My story stinks!
I can’t write worth beans.
Who would ever want to read this?
How many times have you said things like that to yourself? More than you care to admit, if you’re anything like me.
Self-defeating thoughts are one of Twelve Troublemakers that plague me as a writer. I’m exploring one a week. This is the sixth in the series.
Those uninvited and unwelcome thoughts will visit on occasion. They come knocking, and it can be tough to resist them. They’re pesky, persistent, and pushy. And they do us no good. Therefore, we must learn to resist, to fight back, to shut the door in their face.
How? Glad you asked, because I have some ideas you might find helpful.
7 Strategies for Overcoming Self-defeating Thoughts
Don’t listen to the lies. ~ Self-defeating thoughts will come, but we don’t have to listen to them. Think of a small child who is told something she doesn’t want to hear. She covers her ears and chants “I can’t hear you” with impressive volume. While we’re too mature to take such action, we can do so figuratively. Choose not to listen, and fill your mind with other thoughts. If you’re inclined to pray, talk to God. You could give yourself a pep talk. It’s hard to hear pesky voices when we’re talking.
Watch your self-talk. ~ Muttering negative thoughts to ourselves about ourselves does us no good. Doing so is like issuing those stinky thoughts an invitation to a pity party. When talking to yourself, avoid the temptation to put yourself or your writing down. Instead, learn to compliment yourself. You don’t have to exaggerate or try to fool yourself with grandiose statements such as “Look out Oprah! Here I come.” Sincere, truthful compliments such as “Nice metaphor!” or “Check out that snappy dialogue!” can do wonders to ward off self-defeating thoughts.
Seek the truth. ~ Learning to engage in positive self-talk can take time. On our down days, we can have trouble believing we’ve written anything but garbáge. One way to help is to seek truth about ourselves from what others say. I’m not saying we should ask others to shower us with praise. We can train ourselves to notice nice things people say about us and our writing. Sources include comments on our blogs, replies to comments we leave on others’ blogs, emails, feedback from critique partners and contest judges.
Accept the truth. ~ When someone says something nice about us or our work, we can choose to believe them. On days when we feel down, there can be a tendency to doubt the truth in anything positive. Remembering that people usually say what they mean can help. After all, most people give sincere compliments. Don’t you? We can learn to accept those that come our way graciously.
Establish a support system. ~ Surrounding ourselves with people who believe in us and want to see us realize our dreams is not only wise, it’s also healthy. Reach out to others and make new friends. Doing so online is easy these days with so many blogs and social networks available. Over time, some of the friendships will deepen, and we’ll have a group of supportive friends who can offer encouragement when we’re feeling blue.
Set up a Sunshine Folder. ~ Credit for the name of the folder goes to author Gina Holmes. She used the term in her Novel Journey post “What is it really like to be published?” A sunshine folder is a place where one saves uplifting letters and emails to read, as Gina put it so well, “on days I feel like a miserable hack.” We can set up a folder on our computers as a place to save those encouraging snippets from emails, blog comments, messages on our loops, etc. and another for those rare but oh, so sweet handwritten notes and cards that come by snail mail.
Create a Wall of Fame. ~ If you’re a visual person like me, you might enjoy creating a Wall of Fame. This is a place in our writing space where we can hang items that remind us of our successes. Some possibilities include: contest certificates; articles we’ve published (yes, your church or local chapter newsletter counts); a judge’s comment that meant a great deal, printed out and framed; a helpful critique from a published author. Some might not agree with me on this, but I used to have my first rejection letter on my wall. It proved I was serious about pursuing publication and had done what many only talk about doing; I had completed a book and sent it out into the big wide world. The object is to include items that have positive memories and encourage us to keep reaching for our dreams.
Your Thoughts . . . and a Drawing
Do self-defeating thoughts wiggle their way into your writing world?
What are some ways you shove self-defeating thoughts out of your mind?
If you set up a Wall of Fame in your writing room, what would you put on it?
One person who leaves a comment and answers one of these questions will win the skunk pictured above. If you don’t have a use for this cute little Folkmanis finger puppet, you could always share it with a child or grandchild. Plus, I’ll add a surprise for you.
I’ll hold the drawing Sunday, March 20th and post the winner’s name in the post published the next day, when I’ll introduce the next of the Twelve Troublemakers.
Mosey the Meandering Mouse from last Monday’s drawing went to Maggie Fechner.