Do you struggle with a self-critical voice, an inner demon who tells you that you’ll never make it, that you’re not good enough, clever enough, thin enough, young enough, whatEVER enough? Last week I wrote about knowing some inspiring people who are seizing the day and changing their lives for the better. Here’s the story of one of them.

When I was lecturing at ECU I had a student in my class; I’ll call her Annie. Annie was a mature student and, over time, I learned that she was a single parent of teenagers and had left her job to pursue a long-held dream of Uni and was doing a double degree.

About three weeks into the semester Annie was absent. It transpired that she’d tripped up while walking along looking at her phone (let that be a warning!) and ended up with really bad concussion. It was so bad that she was only allowed a very short time of reading/screen/studying each day, and these restrictions applied right the way through the semester.

In spite of this Annie submitted all her assignments on time, attended class each week (even though, in one week, she had to bring her daughter along to take notes for her), and got a very high mark in the exam. After the semester ended, Annie took a break from her studies, took her kids out of school for 6 months and went on a road trip round Australia.

I thought Annie was fabulous, and a great example to her own kids and to younger students.

I got back in touch with her a few months later and we had a jokey email exchange where she described herself as “middle-aged and messed up”. It may have been tongue-in-cheek, but it just shows that it’s so easy to internalise negative views of ourselves (too old, too young, too fat, too thin, too quiet, too forceful) when in fact we have inspirational qualities that many people admire. A lot of those messages may come from our childhoods and the idea we developed that we’re not good enough. And societal pressure, especially on women, to be slim, beautiful and young sure doesn’t help. Recognising these self-critical voices, identifying their origin and reframing them can go a long way to helping us feel better about ourselves. This is an area where professional counselling can really help you to push those inner demons away and move on to your best life.

Annie, if you ever read this, I think you’re pretty damn awesome. Let’s go for “mature and magnificent” instead!

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