This blog is rapidly becoming my own personal confessional. Rather apt considering I haven’t been to confession in… A long time. Today’s confession? I’m a sucker for clickbait. You know the kind of thing: ‘This person ______. You’ll never guess what happened next!’ And no one does clickbait better than Mr Sulu himself, George Takei. I’ve followed Mr Takei and his husband Brad on Facebook for quite a while and their posts are an entertaining combination of clickbait, pop culture and political/social commentary. Recently, I spotted the following article on Brad Takei’s feed:
The notion of the inner bully that berates a person and harms their mental wellbeing isn’t all that new. In college, our psychology lecturers called it negative self-talk, that internal narrative that diminishes our self-worth and prevents us achieving our potential. It’s that little voice criticising, telling you that you can’t do things and that you’re not worthy.
Eleanor Roosevelt said ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’ When the person making you feel inferior is you, it can be hard to change your thinking and deny that inner bully consent to hurt you. For me, two of the hardest lessons learned as an adult were that I can’t fix other people’s issues and that only I can fix my own issues. To put it another way:
How does all of this relate to me? I’m sure you can imagine that when a person is struggling to find their way in a job that perhaps isn’t suited to them, they can start to have quite a lot of negative self-talk. ‘I’m terrible at this.’ ‘What’s wrong with me?’ ‘If other people can do it, why can’t I?’ After a while, this kind of talk can extend beyond your professional life and start to affect your overall self-esteem. You lose sight of what you can do well when you’re so focused on what you find difficult.
So I’ve been trying to remind myself of the things that make me feel good about me. Today, that takes the form of baking. I’ve been making soda bread since I was a twelve-year-old home economics student, and I’m so well practised at it that I no longer bother with the weighing scales. As much as I dislike cooking, baking has always had a therapeutic quality for me. I pick a time when I have nothing particular demanding my time, stick on some tunes and away I go. Preheat the oven, mix the dry ingredients, add the buttermilk, knead the dough…. This is a comfortable, predictable routine that soothes me. Woe betide anyone who messes with this ritual, as my poor brother discovered years ago as I was just starting to recover from a particularly stressful day. I had to apologise twenty minutes later for the undeserved rollicking I gave him for a simple bit of good-natured sibling banter.
But I digress.
Not only does baking relax me, but I’ve come to find making ‘my bread’ (or as my friend’s children call it ‘flour bread,’ owing to the dusting of flour on the base of the loaf) is actually a self-esteem boost for me. This is my domain. All humility about my bread has long since been dispensed with. Nobody does it better. A fresh loaf can easily be frozen for future consumption, but in most houses it doesn’t last long enough to warrant freezing.
These are the kind of things we all need to hold onto when our inner bully strikes. When my negative self-talk is telling me I’m no good, I need to have a list ready of all the things I am good at. And I need to start doing those things more often to remind myself of my abilities and put that inner bully back in her box.
So today, I’ve been baking. I’m off to taste the fruits of my labour. Yum!