To most people my life looked great.
My family was mostly happy and healthy. My career was going well. My dogs didn’t chew my shoes, but life tasted gross. I remember pulling a slice of apple pie out of the fridge, sitting down to eat it and about halfway through I realized that I wasn’t enjoying the taste. I ate it because I put it on my plate, not because it tasted good. It was hard for me to appreciate the taste. I didn’t understand what was wrong until I began noticing this trend getting worse and worse.
I complained about every little thing. The apple pie’s crust was too dry. I complained if I had to wait for an old man to put his groceries on the checkout belt. If I got stuck at a red light. If my kids took too long to put on their shoes. If someone was late to a meeting. My complaining was in overdrive. I remember one of my colleagues commented about how calm I always was and how I never got angry, but if they heard the voice in my head they would be shocked at the negativity and vulgarities.
My complaining never stopped. It only got worse whenever I made a mistake, I would viciously attack myself.
Countless times I’ve told myself, “You are so stupid!”
I’ve told myself, “Shut the hell up!”
Or my favorite:
“Why am I such a fucking idiot?”
I was feeding myself shit pie after shit pie and pretending like I was ok with it. I felt like a worm, just digging through shit, trying to survive.
If you are being as tough on yourself, it’s time to stop! It’s not helping you build your confidence. It’s not helping you be productive. It’s not helping you make connections. It’s having the opposite effect.
It starts with the voice in our own heads. We have to work on being kinder and more compassionate to ourselves. It’s only when we create a healthier relationship with our inner voice that we can live a free and joyful life. It has taken me years to piece this together and I hope to help fast-forward your journey.
You are probably tired of eating shit pies from your boss, your family and yourself. That’s good! They taste like shit and they are bad for your mental health. You know you need to find a better way.
This has been a journey for me. I’ve learned a lot along the way. There is no magic switch. You can’t just start throwing shit pies back in people’s faces. It starts with being kinder and more compassionate to yourself first, then to the people in your life.
When my father was at the end of his life, I began to take my inner voice more seriously. I began to work with myself and build a more supportive inner voice that didn’t spew out anger, but encouraged me to dig a little deeper and try a little harder. My life began to change when I practiced gratitude for 427 straight days. I turned my pessimistic view of life into a more optimistic outlook.
Then I went deeper and started a "What did I do well today?" journal and now I keep a Zen journal. I stopped attacking people in my head. If I thought something like, “That shirt makes him look stupid or she’s an idiot.” I began to notice it and work with it. I would laugh at the thought because I was attacking him in my head to elevate myself. When I realized that every time I judged someone else I was actually bringing myself down. I was dishing out shit pies to them, but I was the one eating them. The last step of my practice has been how I help other people improve their internal and external communication. I want them to do things they love, to have the freedom to make an impact in this world. You must refuse to listen to other people's negativity. Anything is possible if you are willing to dig deep and test out ideas, no matter what anyone else thinks.
Living free takes effort, but once you realize that you had enough shit pies, you’ll find a way to work on the relationship with yourself and the people in your life. Let’s look at how you can start working with your mindset to create a healthier relationship with yourself and the people that you love.
Live Free Lesson 1: Seek truth. Be honest with yourself and the choices that you make.
The people that I most admire are the people who are truthful and aren’t willing to dole out shit pies. They don’t lie or say things to avoid upsetting you. They aren’t trying to manipulate or politicize their words or actions. They are telling their truth. You know what you need to work on and how you can improve it. They also let you know when you are appreciated. This truthfulness is the best way we can grow. They aren’t always right, but they try their best to be truthful.
Being honest with yourself requires you to know the difference between a shit pie and a regular pie. Sometimes an apple pie looks like a shit pie because someone is giving you feedback that hurts. You see this feedback and want to reject it, but if you aren’t able to see how you can learn from it then you are wasting this opportunity.
Being willing to seek the truth in a situation takes practice. Our brains like the “old” way of doing things. We see something that changes and we attack it. We want to diminish it, so it has less power over us. It really has the opposite effect. When we attack it we make these neural connections stronger and we create more separateness, which makes us feel less connected and cared for. Our current political climate is going through this right now. Both sides are losing. If we can focus on the layers of life and allow ourselves to be curious about what is really happening, we can focus on discovery instead of divisiveness.
The more curious you are about living your truth, the easier it gets to notice a shit pie and push it away. You then can put your focus on doing work that truly helps you instead of wasting your time because you feel like you have to do it.
The truth allows you to fly free. You can say what you want to say and be who you want to be because you aren't afraid to say no to what doesn't align with your heart. It's not about being mean. It's about being honest with yourself and the people in your life.
There are 10 more lessons. Stay tuned and you'll learn how to stop serving yourself shit pie each day and create the freedom to do meaningful work that lights you up inside.
Image courtesy of Photo by Alex Loup on Unsplash