We all have it, that self-critical voice that puts you down before you even begin. The little (or big) voice that stops you in your tracks that makes you feel as though you’re not good enough and that no one cares.
For most of us, it is swiftly shut down and put back in its box. For others, especially those who suffer from depression and anxiety it can be a constant merry go round of fear, loathing, and self-disrespect.
But what if asking someone who looked out of sorts, lost in thought or unusually quiet if they were ok could help to break that cycle? What if they’d gotten lost in that negative self-thought and a simple check in could drag them back out and let them know that they are deserving?
A few months ago on a weekend away with Melbourne Girls Outside my thoughts had drifted back to an occurrence just a few days earlier. OK, no, that is a lie. My thoughts for the previous two days had been on a constant self-deprecating loop. Replaying and analysing a scenario over and over again that suddenly left me, after 4.5 years with the company I’d been working for, no longer employed. By this point in time the self-talk was pretty negative. Maybe what they said was right? (it wasn’t). Maybe I really do possess those qualities they said I do? (I don’t) Maybe I really am not the stand up person I thought I was? (I am).
Then one of the MGO girls causally asked me what I did for my day job. She saw my hesitation and the sadness come across my face and she asked me ’R U OK?’ So I told her. I shared the background of what happened and maybe a tear or two. A few of the other girls also joined in on the conversation and shortly I was surrounded by positivity and affirmation. I was being told words that little by little chipped away at that negative self-talk that had been piling and piling. This group of extremely new friends, through their concern and kindness, pulled me back out of that dark tunnel I was headed down and helped me see that although I was in a horrible situation that I was not a horrible person like that little voice in my head was saying.
It would have been all too easy the day before to bail on the weekend away; to stay home alone and hide from the world and bury myself in my negative thoughts. I can honestly say that the attitude that I had in the days after would not have been as positive, or as strong, without the care and support of effectively a group of strangers.
I am sure that to those girls, if they were to reflect upon our conversation, that they wouldn’t think that they had done anything out of the ordinary. That they had just shown the concern that anyone would in a scenario like mine. But that is the point, isn’t it? You never know just how much of an impact a simple question like ‘R U OK?’ can have on someone and how that smallest connection may have the greatest impact.