It is in our faults and failings, not in our virtues, that we touch each other, and find sympathy. It is in our follies that we are one.
– Jerome K. Jerome
Last semester I had a client who was talking about how a close friend seemed to be taking an interest in her, but she wouldn’t let herself believe it. Even though she wanted to believe that someone could find her attractive and desirable. Part of that whole undeserving thing I talked about in a previous post.
Lately I’ve been trying to help clients come up with mantras to counteract their inner critics. In this case, her inner critic kept saying, “Why me?” Why would he like me? What do I have to offer? To which I replied, “Why not you?”
So this became her mantra. And I liked it so much, it has become one of mine, as well. Along with other mantras that I have come up with to counter my inner critic. Here are a few of them:
1. Why not me? This mantra now replaces the oft-repeated “Who do you think you are?” To think that you can find the one decent guy who is not in a relationship. To think that you can find an agent. A publisher. Readers. To think that you can improve your rating in tennis.
Other people do it. It’s not beyond the realm of possibilities. Might as well tell myself this instead and see what happens.
2. Everything’s going to be OK. This may sound overly Pollyanish to some, but for me it is a source of comfort. After all, this is what we say to babies and children to calm them down. And as you know, I am a new parent, just beginning to learn how to soothe my inner infant.
3. I’m doing the best that I can. This is to counteract my inner critic’s relentless evaluation that I suck. I can’t function without sleep like “normal” people. I can’t make it through a semester without crashing and burning unless I vigilantly focus on taking care of myself. My blog isn’t widely read. I can’t cook. I throw up when I play tennis. I don’t make enough money.
But I really am trying. And I’m trying to be OK with effort rather than results.
4. The purpose of life isn’t to be productive. I was sick for my entire vacation this week. Five days in my house doing nothing but watching bowl games and knitting. No steps. No meals with friends. No tennis. No New Year’s celebrations.
My drill sergeant has tried to bully me into being productive, admittedly with some success. But for the most part, I’ve been able to tell myself that my only task at the moment is to get better. To rest. To care for myself. Regardless of what other people do when they’re sick. My life is worthwhile, whether I get my laundry done or not.
5. I’m just like everyone else. No better, no worse. I’m still a recovering perfectionist, but recovery is progressing quite nicely. Through blogging I have found that the kindness I receive in sharing my perceived flaws means as much to me as the compliments I get from my perceived successes.
So what’s your mantra? If you don’t have any, feel free to borrow mine if they help!