Caveat: if you’re a guy reading this, simply imagine your inner mean guy or the vile arse that lives upstairs.
Who’s your worst enemy?
Likely it’s you. Yep. You.
How many times has the voice in your head grumbled:
- how could you possibly have something to teach anybody?
- no one will be interested to what you have to say
- everyone is smarter than you
- (fill in the blank with some other negative, self-deprecating comments)________________________
The voice in your head is what Amy Ahler calls our inner mean girl. She’s also what Christine Comaford, in her book Rules for Renegades, colourfully calls the vile bitch that lives upstairs. Whether you call her your mean girl or your vile bitch, we all have one. It’s the voice that undercuts our success, that holds us back for fear of failure, that expects every opportunity to turn sour.
It’s the voice that ‘awfulizes‘.
Make one tiny mistake and it swoops in predicting dire calamities at every turn. You’re going to end up on the streets naked because no one will pay you for your work, you won’t be able to even afford clothes, you will be featured in a 5 page spread in Time Magazine …. as the world’s biggest looser and you’ll die alone and heartbroken.
That my friend is ‘awfulizing’ and its author is your inner mean girl.
Don’t get me wrong, there is an inner voice that is helpful and wise. The difference is that voice comes from a place of wanting to help, wanting us to succeed rather than reveling in falling flat on our faces.
Amy Ahler encourages folks to draw their inner mean girl. Get really specific and get to know her. Find out what makes her tick. And I’ll add, to find out when it’s your inner mean girl (or vile bitch) talking and when it’s your sage voice of wisdom.
As trainers we need to brush off this invited guest. Interrupt the negative self talk. When I hear my own negative self talk I literally imagine brushing this interloper off of my shoulder, interrupting any nastiness she’s trying to whisper in my ear. I feel lighter when she’s gone and better able to focus.
We’ve got enough to worry about as learning and development specialists. The last thing we need is to let ourselves listen to nasty put-downs masquerading as sweet nothings.
Go on. Brush her off. I’ll hand you the broom.