Sometimes – not often, but sometimes – I have Bad Days.
These are days when the usual voice of reason is there somewhere in the background, like, “Heeeeey, heeey girl….,” but it’s getting totally drowned out by this onslaught of constant self-criticism. Things I would never dream of saying to another human being just expand and fill my head like a thick fog. It’s horrendous.
I think most people probably have days like this to some extent. I think that’s just the human condition, and there’s not a whole lot that you can do about it really. Sometimes those doubts and insecurities and straight-up fears start crawling up your leg and before you know it, their needle-sharp claws are digging into the sensitive skin of your inner thigh and you just. can’t. shake. them. off.
Some days are worse than others though, and my Bad Days are… pretty bad.
I grew up in an environment of what I suppose could be called ‘constructive criticism,’ although often it was just your regular, run-of-the-mill, own-brand criticism. Don’t be alarmed, I’m not about to delve into the pros and cons of critical parenting here, constructive or otherwise. I would just like to point out that as a grown adult of admittedly questionable adulting abilities, to this day I still hear those criticisms. They are the safety net that my self-criticisms fall into when I knock them off their perch with a deftly placed ‘don’t be ridiculous.’ So for example, the conversation of the inner mind goes a bit like this:
Self-criticism: You are useless.
Me: Don’t be ridiculous.
Self-criticism falls a few steps back, grabs a memory from the past, drags it into the light and shoves it under my nose.
Self-criticism: You are useless. You see? I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO THINKS THIS. I HAVE BACK UP. THIS IS PROOF!
…And just like that, I’m outnumbered.
Words matter. When you say them matters. How you use them matters. Whether you use words to manipulate (I see you, Spicer), or use words to make your voice heard at a time when you feel helpless, or use them to criticise, or even use them to support someone who needs a boost… they matter. That’s the wonderful thing about words – they’re spoken, or typed, or written, or signed, and then they’re out there taking on a life of their own, to be used and interpreted and felt by the person who’s hearing them. You have no control over them once they’re out. You cannot take them back. They can’t be erased or expunged. They can only be forgotten, and that’s not something you have control over.
Sometimes though, sometimes they can be drowned out. Sometimes hateful words or false words or bitter words can be drowned out by other words. Better words. Loving words. We saw that on Saturday when millions of people took to the streets with all their words and made some serious noise, shouting down the words of division and bigotry that have been all too prevalent over the past few months.
I’ve decided to take a leaf from their book. I’ve see their success and it gives me hope for the years that are coming. I see them drown out the Bad Day of the inauguration, and it helps me come up with the perfect plan for how to deal with my own Bad Days:
I’m going to hand my voice of reason a megaphone so she can properly drown out my bitchy self-criticisms.