The Voice in My Head

One Step Closer to the Center of Our Wellbeing

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Kirsty Pratley is an infection preventionist from Northern Light Mayo Hospital who agreed to be one of the employees who shared their pandemic challenge in One Step Closer. When she returned her questionnaire, though, her response felt guarded, very business-like. So I pushed her a bit. What came back took my breath away.
As you’ll see in Kirsty’s original response, the biggest challenge of the past year has been keeping herself cheered up. While that is an understandable challenge, I didn’t learn anything more about how this played out in her life before she wrapped her story up with a pragmatic sequence of behaviors necessary to support being more cheerful. I had no real feel for why this goal was chosen and who this person behind this tightly structured goal to be more cheerful was.
I got it second time around, though, when Kirsty sent back a transcript of the inner monologue going on in her head. That voice in our head…it’s one we are all very familiar with, the one referred to as our inner critic. While we may or may not be consciously aware every time it pipes up, we most definitely are going to have a reaction to what it is saying about us and it’s not going to be a happy one. And there’s also a very good chance we won’t question the validity of the statements being lobbed at us and another good chance this beating will influence how we present ourselves to the world. Be cheerful with this constant jibber jabber going on? Not bloody likely.
As you’ll see in Kirsty’s Voice In My Head transcript, not only has she carefully documented the voice so she knows exactly what is being said, she’s called in her inner resident expert to evaluate the accuracy of the statements and to bring context and perspective to the table. This is the voice of reason and understanding. This is the voice interested in truth. This is the voice to be believed.
As for us, it is such a privilege to be allowed into Kirsty’s head. It is normalizing to know that people we look at and think of as having it all together also host this bizarre and distressing self-critic component of our make-up. It is helpful to have the mirror held up so we can see exactly how harshly we actually talk to ourselves. It is reassuring to see that we have access to another, very different sort of voice in our head that we can employ. And it is wonderful to have that voice modeled out for us. And so as we wind down the actual program component of One Step Closer – though not the steps themselves, of course; they carry on! – I could think of nothing more encouraging than to close out with Kirsty’s voice in our heads saying, “Take heart, now.” Yes, indeed. Wherever you are in your wellbeing recovery, take heart. You have goodness and health within. You will find it.
Wrap up details
This is the last week to fill out the Accountability Track. If you want the 500 extra Virgin Pulse bonus points for participating in the Accountability Track, you must fill this one out! Here's this week's installment! 
The following week I’ll provide the link to the completion form. Again, if you are interested in the standard 500 Virgin Pulse bonus points for participating in this program, you must fill out the survey but I would also really appreciate everyone filling out the survey even if you did nothing with the program so I have some objective, anonymous feedback regarding your thoughts about this program in specific and Wellness Wednesday in general. The only people who need to identify themselves in the survey are those who are interested in the Virgin Pulse points.
And lastly, I have untold gratitude for all the employees who made this program come alive by sharing their lived experience of this pandemic and their vision and plan for coming through it either in the profiled stories or the Accountability Track. It takes a lot of courage to step forward and let people see who you are and what you struggle with. But without that willingness to be real we don’t hear the collective heartbeat. There is no life without a heartbeat. And so thank you for that. It is such a privilege to be allowed into your experiences so we feel normal, that we’re not alone, that we are everybody and everywhere.
With that, thank you all for participating in One Step Closer at whatever level you may have or for simply being aware of our Northern Light wellness offerings if you didn’t, and in the words of the new voice in my head (thank you Kirsty!!), take heart, now.