During the school year I am up most weekdays at 5 am. I get my kids up and off to school, and then head to the bathroom to get my game face on for the day. I intentionally avoid my bedroom on the way. Most days I make it. But sometimes, if I am not careful, the lure of the soft down duvet and perfect side sleeper pillow, the warmth of the blankets and temptation to hop back in and spoon for a while with my snoozing hubs draws me in. If I succumb to the temptation, the outcome is always the same. Since I am already up and awake, sleep is not my foe. My phone is! I grab it, read a spiritual thought, start answering emails, then check social media. Poof! Two (or more) hours of my life vanish and the only trace that it ever existed lies on my phone’s screen time log. Does any of this sound familiar?
In my last blog post I talked about perspective. Perspective offers clarity, drives motivation, grants patience and delivers peace. Perspective has the power to bring more success and satisfaction (S²) into our lives. However, a negative perspective kills productivity. So what does perspective have to do with a morning routine and the temptation to choose spending time doing things that are just bubblegum for the brain?
Perspective impacts productivity. Perspective and productivity are reciprocal— meaning that each is performed in return of the other. If you have a clear perspective about something, it delivers you motivation to move on your vision, so productivity increases! If your perspective is clouded by self-doubt or self-loathing, productivity decreases. So, here’s the bottom line. Perspective leads to self-talk and what you say to yourself impacts your productivity. If you beat yourself up for not being perfect or make excuses for not doing something you say you want to do, or if you have given up on something because somebody else told you it would be too hard, then you NEED the strategy I am about to share with you. It will help you get out of your limiting thoughts and move forward to becoming the productive S² person you want to be.
First, let’s give negative self-talk a name.
In Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity, she speaks of Nigel, her inner critic. She describes Nigel as someone whose standards she can never live up to. When she attempts anything the critic slyly whispers “Who do you think you are?” If she does something well once and attempts again, Nigel gets louder. “You’re a one hit wonder!” Cameron teaches that in our heads, Nigel keeps getting louder and more vicious if we allow it. She insists the key is to not try to remove the critic, but learn to live with it, while keeping it at bay. After reading Cameron’s book, I adopted the same name—Nigel for my inner critic.
My friend Rachel Sorber, an accomplished artist, drew a powerful depiction (above) of an inner critic blurting out negativity. It’s a scary sight! Can you imagine what your own inner critic would look like? What name would you assign it? Picturing it and giving it a name so you can banish it -when it rears its ugly head is a powerful strategy to stand up to the damaging scripts your inner critic thrusts at you!
Introducing the strategy— “So what now?”…
- When you hear your inner critic spewing negativity, picture a stop sign. See the familiar red octagon in your mind’s eye.
- Think to yourself, “(Name of Your Inner Critic) STOP!”
- Replace negative or self-loathing thoughts with these three words:
“So what now?” These words are your cue to look ahead with positivity, committed to creating a productive outcome.
Situation: Amy just realized she spent 3 hours on social media when she needed to be doing XYZ. Amy’s self-talk (Inner Critic): “OMG you suck. You are never going to be able to finish XYZ now! You are so behind you’ll never get XYZ done.”
Response: Looking around and feeling overwhelmed, Amy’s inner critic demoralizes her again. “You’re already so behind! Why bother starting at all?” Resigned, Amy picks her phone up again and taps the Instagram app.
Situation: Same as above
Response: Amy realizes her inner critic is spewing negativity. She silently shouts “STOP! Not today (Inner Critic’s Name). Then as a cue to choose positivity and productivity, Amy asks herself: “So what now?” She reevaluates the time she has left to finish XYZ and commits to a focused hustle, free from distractions and taking steps towards accomplishing her stated goal.
Use the “So what now?” strategy every time your personal critic sounds off in your head. Use it when you get distracted with anything that steals your time. Use it when others point out your flaws, when you make a mistake, or when you are tempted to beat yourself up about anything. This strategy will keep positivity in your perspective and increase your productivity. Most importantly, it will encourage you to grant yourself the grace you deserve on your quest to become S².