We're awfully hard on ourselves, our own worst enemies. At least I am! And I suspect I'm not so different from other creatives: I'm judgmental of myself --hyper critical at the best of times. My thoughts run all over:
- That thing I just said? How idiotic!
- What a lump for not speaking up.
- Oh god, I look bad today!
And when it comes to my writing, it's even worse, because the voices are so insidious and ingrained. It is such a familiar thought pattern that sometimes I don't even notice it. When I do, it runs something like this:
- This work isn't good enough.
- Is that the right word? You idiot, that's not the right word.
- They're not going to like it.
- It's not good enough to sell.
And so on and so forth. I'm sure you can add some of your own to the list! (And let me be perfectly clear here--there is a difference between unloving critical thoughts and loving critical thoughts--the latter help us hone our skills, rewrite until the work shines, and strive for excellence.)
Do you know anybody who is as openly judgmental and critical as the voice in your head? I don't. If I spent all day every day with someone as condemning as the voice in my head, I'd be physically withered at the end of the day. And yet, that's exactly what's happening in our brains.
The solution? Try turning love on it. Warning: this is not easy. And if you're successful at it, the practice will change your life. Also, it's a process--you have to keep going back at it over and over again. You have to consistently apply it to your life and your writing.
So herewith is a process to apply to self-judgment:
1. Become aware. Pay attention to those nasty little comments flinging about your brain.
2. Fight back. Sometimes called denials, this is when instead of cowering under the onslaught of all those vicious words, you make a stand and refuse to accept them. Mentally uttering "That thought I do not want" (a Course in Miracles saying) is one way to do this.
3. Form a new thought. And then love bomb your brain with it, constantly, all day, and especially every time the old thought comes up. Maybe something like:
- I am powerful. (My writing is powerful.)
- I am enough. (My writing is enough.)
- I am a creator.
- Whatever thought works for your individual circumstance.
The idea being to let thoughts like these become the constant soundtrack running in the background. I know it's woo-woo, and it's ever so much more pleasant to think this way than the other.
4. It might get worse before it gets better. Because old negative thoughts don't go without a fight. And one way they fight is to get stronger when they fear being eradicated. But don't fall for their devious plan.
5. Stick with it. As I said, this process takes time. Those fearful thoughts didn't get there overnight. They lodged in your brain over a lifetime.
What do you think? Willing to give it a try? Or do you have another technique for quieting that voice? Please comment.
Photo by Victory to the People.