Think about all of the criticism you tell yourself on a daily basis. Do you find yourself saying you can’t, you shouldn’t, you aren’t good enough? It’s so crazy how we all tell ourselves these things but would never say the same things to a friend, a family member, a significant other. I find that I try to be as encouraging as possible when talking to others but then sometimes I look in the mirror and say the exact opposite to myself. Is this you too?
Growing up, I was always raised that you strive for the A. It’s the highest possible grade, and anything lower would mean I have royally screwed up and that I’m not smart. Part of this was self-inflicted negativity because, well, perfection. Part of it was the pressures of being raised in a traditional Asian household – I’m sure some of you know what this is like. Regardless, as an adult, I still find that if I’m not perfect, then that means I’ve failed.
I had a weird, yet enlightening, moment a few days ago when I was teaching an indoor cycling class. I walked out of the class knowing that I had perhaps missed a couple of cues but overall, felt that the class went well, saw people sweating massively (great sign for a truly intense workout), and people said “thank you” afterwards which always feels really amazing to get acknowledgement.
However, the feedback I received was very…to the point. I believe the word “cold” was used and anyone that knows me knows that cold is the last thing I am. I’m actually known, in my group of friends, as being too high energy, too friendly. So to hear this feedback, I took it hard. I was telling myself, “I’m not cut out for this,” “I’m not good enough,” “Why did I even try out to become an instructor?”. Totally forgetting as to the main reasons why I love indoor cycling. I was focusing so much on the more critical points of feedback and not putting enough stock in myself to the good, really great aspects of my ride.
I know I’m good at motivating people in class. One of my purposes and passions in life is to help inspire and motivate others as much as possible, which is why I wanted to become an instructor in the first place. I’m also really good at giving people recognition in class. When I see someone working hard, I like to acknowledge that. It takes a really mentally strong person to come to any workout class and really push themselves to the limit. See, there are definitely areas I excel at. But I found myself doubting my capabilities and the type of person I am at my core.
There may be a variety of reasons as to why we are so negative and harsh on ourselves but what’s most important in this vicious cycle we put ourselves in – is that we must STOP. Here are some questions I ask myself as I learn to undo the negative self talk. I’m not always successful but it definitely helps put situations into perspective:
- Am I interpreting an opinion and making it fact? Someone describing me as one way does not mean that that is the truth. That is one person’s opinion. Fact is that I am not defined by others’ beliefs of me.
- Is there another way you can interpret the situation? If you find yourself being negative – knowing it is negative – ask yourself if there is another, more positive way to interpret the situation.
- Was this the worst possible thing that could happen? Simply, no. In a year will that piece of feedback really, truly matter? There will be bumps in every new situation you put yourself in but what’s cool about life, is that there’s balance and for any bump there will also be some really awesome things that happen to you too. Just make sure you are looking out for them!
So the next time you find yourself in a “woe is me” type of situation, please try to take a moment for yourself, gain perspective, and ask yourself the above questions. I hope it helps you! Remember that you are enough as you are and don’t let others, even yourself, tell you otherwise. 🙂