I spent decades of my life saying negative things to myself. As a result, I was unhappy and unsuccessful in nearly everything I did. It wasn’t until I recognized what I was doing, started seeing a therapist, and made the conscious effort to speak to myself with kindness, that things changed for me.
Below I have a list of the top ten things wannabe writers say to themselves that keep them stuck in failure.
6. I’ve Failed Before.
We’ve all failed. The first time you tried to walk, you fell. The first time you tried to eat solid food you spit it out. The first time you tried to read, you got it wrong. I can GUARANTEE that there are grammar and spelling mistakes in this blog post. Failure is a part of life. I’m not a psychotherapist, but I’m going to guess that it’s not the failure that’s the problem here, but the feeling of worthlessness that plays piggyback on that failure. This took me a long time to realize but the truth is, failure doesn’t define me. I am so much more than my series of mistakes. I’m going to fail in the future, that’s a given. But I’m not going to let it keep me down.
What to say to yourself instead: I’m going to fail in big and small ways, but so what?
7. I’m Not As Good As Them So Why Try?
Trying really hard not to eye roll here, bear with me. Of all the excuses on this list, this one is the most cowardly. It’s bad enough that you have no confidence in your God-given skills and abilities, but then you take what you perceive as your weakness and compare it to someone else’s strength and naturally come out lacking. It’s a double whammy against who you are and what you were created to be. You are never going to be as good as anybody. Do you know why? BECAUSE YOU ARE YOU! If you have artistic inclinations, then you have a distinct point of view, a unique voice, a perspective that no one else has ever had (you’ll still have to work hard to make it shine, but still). The world needs you!
If you really, really want to believe that the success of other people is the reason to hide your talent under a bushel, then you should be ashamed of yourself. I want this post to be encouraging and hopeful but I’m half-tempted to tell people who actually believe this crap to stay on the couch, stay in front of Netflix, do nothing. Please. I want your future readers for myself.
What to say to yourself instead: Dangit! I have something to offer!
What to do: Put some blinders on. And for the love of Pete, stop comparing yourself to others.
8. I’m Too Old To Try Anything New.
This one is breaking my crap-o-meter. You are NOT too old. Life is going to pass you by if you don’t pursue your dreams now. You don’t want to come to the end of it and wish you’d take ten minutes every day.
What to say to yourself instead: My kids (and grandkids) need to see me pursue my dreams!
What to do: Read this Huffington Post article about writers who got published later in life. One woman was 99!
9. There’s too much to learn, so it’s too hard.
When it comes to writing and marketing and publishing there is a LOT to learn. The bad news is that there’s always a new app or a new social media platform or a new guru to read. The wealth of information is intimidating and overwhelming. Instead of thinking about how hard it is, choose the easiest thing or most interesting aspect of writing/marketing pursuit and only do that. The good news? Nobody knows and implements it all. The most successful people have put limitations on themselves so that they keep the ever-growing information monster at bay. You can do that too.
What to say to yourself instead: My time is valuable. I’m going to focus on one aspect of my goals, like writing, and learn a little bit every day.
What to do: Find one or two blogs on writing to follow. Read one book at a time. Don’t panic over what is left, just do what you can when you can.
10. I Don’t Have Anything Worthwhile To Say
Deep sigh. Then a hug. Then another sigh. I totally get this. Sometimes the desires that we have to write are lonely. They don’t exactly have ideas to play with. Personally, I’ve found that ideas, for some reason, inspire other ideas. The act of creating sometimes can spawn new inspiration and then you have something to say, something you didn’t know was in you.
What to say to yourself instead: Hey Muse! I’m going to sit down to work, you’re going to join me!
What to do: Write for 10 minutes about anything. Sign up for Sarah Selecky’s daily writing prompts. Then, watch this Ted Talk about the creative muse by Elizabeth Gilbert (this is my all-time favorite Ted Talk. It makes me cry every time!)
If you are saying any of these things to yourself, then you will most certainly fail.
The reason? This negative self-talk is a paralyzer.
It fosters inaction.
The antidote is two-fold: say positive things and take baby steps out.
Make sure the voice you use is the one that can keep you motivate, encourage yourself to succeed and keep hope alive.
It took me about 20 seconds to come up with ten because I’ve said every single one of these to myself. I know how powerful these lies are.
So, what else are you saying to yourself that could be keeping you down?
What can you say to yourself instead?
What can you do to change everything?