Don’t tell me not to fly, I’ve simply got to.
If someone takes a spill, it’s me and not you.
Don’t bring around a cloud to rain on my parade.
When I was in New Mexico for the holidays, my niece Atalie, who is quite the performer and a huge fan of Glee, gave a command performance of the song “Don’t Rain on My Parade”. The song is a perfect one for Atalie. She loves it, knows every tricky phrase, and she can belt it out like Babs herself. I would gladly have listened to her sing it many more than the four times I heard it.
Atalie has a naturally sunny disposition, and like many 10 year olds, can really only conceive of feeling badly about herself if someone else makes her feel that way. A Thanksgiving place mat art project from a couple of years back says it all: Atalie was to fill in the blank on a sentence, and now has a keepsake which reads, “I am thankful for…myself!”
Sometime after 10 and before adulthood, things change for most of us. Instead of primarily feeling arrows of criticism, dislike, negative assessment that are lobbed at us from external sources (peers, parents, siblings, strangers), we start internalizing the critique. We become the voice that makes us feel bad about ourselves. We are the menacing cloud that rains on our own parade.
Today, I have an opportunity to take a hard look at this cycle of negative self-talk. The weigh-in this morning was a bummer. For the first time in this challenge, my weight went up (albeit not a full pound) and the amount of our overall donation dropped. I would like to say that I felt bad primarily because it means less overall money for hunger relief. And that is definitely part of it. Bigger, though, is the wave of nasty comments my brain wants to make to myself — embarassment (now everybody knows you failed this week), self-recrimination (why did you eat that breakfast burrito last Thursday?!), self-loathing (why can’t you do anything right).
As the day and week progress, I will have multiple opportunities to choose — rain all over myself, or keep shining. The first chance came right after weigh-in — go back to bed or work out? I made it through that first decision point, a little late but I clocked in at Sisters around 7:00 this morning. Changing negative thought patterns requires choosing, over and over, to recognize the old pattern, interrupt it, and create a new pattern. My new pattern is to talk back to that mean voice in my head. I’m going to ask it, “Who told you you’re allowed to rain on my parade?”