Tuesday, March 24, 2009


3 a: an act or process tending to hamper or hurt b: deliberate subversion

What types of things do you say to yourself during the day? When you're alone with your thoughts, are you kind or unkind? Do you encourage yourself as you attempt something new or do you sabotage your efforts even as you begin?

I've been trying to give up negative self-talk for lent. I gave up chocolate for lent several years ago and, let me tell you, this is much, much harder. When I catch myself saying awful, hateful things in my head, I tell myself to stop. It comes at the expected times (when I lose my temper with my girls) and at unexpected times (while mopping). It's getting a bit easier to identify and quiet the voice. At least I've made myself aware of when and how often I do this to myself.

But today I realized my inner saboteur is getting sneaky. Since I quiet the outright insults, I now hear subtle lies that have the same result - a less confident, more doubtful me. Today I saw an acquaintance. Instead of just talking to her, I was hesitant because I was tired and didn't feel like talking. There wasn't anything inherently wrong with this choice. But my inner voice told me as I observed this acquaintance chatting with some other women, "See, she has plenty of friends already." Instead of coming right out and telling me that this person didn't want to talk to me, my inner voice made a snide observation aimed to hamper potential future friendship. Only later did I realize this was a moment of sabotage.

As a part of my creativity group, we're examining where our creativity has been bruised in the past. It's been incredibly difficult to come up with specific instances because I self-sabotaged any creative efforts for decades. But where did I learn to talk to myself this way?
Where do the voices of others merge with my own voice? When did I start telling myself the things I thought other people were thinking? Are my daughters (ages 9, 7 and 4) already telling themselves lies?

Our assignment this week is to write a letter to that inner voice that tell us lies. I think I'll start mine "Dear Saboteur..."


Variations On A Theme said...

Oh. I know this so well. Mine uses harsh expletives. It most often says, "F... you!" No, not just says it, rather SHOUTS it at me, which sometimes inadvertantly comes out of my mouth, which makes me wonder if I have tourettes or something.

I try to keep it in check, but I've actually said it to myself a few times when the kids are around. It was under-my-breath enough that Olivia only noticed once, asking, "What did you say?"

"Oh, nothing...Hey! Do you want a cookie?"

Isabella said...

This is a battle I fight every day as well. Thanks for writing this (and for commenting on my earlier post). It really helps to know that I'm not the only one who struggles with this!

MommySecrets said...

I really appreciate your thoughts on sabotage. It's a huge battle for women and a huge battle for me. And a totally perfect thing to practice sacrificing during lent. Thanks for your vulnerability.

I was also thrilled to discover your other two blogs - you've been a busy woman!