The voice in your head, you know the one that tells you how much of a screw up you are? Yeah, that one. Well, what would you say if I told you that it’s a liar and a thief and you should treat it as such? Mine used to be such a b*tch to me, but I’m happy to announce that at the tender age of 47, I’ve finally got my inner mean-girl under control.
The journaling that I bang on about all the time is my number one defence against the dark arts of my mind. Seriously, writing those pages each day takes 30 minutes of my time but it’s worth every second. And there are added benefits too. Today I cottoned-on to a couple of flaws in a story I have been working on, and a couple of days ago, I basically wrote a blog-post by hand.
Of course, my ego still pops up to remind me of all the ways I could die, be humiliated and fail when I start a new project or tackle my marketing plan for my writing.
Dr. Eric Maisel suggests a great way of dealing with our ego/inner-critic that is easy to do if we can remember to do it while in the grip of our ‘voices’. It’s a three-step process.
So you’re a painter wandering through a beautiful commercial gallery selling expensive paintings, or a writer, browsing in a bookshop. The little (or big) voice pipes up and says something like “Wow, will you look at all these amazing paintings, these guys are so talented. My work is not this polished. I’ll never be able to get representation like this.” or “There are so many books. The last thing the world needs now is another writer!”
Okay! Step one – acknowledge any truth in the statement. Yes, the paintings are polished. The painters are talented and maybe right at this moment, your own work isn’t as polished. And yes, there are a lot of books on the shelves. Those things are true. You can’t deny that.
Step 2 – Dispute it immediately! Call bull-sh*t on that nasty stuff coming out of your mouth. Would you speak to your child that way? You’re a busy person, you’ve got no time for negativity.
Shut your inner critic down with, “This statement isn’t serving me.” The awareness of the negativity is half the battle won. A word of warning, though, your ego isn’t going to like you speaking back to it. For some evolutionary reason, our minds seem to thrive on the crap we like to heap on ourselves…maybe it’s like fertiliser! Unfortunately, it’s only the negativity that grows if we don’t pull the weeds!
Step 3 – We need to replace the critical element in those statements with positives!
The painter can say “It’s so great to see the level of work I need to produce so I can approach the kind of gallery I would like to represent me and sell my work. I know what I have to work towards.” And the writer working on their first novel, “My story is unique and by marketing it well, I will find my audience.”
Even if we feel a little like we’re bullsh*tting ourselves at first, if we follow through with daily action on those positive statements, soon enough we will find that the proof of the pudding is in the tasting!
So keep writing, keep painting, no matter what the ego says about it! I use another of Dr. Maisel’s affirmative statements that seems specifically tailored to the challenge of marketing my work. I tell myself daily “I AM EQUAL TO THIS TASK” and I’m starting to believe it. Each day I work a little more on my marketing plan and each day, I have little breakthroughs.
Quote of the Day
You can’t go back in time and change the things that happened, but you can change the meanings you’ve given those things in your mind ~ Dr. Beau Lotto
What One thing can you do today to make your life 1% better? It doesn’t have to cost money…and could be as simple as cleaning out your car.
IF YOU DO THIS FOR 30 DAYS, MAKE YOUR LIFE JUST 1% BETTER EACH DAY, IMAGINE WHAT IT COULD MEAN. I was going to say your life will be 30% better, but that’s not allowing for the compound interest…
Thanks for the reminders. Sometimes, just replacing the negative thought with something positive is all we need. But, takes time and practice! How do we teach this to our kids? I have a ten year old who is his worst critic.
Hi Jenny. Thanks for reading and taking the time to write a comment.
We can model this process for the kids in our lives. I still do this for my 19 year old on occasion. Doing the process out loud for ourselves and explaining as we go, and also gently guiding him through it when he criticises himself. Awareness is essential so even simply spending a week identifying when we are critical of things around us can help. Most of us don’t realise how negative we are on a daily basis because we’ve grown up with it! My dad, bless him, was so critical when I was a kid so for me it’s his voice I internalised sadly.
Do you think that modelling the steps will work for your son? Let me know how it goes. Also Due Quach has a great book called Calm Clarity and a website with lots of great exercises etc for kids. Xx
This comes to me at a perfect time for him. He’s a great basketball player, but has been playing with older kids this season and the challenge has him very discouraged. Showing badly on the court. I worked with him some yesterday, but I think I will officially use these steps with him starting today. He’s so outwardly negative about his performance and it shows on the court. It’s really getting ahold of his confidence. I’ll keep you posted.
I’m so glad to help. I was thinking of you today. I know with myself the self criticism is also a desire for acknowledgment and encouragement. This might not be his case, but it certainly was for me. Reassurance of my ‘worth’… that’s tough for him, playing up a grade. So wonderful you are aware and guiding him. Have you read Steve Biddhulf’s Raising Boys? Amazing book.
No, I haven’t read that, but I’ll look into it. Thanks.
I ordered the book. We are working on it. Thanks for your advice.
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