The Inner Dialogue

Have you ever met your inner critic? You know, that version of you that tells you when you shouldn’t do something or tells you you aren’t good enough?

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of inner dialogue with myself. It’s not that this is something new but I’ve started recognizing it and being aware of it. Do you know how many jobs have never applied for because I’m telling myself that I’m not qualified enough? Do you know how many risks have not been taken because I talk myself out of them?

I deal with this when I travel as well. Initially, when a travel plan comes up, my immediate reaction is to stay home in my safe place. I don’t want to go somewhere new and have to figure things out and hope everything is okay. It takes work to quiet that negativity and really think about how much fun I’ll have traveling and all of the new experiences that will happen.

It’s scary to step outside our safe box. What if we get rejected? What if we fail? What if we just aren’t good enough?

The big question then becomes “Well, WHAT IF that actually happens?” Honestly, it will be okay. People have been surviving rejection and failure for centuries. In these cases, it might take work to get back on your feet and get ready for another attempt but it’s possible. The world hasn’t ended and we all get another chance. At least, we did try to do something new.

All of the dreams that I’ve had for years have finally made their way to the forefront. I’ve stopped repressing the things I want and have even managed to attempt at a few of things I used to dream about doing. This isn’t to say that I don’t experience anxiety and dread when I attempt these things. I do. But that inner critic can be quieted. I won’t let it get the best of me and block the things I really want out of life.

How’s your inner dialogue going today? Is it positive or it is trying to repress you?

 

A Competitive Community

Indians are competitive. We are competitive in every possible thing that we can be.

As a child, I remember the competition to get the best grades. Later, it was SAT scores and colleges. After that, it was careers. Then came marriage and children.

It was also happening within the community outside of our Indian one but it was definitely amplified within it.

It didn’t matter if we were in the top 10 of our class in our school, we had to also to better than the people we were growing up with (or at least comparable).

I’m positive that there is always some talk about who is married and who has had kids and who is a stay at home mom and who is a working mom. There’s definitely competition in who has the best wedding and the most original wedding and the most expensive wedding.

This competition exists in whatever we do. I’ve experienced it heavily in different dance companies. The crazy thing to me is that I honestly believe we limit our potential as a culture if we compete.

We want to be able to share how wonderful the Indian culture is with the world. But how can we do that when we try to keep each other down? We want to involve and encourage as many people as possible.

So the question becomes why? Why should we encourage others in our community? What if they are our competition for schools and jobs? What if their business competes directly with ours? Won’t it hurt us?

In my opinion, no. I’ve seen the discouragement and disappointment of a competitive community and I’ve seen the amazing community that people can build if they have each other’s support. In the long run, everyone moves forward if we work together and lift each other up. Maybe, just maybe, India with its billion of people can have more of a presence world-wide. We could enter in the Olympics and have more than 4 people. We could be more than a side-note in the entertainment industry (especially since India makes the most movies in the world). We could build a great, progressive country that is respected.

I honestly believe this all starts at home. Build each other up. Encourage each other. Help each other move forward.

Self-Doubt

I recently wrote a post with the question of whether or not I am a toxic person.

Logically, I know that I am trying to be the best person I can be even though it doesn’t always show. What I didn’t know is that my self-doubt would increase tremendously since I lost the friend that forced me to confront this question. I didn’t realize how much it would affect me. I can understand it and realize that it happened and there’s not much I can do what happened in the past but I didn’t realize that it would follow me for months.

It’s not the first time I’ve been through a loss of some sort. It’s happened before and crushed everything I knew about myself. I remember feeling like I disappeared for a while. I had to really work hard to find myself. I went through therapy and really worked on myself and I became someone I liked and respected. After I entered my 30s, I thought I knew who I was. I had read enough books and really took a look at my life. I found things and people I loved and believed that I had settled into who I was supposed to be. I had accomplished some pretty cool things that I was proud of and moved forward.

There’s been a lot of changes since that point. It’s been almost 8 years since I turned 30. And somehow, I’m back in the middle of a bunch of questions. I have constantly been meeting new people through my kids’ schools and classes and through the dance classes we teach. And through it all, I thought I knew myself and had accepted the fact that not everyone would be my best friend. That was okay. I knew who my tribe was. I knew the strength of the bonds I had formed.

But now, I’m questioning the basic core of myself. Am I someone that people want to be around? Am I someone that my kids like? Am I someone that I can respect?

I have fallen back into the trap of questioning myself after every social engagement. I worry that I said the wrong thing or did something that offended someone. The logical grown-up in me knows that whatever happens happens and it’s okay as long as I tried my best to be a good person but the emotional anxiety in me has risen up immensely.

Do I have to go through the same work again to be comfortable with myself? How do I learn to trust myself again? What if no one ever likes me? (Oh man, that thought makes me feel like a teenager again.) How do I know that this won’t happen with other people?How do I know if I’m disappointing or hurting someone else enough that they will decide to stop being my friend as well?

How do I manage this self-doubt?

 

I Don’t Like Overly Enthusiastic People…

…especially if it’s not real. I feel you can tell if someone is totally BSing you. You can tell if someone responds to something and it just seems like they are saying what they think is expected of them.

It seems like, at some point, a message was sent to the world saying that if you like something, you must be overly enthusiastic about it. I don’t know if it’s just social media driven or in general. You must be “obsessed” with something or it has to be “amazing” or it is the “best” thing you ever saw.

Seriously?

