I think we need to have a talk, you and me.
Until recently I’ve been letting you get away with being pretty mean to me. I’ve let you undermine my confidence in my ability to do things. I’ve let you set ridiculously high standards and then beat me up when I haven’t met them. I’ve let you have a go at my appearance, my intelligence and my social skills.
I’ve even let you have a go at me for letting you do all this stuff to me.
All this has been happening without me taking much notice. You’ve been going on and on at me for so long that your words have become ingrained in my mind, are part of my everyday thinking and influence the way I behave.
But now I’ve started to become aware of you, and I’m starting to understand why you’re doing this. I’m catching you in the act. I’m telling you to shut up, and I’m making some progress in counteracting what you say, and you don’t like it one little bit.
Today you started to fight back.
You knew I was nervous about the briefing today. You knew I was worried I’d screw it up and make a fool of myself. And you didn’t like me telling you that I was going to be fine. That I knew my stuff and that the person I was meeting with wasn’t going to attack me or make fun of me.
And I didn’t screw up, and they didn’t make fun of me or attack me.
But what did you do? You chose to focus on the one time I said something that wasn’t appropriate, and to make a judgement that the whole briefing went badly because of that one thing I said.
And I battled with you for hours on this. You tried to make me feel bad about it. I tried to block you out and focus on the things I did well, which there were a lot of, thank you very much. You continued to beat me up about it.
I didn’t have to do this briefing. I could have said no, but I wanted to test myself in a situation that was outside my comfort zone, but was still safe. I knew I could handle it, or I wouldn’t have agreed to do it.
I told you that the briefing went fine and that the screw-up didn’t matter. I told you that I was going to focus on the things that went well and not blow that one sentence out of proportion. I told you that I was going to consider it a success, and a learning experience, and that it wasn’t the end of the world.
And you told me that you always knew it would go badly, that I can’t think on my feet and that I always say stupid things in the heat of the moment. You told me that little things like that incident can ruin even the best of meetings. You told me that I should have done better, that yet again I failed to live up to expectations.
I know what you’re doing.
You’re trying to prepare me from the fallout from the briefing, so that when something happens as a result of what I said, I’ll be prepared for it. I’ll be expecting punishment and, as you’ve already tried to beat me up about it, anything that anyone else says won’t be so bad.
Strange as it seems, you think that by having a go at me, you’re actually trying to protect me.
But I can see right through you and I don’t like it.
What you’re really doing is setting me up to fail. You are holding me back and you’re making me afraid to live my life.
It’s taken me a long time to realise the true cost of giving you such free reign over my thoughts and my life, and it’s going to take a long time to wind you back in, but you’ve forgotten one thing. In amongst all the things you hold up as my ‘weaknesses’, I know there are some strengths, and one of them is determination.
I won’t give up until something is done. Perfectly. You know that because you insist on it.
So guess what? I intend to overcome you. It will take time. There will be days like today when I’m fighting with you tooth and nail. But that’s good, because the more I do this, the better I’ll get at it and the easier it will be to shut you up.
I will overcome you. Not perfectly, because I suspect you’ll always be there. But this hold you have on me, I’ve started to prise it loose and I’m not going to give up.