"You're useless, you're a failure, you'll never do a good job of that report" - she said.  She was pretty nasty but I was used to it.  She was mean like this most of the time. "You're too fat, just look at yourself in the mirror - you're an embarrassment" - she told me. It made me feel awful - but I just took it - I was used to hearing these criticisms now. 

"You've messed up before so you'll probably do it again" - she whispered,and before I could stop her "you're getting old -  those wrinkles make you look so bad" - she reminded me too. 

She was the closest person to me - always mean but always around.  Always nagging, always harsh, always cruel. 

Why didn't I remove her from my life you might wonder? Well I didn't even know she was there to be honest - until I noticed that I wasn't really feeling that good...

she was my inner voice - my inner dialogue, or my thoughts I guess you could say. 

I would never talk that way to a stranger, to an enemy, yet speaking to myself - this was the norm. Why was I so harsh on myself? Why were my standards so unreasonably high?  Why was I so demanding? It somehow seems ridiculous, it somehow seemed wrong.

Maybe it's normal - I don't know - we are taught to strive after perfection, beauty, status and power.Or maybe it's me and I'm my own worst enemy, maybe I need to be more forgiving, more patient with myself - more kind? 

It's Mental Health Awareness Week and people across the country are starting to think about their mental health - but how much awareness of and control over your thoughts and inner dialogue do you have?  Even those that don't suffer from a diagnosable mental health condition are often much harsher on themselves than they ever would be to a friend or even an enemy.  Their thoughts are often punishing, self-depreciating and mean. 

As you start to take note of that inner dialogue that runs through your day - ask yourself - are you talking to yourself in a way that is kind and forgiving or are you harsher on yourself than you should be?