This helpful acronym highlights the ways that we think and speak in unkindly and fixed ways to, or about, ourselves.
2020 was a year of darkness for me. Not much light was present in my life. But the MOANS was very much present on a daily basis. I had lost myself, I was emotionally unstable, I felt burned out, not able to take the right decisions & I was living in the fog. I moved away from Geelong to regroup with my family in Belgium. While I was in Belgium & away from all the mess & dramas I created, this is when I could really reflect, change & grow. This is also when the MOANS took over my every move & my every thoughts. I was frozen & petrified by regrets, my past behaviour, actions & my mistakes.
Every day life while in Europe in 2020 for 8 months:
I must grow up fast
I must fix this mess I create
I must improve & learn from my mistakes
I ought to make things right
I ought to apologise to people I have hurt
I ought to fix my marriage
I always mess things up
I always upset people
I always say the wrong things
I was never there enough to help her
I was never man enough to face this all up
I was never the strong person I thought I was
I should have stayed home in Geelong
I should have stayed faithful
I should have communicated better & more
In sport what I have heard over the years:
I must win
I must perform better
I must beat him/her
I ought to do a PB
I ought not to disappoint my coach
I ought to do better than last year
I always swim poorly
I always get dropped on the bike
I always lose my nerves on race day
I will never win anything
I never achieve my goals
I won’t ever finish an ironman
I should have done better
I should be faster by now
I should have eaten better food
This is I am sure present in many people’s lives & in many athlete’s lives too. The thing is, do you really think it led me to anywhere positive & constructive?
Self criticism & self analysis can lead to self improvement & growth but it needs to be done with gentleness & patience to get to a better place & to a good result.
For me personally, it just made me sink deeper & deeper into the depression, the negativity & the darkness. I had no respect for depression but now I do & understand it after having had one in 2020. That bad emotional state, that state of being stuck in your own head & body is a hard place to live in & I never wanna go back there again. Letting go of the MOANS was a huge help in getting out of my depression. With the help of amazing people in Belgium, I slowly let go of it & replaced it by positive energy, by letting go of control fully, letting go of my image that I self destroyed & by letting go of regrets. I was slowly changing my thinking, was using GEM daily (gratitude, empathy, mindfulness) & things like mistakes, regrets or even past self centred behaviour decisions became a life experience that taught me so much, changed me in a positive way & made me the person I am today. I realised that even if leaving for Europe & leaving everything behind including the two things I love the most, my kids, was a coward, selfish & weak act, I now realise it was needed to allow me to transform. I don’t use “I should have stayed home in Geelong” anymore.
The must, ought to, always, never & should bring you nothing but pain, sadness, pressure & unease. In my experience, the best thing you can ever do is keep learning, use tricks to re centre on an emotional + energy levels, be the best version of you, help people along the way & letting go of big expectations & replace them with small achievable targets if you are a driven or goal orientated person.
It is important to enjoy the journey, the process of whatever you started filled with love, positivity & GEM.
These ways of speaking to ourselves set us up for negative self-judgment and feelings of shame. Even though the intention behind our negative self-talk is to motivate us towards positive change and growth, when we feel judged and ashamed it is much harder to reach our goals. We are being motivated (or more often than not demotivated) by fear and punishment.
Notice when you find yourself using these words and see if you can purposefully rephrase this speech to have a more encouraging or compassionate intention. Phrases like “I will..” or “I’d like to..”, “I could..” or “I can…” open up our perspective to the possibility for change and growth. When you alter your internal speech to be more self-compassionate you may find you are more inclined to act with greater courage and confidence. Give it a try and see for yourself.