The biggest obstacle to quieting the voice of the Monger is the belief that without the Monger (inner critic) you will be an unmotivated sloth who accomplishes nothing. In this episode, I discuss how to quiet your inner critic AND accomplish everything you desire.
Hi, and welcome. You are listening to The Happiness Hacks Podcast. I’m your host, Nancy Jane Smith. I’m a licensed professional counselor, and in this podcast, I share my stories, lessons, and hacks I’ve learned, and I continue to learn on my quest to live happier. This is episode 60 called, “Without my Monger, I Won’t get Anything Done.”
It’s a beautiful Monday, and I am here to talk about our mongers. Mongers is my term for the inner critic, and I have found that the number one reason we struggle with dealing with our mongers, is that idea that we find them motivating. There is a secret belief that a lot of us have, and I was included in this camp, that without our mongers we wouldn’t get anything done. We need that voice in our heads to constantly be telling us how behind we are, how much we’re going to mess up, how much of a failure we are, how slow we are, how much of a loser we are. We constantly need that voice to motivate us to do more.
It’s hard to want to get rid of your monger that you hate, because you find it shaming, and belittling, and it makes you feel bad about yourself, and it increases stress ten fold, and it makes just feel a lot of overwhelm, and exhaustion, and anxiety. But at the same time, as we want to get rid of that anxiety, we also have bought into the idea that without it, we would be on the couch as a lump; we wouldn’t get anything done. We believe that the motivation of that shaming and belittling is the key.
That is why all the time, all the work I’ve done with inner critic and mongers of the year, and the number one thing people say is, “Be kind to yourself. Be kind to yourself. Be your own best friend.” For me, that was, did not work. My best friend always gives me a pass. My best friend can justify anything that I want to do, any bad behavior I want to have. My best friend is on board; she is ready to blow off work, she’s ready to blow off the exercise class. She is game for anything and is great at justifying all the behaviors that I’m trying to change in my life.
When everybody would say, you know, all the gurus and all the experts would say, “Okay, if you don’t want to get rid of this inner critic, you need to challenge that constant love voice.” To me that was so confusing because the constant love voice was just, it was too scary to go that far. To go all the way into the constant love was just a little too freaky, cause I didn’t trust that if I went to the pure love of myself, that I would get anything done. My whole life I’ve bought into this idea that the only way to achieve, is to hammer yourself, and to be belittling, and beat yourself up. The only way to counter that then is to be 100%, to give yourself 100% love, and 100% of a pass, and those two things were just too far apart in my life. It was just too much to go there.
What I have developed and what I came up with for my life was what if I combined the two? What if I took the best traits of my monger, which is that it motivates me. The best traits of my monger is it knows what we need to do next. It knows where we need to go. If I want to feel better in my body, and feel better about how I look and such, my monger knows. “Well we need to workout, we need to watch what we eat.” It knows the rules. It’s message for getting me to follow the rules, quote/unquote, “Not helpful.” The tone is not helpful. What it’s sometimes saying can be helpful. What I have found is by taking the message of the monger, and taking off the shaming and belittling piece, and adding in the love piece that comes from the self-compassion, and 100% love for yourself. Pulling those two traits together creates what I have found, call the, “Biggest fan.”
The biggest fan can be motivating without the shaming and belittling. A great example of this for me is right now; I have gotten out of shape. I think I’ve talked about this before. I’ve gotten out of shape, and something I valued was being in shape, and being able to do whatever anyone was up for. I could ride my bike; I could hike, I could do anything. As I’ve gotten older and I’ve had a couple of injuries, that have stopped me. I’m not as in shape as I used to be.
The message of my biggest fan, the message of my monger, let’s do that one first. The message of my monger is that I am a middle aged out of shape woman. “How could you let yourself go like this?” And, “How could you let yourself become this.” And even nastier talk comes from my monger about this subject. My super compassionate person, the super love is like, “You look great however you look. It doesn’t matter; you’re fine. It’s beautiful; you’re beautiful, you’re beautiful.” In truth, “Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,” isn’t really how I want to be feeling. I want to be back in shape.
We need a little motivation, but I don’t want to be motivated by the fact that I’m a loser, or I’m overweight, or that I look bad, or I’m middle aged, or whatever the motivational piece the monger’s going to use. To combine both of those together and take the best traits of both is to say, “Okay sweetheart. Yeah, you are middle aged. Yeah, you are out of shape. We can change that. It can happen. All you need to do is recognize how much better your body feels when you move it.” By giving myself the love of these things are true, and that doesn’t mean you’re a terrible person. It doesn’t mean you’re bad or evil; it just means this stuff’s true. We have to acknowledge the truth. That’s the motivational piece; we have to acknowledge the truth, with love and kindness.
