Have you ever wanted to go for that big new promotion, only for a little voice in your head to say: “I couldn’t possibly be worth that much money.”
Or have you ever looked at a group of weights in the gym and thought to yourself: “There’s no way I could ever lift that.”
If so, congratulations – you’re human! These are examples of trash talk, and we all have voices like this in our heads. If we’re not careful, our inner trash talkers can persuade us that we’re not good enough to achieve the kind of results we want.
Introducing my loudest trash talker
In my life, I have one inner trash talker who is especially loud and obnoxious. She’s actually been with me so long that I’ve given her a name: Little Miss Perfect Pants. For many years, she’s tried to sabotage me with classic lines like:
“No, you’re not done with that yet. It’s not perfect!”
“You can’t apply for that. You’re not ready. I’m not sure if you’ll ever be ready!”
I first became aware of Little Miss Perfect Pants around 2004. I was working with a coach who noticed a perfectionism that kept getting in my way. I had previously identified a different trash talker called “the superintendent,” who was all about cracking the whip so that I would work non-stop. Little Miss Perfect Pants is a step-cousin of that voice.
To give you a sense of what living with Little Miss Perfect Pants is like, let me tell you a story. A few years ago, my triathlon swim coach encouraged me to compete in my first master’s swim meet – at the tender age of 45. I was excited, but Little Miss Perfect Pants was having none of it.
“A swim meet? Get real, Darcy, your flip turns are horrendous! You’ll look ridiculous – better to stay at home so you don’t embarrass yourself.”
Putting Little Miss Perfect Pants in her place
Ok, if you’re thinking that it’s crazy that I name voices in my head, you’re right. But bear with me just one second.
As I said earlier, it’s completely normal to have inner trash talkers. The key question to ask is whether the voice is serving or sabotaging you. In other words, will acting on that voice really keep you safe, or will it hold you back from doing something awesome?
Over the years, I’ve learned to put Little Miss Perfect Pants in her place by directly addressing her concerns. I can’t eliminate her voice, but I can cultivate awareness of her and stop her from sabotaging me in her usual sneaky way. Once I’ve noticed her, I’m normally able to agree that her concerns are valid, but move forward anyway – despite things not being perfect.
I want to stress that doing this is not easy, and Little Miss Perfect Pants still gets the better of me at times. It takes practice to listen thoughtfully to trash talk and then choose to not act on it. Being Thoughtfully Fit takes work – just like becoming physically fit requires you to repeatedly build the habit of going to the gym and working out.
So if you have inner trash talkers trying to prevent you from playing big and doing what you love, try the following core workout:
- Pause: The next time your inner trash talk threatens to sabotage you, pause for a moment.
- Think: Ask yourself: Is this thought serving me or sabotaging me?
- Act: If the thought is serving you, act on it. If it’s sabotaging you, let it go and proceed…thoughtfully.
Curious how the swim meet ended? Well, despite Little Miss Perfect Pants’ trying to convince me otherwise, I did end up going! While I didn’t win any of my races (I actually didn’t even win any of my heats!), I loved the energy and learning that came from trying something new.
Take that, Little Miss Perfect Pants