We are so hard on ourselves.
“I should be this.”
“I shouldn’t be like that.”
“I should do that.”
“I shouldn’t have done that.”
“I’m too loud and talk too much.”
“I’m too quiet and need to be more social.”
“I’m too nice and should stand my ground more.”
“I’m too aggressive and in their face.”
There’s a nagging voice in our head that criticizes or judges our decisions and actions. Saboteur, gremlin, inner critic, whatever you want to call it. The voice is never friendly, but it is always ready, willing, and able to give its two cents.
The other day I heard a different voice in my head—a cheerful, happy voice with a hint of a smirk —laughing at themselves.
(Okay – it is hard to write about my inner voices without sounding like I hear voices. Bear with me.)
This voice is my Appreciator (thank you, Coactive Training Institute). You can call yours anything you want. A friend calls hers by her mother’s name, someone who always sees the best in her.
My Appreciator doesn’t always pop out to say hello. Rarely do I hear this voice. Often, I have to invite it in with a “Hey, what is a better way to look at this situation?”, “What is the silver lining here?” This voice is always available and never judges. You can ask them to join you in your head whenever you want. The Appreciator finds the value in everything and reveals the significance. Nothing fake or forced.
Okay, back to the other day when I heard this voice. I was watching TV alone, and I heard a weird noise from the kitchen. “What the heck?” Then again. Then dread arose as it dawned on me. I. Have. Caught. A. Mouse. Eeeeewww. I knew that the sound meant it was dead or soon to be. Eeeewww again.
I crept to the kitchen, picturing the mouse as big as me and just knowing that it would attack. Then I saw it dead on the top of the stove. Relief! I had caught the culprit who stole my pumpkin seeds the week before!
I immediately thought, “Paul would want me to leave it for him.” He would. I knew it. And when I asked him later, he said precisely that. But leaving it for him to discard would have been dumb. I am perfectly capable of taking care of this myself.
So, I did. The mouse went unceremoniously into my empty chip bag and out to the garbage bin.
And I was proud of myself. Does that sound silly? For a second, it does to me, but not more. I am perfectly capable of doing the stuff that is typically assigned to the man of the house, and I am happy and grateful. The voice in my head said, “that’s right – you don’t need no man.” That means doing the icky stuff, too, unplugging the toilet, fixing the leaking faucet, and dealing with the smoke alarms screeching in the middle of the night when the batteries die—all of the things.
Another day I decided to mow. Paul usually does that chore. He says he likes it. So, I leave it to him. But not today. I needed to edge first. I pulled out the weed-whacker and stared at it. It was in the wrong position for edging. Now what? I stared at it. I examined all of the buttons and stickers. Nothing. I pulled and pushed. Nothing worked. I had a passing thought to give up and let the man do it. Ugh. No. I am capable. I pulled up a YouTube video and figured out how to make the switch. Then I edged and mowed, all while repeatedly pulling up my jeans that needed a belt.
While mowing, I appreciated that my dad had asked me to hold the flashlight while he worked on the car or the furnace or whatever. That he had made me paint the house with Tom and manage a bonfire and lots of other typical ‘guy’ things. (Before my brother says, “Hey!” let me mention that he was made to do a lot more and for a lot longer. That was not fair. I enjoyed it at the time, of course.) This helped me to tell the men in my life that I wanted a nail belt and hammer too and would work with them on projects we needed to complete.
I appreciate that the smell of a lumber yard is on par with baking bread for me and that I love shopping for parts and tools and home improvement things. Even when I don’t know what I’m doing, I know that I can figure it out. It might be a big ‘ole oops, like the last set of lights I installed in our old bathroom. Not quite the right size, with old paint, exposed that didn’t match. But I did it on my own.
I appreciate that I am comfortable trying and doing the stuff that makes me say “Eeeeew” or “Ugh.”
I value that my dad taught me that I could do it too. And that the men in my life have supported me and appreciated my contributions. These small lessons and experiences make me confident to try just about anything. Just an “ugh” and a deep breath, then I can dig in.
Finally, I appreciate that I can accept help too. If Paul had been around, I would have gladly let him discard the dead mouse.
What is the name of your Appreciator?
What is your dead mouse moment?