stupid. I’m a smart person who made a mistake.”

Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m just one self-help book away from turning into an SNL sketch. “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”

Picturing myself giving that little pep talk to the me in the mirror is ridiculous – but I’m not [too] embarrassed to share this with you. Couldn’t we all use a few more encouraging words and a little less criticism?

Despite my progress in much of my self-talk habits, I still struggle with this in regard to my weight. Thanks to enough psychology classes for a college minor, I know that part of my struggle stems from my high internal locus of control. In the deepest, truest part of me, I believe that my life is within my control, that my life is the result of my choices. So if something in my life is going wrong (aka, my clothes don’t fit), I’m the one to blame.

Cue the Joan Jett impression.

No, wait! Don’t cue anyone unless it’s goofy old Stuart Smalley. Because I’m ready to give up on this inner voice of mine. She’s rude, and I don’t like her anymore. So I’m going to replace the ugly, critical words with ones that are encouraging and actually create change.

I’m intentionally changing my inner dialogue, and I’m saying these things to myself instead:

Great job choosing a healthy snack!
You chose the right hard today.
That’s okay. Start over right now.
Half an hour on the treadmill is better than nothing.
That was a good start!
It won’t be long before you can do the whole video.
Nobody is perfect. Just try it again tomorrow.

It’s not as catchy as a Joan Jett song, but I’m working on it. Maybe, “I love myself for eating fruit! It’s healthy like veggies but easier to chew . . .”

No? Fine. I’ll keep working on it.

Until then, I would love to hear about your inner voice. Is she kind, forgiving? Or harsh and critical? Does she sound like an 80s rocker or perhaps your mother or your seventh-grade English teacher? Do you need to rewrite her script and add in a little Stuart Smalley?

Who does your inner voice sound like?

{Photo by floeschie}

Comments

  1. chelleybutton says:

    My inner voice is definitely not kind and forgiving toward me. ;) And I don’t actively think better thoughts or talk to myself more positively like you’re doing. Well, maybe I do a little and just don’t realize it. Because I do use the “something is better than nothing” one. I also try to remind myself of things I have already accomplished, positive things people have said to/about me, etc. But we’re not alone! Right off the bat I thought of Pink’s song, “Don’t Let Me Get Me” (or whatever the title is; you know the one) and that song I posted a while back, “According to You” — I think the “you” lyrics could be applied to “self” and the “him” lyrics could be applied to God. And really, He’s a lot more right than we are, I’d say. :) If He says we’re worth dying for, we are. :) Keep up the great work, Mary! >:D<

  2. Marcia Hron says:

    Thank you for the timely reminder to monitor the jerk that I have come to know as my “inner voice”. This is a life-long effort in “retraining”. God Bless . . .

  3. I will never hear that song the same way again – your lyrics are totally THE LYRICS now.

    As for the inner voice … boy howdy, I hear you. Mine is mean, mean, mean. I would never, ever talk that way to anyone else … but somehow, I’m different.

    I like to believe that I am capable of having an inner voice who is Cher. You know, tough, but kind? Capable of both ballads and dance hits. And, of course, she’d wear Bob Mackie, all the time.

    But, like you said, it’s a process. Cher hasn’t shown up yet, but I do have moments of Kathy Griffin. I’m getting closer.

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      Tough but kind Cher would be awesome. I mean, really, who doesn’t need the occasional “snap out of it!”

  4. I will DEFINITELY be getting that book by Jennifer. I have a sarcastic bent to my humor anyway so when turned on myself, it would be enough to make a marine sargeant blush! You know how it is, not only does the voice in my head shred me to bits but then when I get a compliment from a family member, friend or stranger, if I’m not careful, my true feelings come out in a very uncomplimentary way.

    Them: “You look so pretty today.” Me: “Really? Thank you but maybe you want to borrow my glasses because I think you missed that last eye doctor appointment.”

    I have tried to learn to keep my lips tightly zipped and only allowing the words, “Thank you” with a forced accompanying smile. Some days I’m good and others…well, not so hot.

    It aggravates and annoys people immensely and I do truly realize that. Psalm 139:14 says that I am fearfully & wonderfully made but I admit to being forever enthroned in the Pre-K grouping on that verse.

    However, God is always good and I’m working on it! Your post was a blessing because it has been one of those weeks and I was avoiding that thought process.

    Thanks for always posting great thoughts!

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      Linda, I have a friend who deflects compliments so much that it became a joke between us…until I realized that I do the same thing. Even things like responding to “That’s a nice shirt,” with “Oh, yeah, I just got it at Walmart.” WHY Is it so hard to simply say “thank you”?? You’re right – we ARE wonderfully made. That verse is such a great one to meditate on every single day!

  5. Mary. I love you. Seriously, what a fabulous vulnerable post.

    The church I interned at (and then the our first church plant, too) really taught about the power of our words. I know people can go overboard (and that’s where people freak about about Ostein and name-it-claim-it, etc.) but the Bible is clear: our tongue has the power of life and death! We can choose to speak HIS THOUGHTS concerning us or we can speak the devil’s lies. It’s that simple (or hard, whichever!) ;)

    I am with you, Mary. I have to control my thoughts and make them obedient to Christ and His Word. I want God’s Word growing in my life. And my words (well, more technically, His words from MY mouth) can help them grow.

    {And on another, non-spiritual and kinda creepy note, did you ever see The Emperor’s New Groove? The villain, Isme says she wants to take the Emperor, turn him into a bug, put him in a box and then put him into a shipping box and then mail it to herself and when it arrives, she will SMASH IT WITH A HAMMER. For some unknown reason, I think of that image when I have a particularly mean inner thought pushing inside me. I basically put it in a box and smash it with a hammer. }

    {After that strange look into my mind, can we still be friends?}

    :)

    a

  6. Kimberly says:

    Having a daughter with anxiety issues has really showed me how much farther I need to go on the self-talk thing. I thought I was doing pretty good, but when I had to activily start creating her self-talk for her, I realized that I was not saying the same things to myself. And everything I tell her is true! For both her and me! Of course God loves us even when we fail. Of course, we’ll laugh about some embarrasing moment in the future. Not new, but apparently something I need to work on.

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      Kimberly, I don’t know how many times the words I say or read to my daughter are actually (or should be) directed at ME. Just one more way I learn from my kiddo…

  7. I love this post. Thanks for keeping it real. My inner voice sounds a lot like me, just much meaner. It uses words that end in “a$$” a lot.

    • Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says:

      Haha! I mean, no, that’s not funny. {But, um, it totally is…}

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  1. [...] in her ear or her heart. Negative self talk is toxic; we all know this. But keeping That Jerk (what I lovely call my critical inner voice) squashed is hard . . . and sometimes she sneaks back in. And before you know it, the mean girl [...]