Encouragement vs. Criticism

Last week, when my alarm went off, I looked at the clock, realized that not only was I feeling well-rested, but I also had plenty of time to hit snooze and get up 9 minutes later, refreshed and ready for what I needed to do. 

And then I said out loud to myself, “Good job!”

I have never done that before. Ever. I honestly don’t know where it came from, but I’m pretty sure it changed my whole morning. 

I smiled. Smiled! Then I rolled over, fell back asleep, and woke up a short time later with a sense of confidence and peace. I was energized, and I started my day with clarity and focus.

Now, this may be what morning people experience all the time: waking up with positivity and energy, confidence and peace. But as you might have guessed, today was unusual for me.

Because I am NOT a morning person. 

It’s not that I’m unable to get up and start my day, or that I’m terribly cranky while doing it. I just don’t usually WANT to start my day. I love my bed and feeling cozy in it. So I move slow, I’m quiet, I take my time … and about an hour later, I become fully functional.

But, as I said, that day was different. I wasn’t cranky. I moved with a little spring in my step. I felt GOOD. 

Is it possible it’s because of those two words? “Good job!” I think so.

The contrast between that day and most others was so obvious that it got me thinking about how I usually wake up. I didn’t realize that I’m often critical of myself in the morning. Before I even get out of bed – sometimes before I open my eyes – I’ve put myself down.

It’s usually things like:

  • “Waking up late again …”
  • You ate too much last night; that’s why you feel gross.”
  • “You’re clenching your teeth. That’s a problem and you’d better deal with it.”
  • “What’s your plan for today? You never have a plan. You’d better be productive.”

That critical voice just follows me all day. No wonder I don’t want to get out of bed!

I wonder if you do the same. Maybe it’s not before you’ve started your day, but instead at bedtime. Or is it just around a specific thing?

However and whenever it shows up, it’s worth asking if you find yourself being internally critical. How do you speak to yourself? As if you’re just SUCH A PROBLEM? That if you could just get your act together everything would be better for everyone?

You’re not alone, first of all. And you’re not speaking the truth. None of us who do this are. We’re just repeating what we learned in our growing up (check out another post here with some ideas about that, and how we can change).

We’ve of course got things we can work on, and opportunities to grow and evolve. But who we are at our core? We’re more than enough. We are good. We are lovable and worthy.

So I have some questions for you: 

  • If one morning of telling myself, “Good job!” made such a difference in how I felt, can you imagine how saying it all day long would make me feel?
  • Can you imagine what it would do for you?
  • What’s the phrase you could start your day with to change your mood?
  • How would it help?

Needless to say, I’ve been keeping this little phrase going every day since my first accidental dose of encouragement. I take a moment before I get up to tell myself something positive about how I’ve already handled my day (because even just setting an alarm and responding to it in a way that allows me to have the day I want or need to? That’s a win. Why NOT high five me for that?). It continues to work its magic.

This practice of encouragement has taken some power away from the critical voice that’s been well-rehearsed. Give it a try tomorrow morning, won’t you? Take your vitamin E!

One thought on “Encouragement vs. Criticism

  1. It is very interesting that if you’re not a morning person, you can be so very different from a morning person.
    I could see it in my own family: I have always been very much a morning person, my son is very much a morning person too, but not so my daughters. Also my husband has definitely not been a morning person.
    I like the way you write. In my old age now I recognise more and more, that self love and self acceptance are very important! 🙂


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