It’s been a long time since I have written something. Well that is not entirely true. I write all the time…but decline to share any of it. The pieces I write lately feel common, contrived, just kinda blah, a little meh. They leave me unsatisfied like a weak drink (such a waste of calories, man) or getting this close to you knowing whatting and then out of nowhere the feeling goes away (I’m talking about sneezing, you dirty birds! haha I’m totally not.)
My thought process was, if I felt that way about my writing, who on earth would want to read it?
To get myself back on track, a colleague recommended I read the book The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield. Pressfield tells us that we are obligated to share our talents and skills with the world in the event that talent or skill can help someone. His book is chock full of awesome advice on beating the ‘resistance’, as he calls it, that oppresses us daily, but this particular snippet was especially poignant to me.
People (like more than two so that counts, right?) have reached out asking me “Where is your writing?” They missed it. They took something from it. They wanted more of it.
Maybe if I embraced this idea that I was obligated to others, it would help me get over this resistance I have manifested that has kept me from sharing my writing?
I started to think about that resistance, where it came from, where it lived, where it was rooted. After some soul searching over the course of several long international flights and one too-short girls’ night, it finally occurred to me the origin of my resistance: the lies I tell myself.
If you tell yourself something long enough, you start to believe it. Whether it is good or whether it is bad, it will become your truth and it will project on all your ambitions. If it is good, it will make them grow. If it is bad, it will, hinder them, stifle them, even snuff them out if you let it.
This is very basic stuff, I know! We all know our inner voice should be one of kindness and compassion and encouragement. I don’t know when I allowed the crappy side of my inner voice to get louder. It’s like one day, there she was, just chattering away like a squawking parrot on my shoulder and I haven’t been able to shake her since.
So I’m sharing my lies with you in the hopes that saying them out loud will help them go away.
Lie #1: The most egregious of my self-destructive fabrications is the constant need to remind myself that any success I have is both temporary and the result of outside forces (i.e., karma, sponsors, timing, etc) rather than my own effort. Every raise, every promotion, every speaking opportunity, every family success I experience, I give the credit to others. Meanwhile, the anxiety that these things will vanish at any minute grows in my chest like a knot, increasingly getting tighter.
Ironically, I am literally living my best life these days! It’s the freaking blue bird of happiness has made a nest in my ridiculously well-behaved hair for goodness sake. Which makes this perpetual waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop mindset especially obnoxious because it’s preventing me from enjoying the fruits of my labor. And WTF is the purpose of succeeding if you don’t enjoy everything you have worked for?
I think I do this to myself as a defense mechanism; I never want to be caught off guard, never surprised by ugliness. It’s also important to me to remain humble, to be grateful for the support of others (and perfect timing!), but I’m realizing it cannot be at the expense of my own worth. I have been missing that balance.
They say the first step to healing is admittance, so here goes:
I work my ass off and I deserve all the good things that come to me.
There, I said it.
Lie #2: I don’t know what I’m doing. To be fair, at any given moment there is a 50% chance I may not actually know what I am doing…but in every case, I will apply the MTSU (make that shit up) method and it will be based on experience, intuition, and knowledge that I do in fact possess. My boss tells me this is his tactic and a tactic of every successful leader he’s known.
So, I have concluded that not knowing what you’re doing but making an educated guess anyway is actually knowing exactly what you’re doing! #problemsolved
Lie #3: I’m not good in the spotlight. Indeed, I get heartburn every time I present to a group. When I’m called on during a meeting to share my thoughts, I practically choke, my mind suddenly blank, the brilliant thought I just had having taken off for an early vacation. Before I step on stage, I have to talk myself through a panic attack, will myself not to throw up on the podium.
I envy people with the charisma, the charm, the do-not-skip-a-beat timing that holds the crowd’s focus, keeps us engaged, and leaves us rewarded for our attention. I wish I had that presence.
Pressfield has a theory on embracing the things that scare us the most. He says that often those things that conjure up the most fear in us are probably the exact thing we should be doing because innately we know we’d actually kill it.
#IRL, once I get past the anxiety, once I swallow back that gag-worth feeling, in the instant before I open my mouth to share my thoughts with the audience before me, another feeling overcomes the fear: I got this.
And I totally do. I make jokes. I remember my points. I make an impact…and I can’t wait to do it all over again.
Lie #4: On both a personal and professional level, I have struggled for years with one particularly exhausting lie: I owe everyone my time.
Every email deserved a response. Every call needed to be returned. Every invitation needed a ‘yes’ RSVP. And every friend, co-worker, and acquaintance, even those whose presence did not bring me joy, still deserved my time. Why? Because I thought this attention would make me more respected, liked, and admired.
When, in fact, the opposite is true. By giving everyone your time, you get sucked into other people’s drama, overwhelmed by endless email chains, take on projects outside your scope, volunteer for way too many PTA/Scout/sport-related activities and neglect yourself in the meantime. This serves no one well.
Recently, I read You are a Badass by Jen Sincero who reminds us, “It’s about respecting yourself, instead of catering to your insecure need to be liked.” #whoa
She also notes:
- Do not waste your precious time giving one single crap about what anybody else thing of you.
- Surround yourself with people who think the way you want to think.
- Give painful people the heave-ho (even if it breaks your heart).
Great stuff and truths to live by.
Lie #5: All the other terrible bullshit bologna I tell myself. I’m fat. I’m look like crap. I’m short (unfortunately actually true LOL). I don’t run enough (I have bad knees!) I drink too much (Really?). I’m a bad mom (seriously, just put on your shoes for the love of Jehovah!) I have bad skin (pimples make you look younger right?). My teeth are crooked. I should eat more kale (No. More. Kale.). I’m too emotional (which I have already analyzed here). I shouldn’t have said that. What did I say that?? Blah blah blah…that train of endless negativity is wearing me out!
Sincero writes to all us badasses out there: “Never apologize for who you are. It lets the whole world down.”
I need to try harder to live this mantra. And thank you to those of you who have called me out on this.
Recommended reading: The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield and You are a Badass, How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero