“You’ve Got 5 Minutes”Feb 20, 2023
A couple of weeks ago, I shared a tip on how to worry less using a Worry Journal.
This week I want to share another “self-management” tip that relies on similar strategies.
As a young adult, I was quite hard on myself whenever I made mistakes. My parents would try to help me realize that it was OK to make mistakes, everyone does it, making mistakes didn’t mean I was a bad person, etc. But nothing much helped. I might be stuck in this self deprecating head space for days
Until my dad came up with a new plan.
When I started going down the road of deep self-criticism, he would set a timer and say "OK, you have 5 minutes.” During those 5 minutes, I got to say whatever I wanted to about myself, however mean or distorted.
When the timer went off, the deal was I was done. Close that chapter. Move forward to solutions, and self-forgiveness. Interestingly, this worked well for me.
Being given “permission” to give full voice to the critical voices in my head helped me to then let go of them. And the timer trained me to close the conversation.
I have used this technique throughout my life. And, perhaps not surprisingly, I rarely need to anymore. I have learned the art of self-forgiveness. But when those pesky voices threaten to take over my headspace, I still set the 5 minute timer and go.
My dad passed away in early 2022, and I spent much time with him during his last bedridden six months. At one point he started to slip into self-criticism, and I was able to share this back with him. His smile when I said “OK dad, you have 5 minutes” was a precious moment.