When I was about 9 or 10 something changed in my relationship with my little sister. (My little sister that's just less than a year younger than me.) We went from being inseparable and loving to fighting and arguing in the blink of an eye. Having girls of my own now, who are prone to the occasional wrestle, I don't know how my mum stayed sane. All of sudden we went from begging each other to sleep in each others' beds, (Me, because I am always cold and she was the main source of central heating in the days when not everyone had central heating. Her, because she was scared of the dark and the mere mention of Dracula would have her jumping her lovely, hot body into my bed.) to not being able to stand in the same room with each other. Maybe it's because we shared a room and we were getting to the age where you want your own space, or maybe it was pre-teen hormones kicking in, whatever it was we started to be seriously mean to each other.
Why am I telling you this? Well, I'll tell you.
I'm not proud of it, and I've subsequently apologised to my gorgeous sister, who I love dearly, but we started to call each other horrible names and continued to do so right into our teens. Now, there was a 'no swearing from the kids' policy in our house that was strictly adhered to, but we would try to get away with it by calling each other a 'cow'. (This actually annoyed my mum as much as swearing would, but it was a fine line.)
This cow would be prefixed with something.
For me, my sister would usually go for, "You ugly cow. You sad cow. You pathetic cow." My wounding arrows of choice would be, "You stupid cow. You thick cow. You annoying cow." Lovely!! I know.
And as siblings do, we knew we had found the weak spot and we repeated it and repeated it. As much as mum stopped us, we'd whisper it quietly after she'd left the room. It seeped into our subconscious beliefs.
And eventually often, I did feel ugly and sad next to my long legged, blonde, bubbly, gorgeous sister. And eventually she felt stupid next to her hard working, conscientious, studious sister. We'd conditioned each other with these little labels to believe that they were true.
My sister and I in our adult years have spoken about this and forgiven each other for what we said all those years ago as young girls. We didn't mean what we were saying, we just wanted to hurt the other person when we were annoyed by each other. Today we try to be cheerleaders to each other and love each other dearly.
But how interesting as I started to look at the inner critic voice, and I wanted to give it less power in my mind after my near miss of a second burnout, that I should call it "Mean Little Cow." It's only as I launched my book this weekend did I even consider the significance in this. Calling someone a cow in my eyes is a real insult. (Poor cows, as a veggie I really do love them and don't know why we picked on them all those years ago. LOL)
So how do we undo that conditioning? How do we quieten down that inner critic that takes from references buried in our sub-conscious? How do we show it what it is saying isn't true? Or is a warped version of the truth at best?
Well, depending where you live if you go to Bounce Back from Burnout UK, Bounce Back from Burnout US or Bounce Back from Burnout EU there's a great little exercise in Chapter Seven to help you to retrain that 'Mean Little Cow' voice once and for all.
I'd love to hear if you have a name for that negative, inner critic in the comments and how to manage to make her, or him, pipe down.