Dealing With the Negative Voice In Your Head
I wrote yesterday about some things that are negatively impacting my creativity.
One of those things, perhaps the most feckless of those things, is negative self-talk. I don't deal with this issue often, but I'm also stretching the limits of my comfort zone right now so that could be why it's coming up.
Here are 10 ways I'm dealing with this bout of negative self-talk.
1. I talk back to it.
The moment a self-criticism arises, I vigorously disagree with it. I do this out loud if no one else is around (no need to look like a crazy man).
2. I listen to it.
If I'm as open-minded as I like to think I am, then why not be open to what I'm saying to myself? Could this voice be making a salient point? Likely not, but I am trying to see if there is any kernel of a lesson in what the voice is saying.
3. I question it.
If I'm telling myself that I'm embarrassed and should stop trying to get outside my comfort zone, I simply ask back, "Why?" The answer, inevitably, is related to some sort of insecurity. This is useful information and tells me what I need to work on.
4. I smile at it.
In bemusement, as if the voice belongs to another person and I'm mocking the person.
5. I list out all the reasons why it's wrong.
The logical, frontal lobe approach to the problem. I reason why the voice is wrong, so I have evidence to the contrary.
6. I tell it to go f*#k itself.
I tried this one just because it felt so good.
7. I look at myself in the mirror and listen to the voice while watching myself.
This may seem unusual, but it helps to remind me that if I was facing another human being, there is zero chance I would speak to that person as the negative voice speaks to me. Doing this makes it more difficult for that voice to continue with its damaging ways.
8. I take a nap.
Sometimes the solution is nothing more complicated than getting a bit of rest.
9. I look at the mountains.
I'm surrounded by beautiful mountains, so this one is easy for me, but I think a similar effect can be experienced by being near other stunning natural sites (lakes, rivers, etc.). There's something magical about getting lost in natural places that are bigger than ourselves to make us feel humble and content.
10. I carry on.
When Jackie Robinson initially joined the Brooklyn Dodgers as the first African American to play in Major League Baseball, he was tortured with ceaseless taunts, and at times, threats. There were many people who were not ready to see a black man in baseball. Yet, Robinson handled the situation with remarkable aplomb. He kept calmed and carried on, as the saying goes, in the most professional manner - even though it's been discovered years later that it was enormously difficult for him.
Not that I'm comparing myself to Robinson, but I think I can take a similar approach to carry on with my work in a professional manner regardless of the critics - even when the critics are in my own head.