I can say, “Hey, yeah. You are middle aged.” That’s a fact. “You are overweight.” That’s a fact. You are out of shape, “That’s a fact.” I can choose what to do with those. Right now what I’m choosing to do is to say, “You know what? I am overweight. I love my body, and I love not worrying about what I eat. I spent too many years obsessing about food and obsessing about what I looked like, so I’m done with that. But what I love is being able to move my body whenever I want to.” That’s something I’m going to work on, is getting back in shape so that I can move my body.
See, that motivational piece is so different. This morning when I wake up, and I don’t want to workout, and I think, “Oh, just think how much better you feel when you move your body.” That gets me downstairs into our gym to workout. The idea that I’m overweight, middle-aged, out of shape person does not get me downstairs to workout in the basement, cause then all I’m thinking about is all that shame and belittling. What is motivating is recognizing this is something I can change, and I want to change, I want to become more in shape because I love my body, and I love myself, and I want to be able to do whatever it is I want to do.
You can see the difference there I hope, that while the monger does serve as a motivation, it’s a crappy shaming and belittling motivation that isn’t all that motivating when we break it down. We’ve convinced ourselves it’s motivating, we’ve convinced ourselves that if we do what the monger says we won’t feel this crappy, this shaming and belittling, but we still do. What happens if we let the monger motivate us and I say, “Okay I’m going to go downstairs, and I’m going to workout because I don’t want to feel like a middle-aged, out of shape loser.”
The I go downstairs and I workout, and I don’t feel good because I’m just constantly telling myself that, “I’m a middle-aged, out of shape loser.” How is that motivating? When I go downstairs with the biggest fan saying, “Okay, here we go. We’re going to do this; we’re going to change our body. Every little bit that we workout, is that much closer to being more in shape and feeling better.” It’s all positive. The idea that I convince myself, “I’m going to go down in the basement and do what my monger tells me, and then I won’t feel bad about myself anymore,” is wrong. Because the monger you will always lose. The monger then will say, “You didn’t workout hard enough. You didn’t workout long enough. You didn’t do enough reps. You didn’t do enough cardio. You didn’t do enough weights.” Whatever, the monger always finds a bar to raise.
That’s the problem with using our mongers as motivation, is we never hit it cause they always change it, cause they always want us to be not hitting the bar. We have to channel that biggest fan and get that biggest fan in there to say, “Yes you went downstairs, you worked out, you moved your body, that was the goal. Check, check, check, check, check. Nicely done.” It’s a totally different way of looking at this, and I wanted to talk about it because I think that idea that the monger is motivating is such a harsh lie that we believe. So, what can you do about it? Because it’s hard just to change that overnight. I want you to start paying attention to how often you are using the monger as motivation. How often does it chime in there, and you think, “Oh you’re right, I need to go do what it says.” Just paying attention to how often it’s there. Building that awareness, that is step number one.
Then step number two is if you can lovingly add an and. To say, “You better get down.” If I say to myself, “You better get downstairs cause you are an out of shape, middle aged loser.” To say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Now, I am middle-aged, and I am out of shape, and I’m working on it. I’m going to get that back. And I’m going to go downstairs and move my body cause it feels so much better.” If you can take the message of the monger but cut out that shaming piece, and that belittling piece, I tell you, your life will change. If you can get past this idea that, “I won’t get anything done without my monger.”
If you have any questions on this topic, please email me, NancyJane@Live-Happier.com. I’m also on Facebook, Nancy Jane Live Happier. And I’m on Instagram, Nancy Jane Live Happier. You can find me both places, and you can comment or send me an email. I’d love to hear from you.
One thing that has really helped me Live Happier is adding regular ritual practices to my daily life so each week I am going to be sharing a ritual with you and challenge you to complete it.
So last weeks’ ritual (Take 2 Trips) was HARD. Many of you contacted me to share how challenging it was to slow down and take 2 trips. I certainly agree. My efficiency Monger chimes in A LOT. The cool thing was that I was able to slow myself down and build a lot of compassion and awareness around how often I beat myself up for being inefficient. This week’s ritual is going to be a little simpler.
This weekly ritual is a shout out to my Dad who loved trees. This week, look up take a breath and notice the wondrous trees around you. This time of year they are gorgeous offering us shade from the sun or a cooling breeze. Pause, Breathe and Look up.
Check out my Instagram where I share my daily check in with the weekly ritual practice. It is a helpful way for both of us to stay accountable to the practice.
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