I’m a Type A - achievement oriented individual and I’m incredibly hard on myself. I mean really hard - like you would never want to get in my head and hear my self talk. It’s quite appalling actually how unkind I can be to myself all with the so called veil of being better.
I have an internal critic that likes to use a proverbial stick to beat me up. To push me to be better than I was yesterday and it’s a relentless voice that has me feeling guilty for even taking a day to do nothing other than just be.
I’m a perfectionist by nature and I find myself nitpicking on the imperfections I see in how I live my life, how I spend each day - frustrated about not being efficient enough with my time or for being as productive as I believe I should be. This inner critical voice I have demands I pay attention to the time that’s slipping through my fingers and asks more of me for every single moment.
This voice is relentless and exhausting. This voice is sucking the joy out of my life.
Do you recognise this voice? Do you have one that is saying similar things to you? It’s a pretty awful when you let this voice rule over your life don’t you find?
If you’re self-employed this is a voice you’ll recognise very well. It seems to come with the territory but it does significantly more harm than good.
Imagine being physically beaten with a stick every single day - it’s damaging to not only your physical body but to your emotional and mental energy. Being beaten everyday would be enough to break anyone’s spirit - how could you see a possibility of a great life when you are being beaten every single day?
As an intellectually and emotionally intelligent individual I’ve managed somehow to let this voice rule over me - sucking the energy out of me. It’s been killing me bit by bit, a slow and painful death. Painful because my mental and emotional energy fuel tank has been running dangerously close to empty but the voice inside my head never quietens, it demands I push on and work harder and harder.
This my friends, is what a one way ticket to burn out looks like.
Thankfully for me I’m aware. Thankfully for me I am reading the warning signs but I’m also very conscious that simply knowing this is not enough - I have to stop the critical voice from continuing to have power over me.
This week I had the last workshop for a female leaders program I have been running for the last few months and the storytelling from the participants in the session left no dry eye in the room. The heartfelt truths these leaders shared and the courage to be vulnerable was incredibly moving. They shared stories of personal adversities and how they had used the tools and the community created throughout the program to help them, they rallied together and the trust in the room for them share so openly was incredible.
As I reflected on the session on my way home I finally did something that I know I struggle to do - I let the inner coach speak louder - I gave myself acknowledgement for the role I played in having the workshop come to life. I acknowledged myself for creating a safe space for others, for bringing all of myself to the table so they could bring themselves too. Sometimes I fear that I’m too open, putting out my imperfect self for others to see, but when I see the impact of being a truth-teller, I know, no matter how confronting it is, that it is the right thing to do to enable others to grow.
My heart is full for allowing myself to see the impact I’ve had on others and I very clearly understand that if I continue to let the inner critic speak so loudly, to beat me up daily, not only is burn out very very probable but so is the loss of the value others get from me being well.
SO, as hard as it is - I’m giving myself a break this weekend and I’m doing things that bring me joy, that aren’t about achievement or being productive. I’m watching pointless tv and I’m taking time to sleep and re-charge. (I’m also going to book a much needed holiday).
So if any of what I have shared resonates, take sometime to see yourself clearly and know that you are needed. Trust me you are needed my friend.
Let the inner critic help you be better but please do not let its voice speak the loudest - you have a gift to give the world so don’t let it be beaten out of you before you have the chance to share.