I was walking up a long, beautiful hill in the wilderness today, with my reluctant 3 year old in tow. She was shivering and taking a few little steps at a time. About halfway up the hill she started screeching “I’m too tired” and “I can’t walk” over and over.
When the black clouds opened and spewed hail into the pounding winds, I held her frozen little hand and she huddled under my long coat . Although part of me shared her concerns about how I’d get a weary, icy Lausbub up the hill, what I said was things like “I know, the top looks so far away…You feel like you can’t go on… You are doing so well… You’ll make it… Just one step at a time… Look how far you’ve already come”.
And suddenly, listening to her words of doubt screaming on repeat, I felt like I was hearing my own voice. The 3 year old in me that feels “I can’t do it” or “I’ll never get there” about pretty much anything long or hard that I do. And it struck me… what if I spoke to myself with such calm, patience and reassuring authority?
I’ve previously been far more likely to agree with my inner doubting 3 year old, or worse, lay on heavy criticism. When I imagine how ineffective/damaging it would be to speak to my daughter like that, it pains me to think how I’ve done that to myself for so many years. My mother was doing her absolute best, but didn’t have much capacity to encourage me like that. Unfortunately her rather more critical influence has become my internal voice. I came face to face with that voice in Jamie Catto’s Transforming Shadows workshop and it was a shocking encounter. I’m pledging to replace that with my own kind mummy voice from now on.