What to do when your brain tells you that you suck
You know the voice in your head I'm talking about, the one that says:
"You're going to fail at this, why even bother?"
"You're faking it and everyone is going to know."
"You should just quit now."
"So and so is way better at this than you, let her do it."
"You're never going to get anywhere."
"They're going to hate it."
"Why is abbreviated such a long word?"
I might be the only one thinking that about the last one.
If the voice in your head DOESN'T say these things to you, then please tell us your secrets. It doesn't matter how long you've been doing what you're doing. Even if you're a master or a demi-god who is so good at your craft that people pay you all the dollars and you have a waiting list as long as a vineyard - this voice is still there.
It get's smaller and quieter over time as you learn to tell it to take a walk. I'm not sure we can ever squash the self-doubt monster.
There are some things you can do to turn the volume down on that voice in your head so that a Whisper 2000 can barely detect it.
- Have a cancel process. When you say something stupid or out of line, you can say, "Wait! I take that back!" Do the same with your thinking. Say it out loud if you like. But when I thought creeps up that dulls your shine, say something in your head like, "Cancel, cancel, cancel," or, "delete, delete, delete," or "Shut the f*ck up!" Stop that little turd of a thought in its tracks.
- Tell a better story. Newsflash: YOU are in charge of your thoughts. You can change them whenever you like. Hear a load of crap in your ear? Stop that thought and tell yourself another one. You don't have to be all woo about it and tell yourself that you're a sparkly rainbow of goodness, use words you'd use with friends, like, "Dude, that's totally not true."
- Create a thank bank. A thank bank is a visual reminder of how rad you really are. I keep mine in Evernote. Every time I get a gushing email, or a small note of thanks or praise, I take a copy and store it in my thank bank. On days when my thoughts are running wild, and maybe I actually DO suck at something, I read through my thank bank and feel so much better.
- Write a thank you note. Write it to yourself if you like, but sharing a few words of thanks to someone else will get you out of your own head. You're also giving someone material to add to their thank bank while you turn off the uninvited guest in your head.
Feeling particular sucky lately? I'd be happy to share a virtual high-five with you. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me what's up. It's really me, and I'll respond with thank bank material. No woo, I promise.