Think about the last time you were hard on yourself for something awkward you said or did.
"I can't believe I said THAT. I'm so f**king dumb."
"Why would I just stand there like a piece of driftwood and not say anything?! I hate myself."
Why are we jerks to ourselves sometimes?
Last night I was sitting on my couch watching Bob Ross on Youtube...like you do, and I stumbled across this video by Bob Ross' son Steve.
No, he just calls it a happy accident.
"People are too hard on themselves these days." -Steve Ross
And the thing is...
It's really easy to be hard on yourself. From an early age we're taught to excel in school, get into the best possible college, and on and on.
We tell ourselves things like:
"I didn't get that promotion. I'm horrible at my job."
"I didn't get that client. I shouldn't even be trying this."
"I didn't start that conversation. I'm so awkward."
I'm going to talk about something I've never mentioned before...and it's something that took me more than a decade to understand.
It's one of those things that you can't "un-know". Once you realize what's happening, there's no going back to the way things were before.
Still with me?
Much of being good with people is regulating that inner jerk--because you never quite know when they'll show up...
...your inner jerk might show up on your drive to work and remind you of when you missed that deadline and felt like crap.
...your inner jerk might show up right before you meet with an important potential client to remind you of the last client you didn't sign.
...your inner jerk might show up as the elevator doors open at a conference reminding you about that time in college when you stayed at a party for five minutes and then faked a call and just left.
It's important to remember that we ALL get a visit from our inner jerk from time to time.
Most of us listen to our inner jerk. We invite them in for drinks and ask them to tell us story after story.
Because the more you listen to your inner jerk, the more you buy in to the "I'm (insert negative character trait here)" narrative that they create, and if you're actively trying to improve yourself a little each day, then there's no need to buy in to that narrative.
So what can you do to conquer your inner jerk?
Here are four ways to silence your inner jerk so that you can stop being so hard on yourself:
1. Breathe. I've noticed that in those moments where I feel my inner jerk rising, the more I breathe (specifically box breathing) the more distance I create between myself and my inner jerk. Under the hood, box breathing activates my parasympathetic nervous system (Think "rest and digest" vs. "fight or flight") which lowers cortisol.
2. The Three Fs: Flush. Fix. Forget. I flush all charged emotion from whatever the inner jerk is spouting off about. I examine that situation and I tell myself how I'd approach it differently in the future, then I can close the book because I've got a plan for next time.
3. Meditate. I don't care about chakras or auras. I care about high performance, and meditation is one of the most important practices I've adopted in the last 10 years. Three months ago I made it a priority to meditate every day.
The people skills benefit to meditation is that you'll notice that you can more easily handle the emotions your inner jerk summons. You'll be able to sit with those emotions and just like a gust of wind, you'll be able to let it pass away.
There are great apps that make it easy to get started. (Important side note: everyone I've talked to said that you need at least seven days of sessions before you notice any results. I'd agree.)
4. Acknowledge your inner jerk and tell them you'll be okay without them. This one is a little strange, but stay with me. At their core, our inner jerks are really trying to do one thing: keep us safe by avoiding risks. You'll probably hear from your inner jerk the closer you get to the edge of your comfort zone.
Sometimes, you just need to put your arm around your inner jerk and say: "Hey buddy, I appreciate you trying to keep me safe, but I've got this one."
Use these techniques next time your inner jerk shows up.
I want to hear from you...
What does your inner jerk whisper to you?
Comment below and tell me, I'd love to dig into this with you.