Where did reality go?

Sometimes, clothes are just clothes. Sometimes, a story is just a story. Sometimes, things are just “good”.

What is this image that people are trying to portray? Why do they feel like they have to 1) respond to everything and 2) absolutely love it? Doesn’t doing this diminish the value of what they are saying?

I’m not talking about kindness or positivity. I think those things are necessary to cultivate in real life. I think it’s possible for a person to be kind and/or positive without all the BS.

I’m just honestly talking about the over-the-top responses that things in this world receive sometimes. Sometimes, I have trouble believing what someone is saying just because their answers seem fake and just something that people want to hear.

In my opinion, real answers (or no comments if you aren’t going to say something kind) are better than fake. Otherwise, how can I trust what you’re saying?

If you can explain this to me, I’d love to hear.

Believe in Yourself

Validation. We all need it. But how do we get it?

A lot of us tend to seek it out from other people. It’s hard to value ourselves. It’s hard to be able to see our own self-worth. It’s hard to really trust that we are the best versions of who we can be. So we look to others and if they approve of us, we feel good about ourselves.

But what happens if we do something that people don’t approve of? What if we do something that is a good decision for us but isn’t what others think is the “right” thing to do?

How do we validate our decisions then? How do we feel good about ourselves when the rest of the world tells us we aren’t good?

I honestly don’t know the right answer to these questions.

I know that we should be able to validate ourselves. I know that if we are going to trust others, we should trust the people who have been there for us through everything. Why should we listen to people who don’t know us at our core? Why should we listen to those who don’t understand us or our feelings?

I think that sometimes, we just need to trust ourselves. I didn’t trust my emotions and myself throughout my entire 20s. I thought I was wrong in feeling the way I felt. I tried to change my mindset because I thought that I shouldn’t be feeling the way I did. I thought I wasn’t gracious enough and that I wasn’t good enough. I looked at myself through the lenses of the people around me. I didn’t like what I saw at all. I learned by my late 20s that the problem wasn’t me or the way I felt. My feelings were correct. I needed to change my life around.

So I started doing just that. As I entered my 30s, I learned to trust myself and the way I felt. Once I felt centered, I was able to make friends who really were people that I could really reflect off of. I was able to see myself for who I really was. And they saw me for who I really was.

It isn’t easy to always validate yourself. Once you start believing in yourself and who you are, it gets easier.

The Next Step

Last week, I wrote about mental health and yesterday, I mentioned how it’s important to be able to cope with the feelings that you might be having.

I also wanted to dedicate an article to what the next step is.

If you don’t feel like you figured out ways to cope and actually feel better, it might be time to seek help. There is nothing wrong with needing professional help. As I mentioned before, if you are willing to see a doctor for your body, why would you feel bad about seeing a doctor for your mind? It is a part of who we are and it also needs to be taken care of.

So what’s the next step?

When I finally admitted that I needed help, I literally just got on the phone with my insurance company. A lot of insurance companies have a phone number for mental health on the back of their card. And when I say I got on the phone with the company, I mean that my friend and I got on the phone because I still needed the support. It was a hard decision to make. It made me feel like I failed at something because I wasn’t able to deal with my issues by myself.

Sometimes, you need someone to help you stand yourself up again. And it’s okay.

So I called the insurance company’s mental health line and asked them who they covered in my area. They literally started at A and gave me 5 names and numbers. I called the first number on the list and made an appointment.

It’s important that you like your therapist and feel like they can help you. I needed someone to listen and to help me navigate my murky feelings. I needed someone who could help me take steps to become me again.

I was lucky that the first name that I called was the first person I saw was the therapist I ended up seeing for the next 4 years. Even when I felt better and more like myself after a year or two, I kept on seeing her every so often just as a tune-up. I saw her as I went through a few other phases in my life and she helped me get through them.

The only reason I stopped was because I moved away and physical distance made it difficult. I haven’t found another therapist because I haven’t felt the urgency to see one yet. After having 2 kids though and not quite feeling like myself for a while, I am thinking about finding one near me.

I want to be the best version of me I can be and be able to give that to my family. So I’ll do what I can to find that person again.

How To Chase Your Passions While Being a Mom

Today, I was really missing dancing and performing. I’ve spent a good part over the last 16 years dancing on various teams and in shows. It’s definitely slowed down since I had my first kid. I have had a few opportunities to dance in between being pregnant and having baby #1 and baby #2 but it’s not as frequently as I would like.

I posted on Facebook about this longing I had for dance and a few opportunities popped up. I’m really excited to get started and do this.

But I can’t just jump into things the way I used to.

I have to remember that my first responsibility is my family. My kids’ lives and needs come first. They have their schedules that are more important that anything else.

So how does it work if my needs come second?

Somehow, I have to manage balancing my responsibilities with chasing my passions. I know I could just ignore my own needs and concentrate on my kids but if I did that, then I wouldn’t be giving them my best self. The only answer to this is to find a way to do both.

I find sections of my day to focus on the things I do for me. I wake up early to write (or write during a movie that I’m watching with my kid like I’m doing now). I work out during nap times. In order to be able to dance, I need the support of my husband.

He’s a great guy and we both believe in allowing space so that the other is able to do the things that will make us happy. We believe that if we are happy, our kids will be happy. So I have the ability to dance while my husband handles our responsibilities.

It isn’t easy to be able to chase your passions while being a mom. But if I want it bad enough, I’ll find a way to do it.