Banish Negative Self-Talk To Improve Your Confidence (and Your Writing!)
Learn to silence any voices that say you can't, shouldn't, or never will.
I saw an acquaintance at the gym yesterday who asked me how business was going.
“I’m swamped!” I vented immediately. “A ton of projects came in right at the new year.”
“Wow,” she said flatly, turning to walk away. “Sounds stressful. Good luck!”
Later, I revisited the interaction in my head. Instead of having a nice conversation together, I said the first negative thing that came to mind, which shifted the discussion into meltdown mode. Not a pleasant place to be…which is why my friend quickly removed herself.
Instead of saying simply, “I have lots of new clients,” or even “Business is booming!” my mind immediately went to a negative place where lots of new work automatically equals lots of new stress. Why?
At the moment, I don’t pretend to know the answer to that question exactly. Instead, I’m more interested in what we can learn from this conversation, and how we can apply that to both our confidence and our writing as we embark on a new year.
Here are the two big lessons I take away:
1. Reframe to Refocus
One of the most powerful things we can to do bolster our self-confidence is to reframe our self-talk. If you’re not familiar with the concept, self-talk comprises the inner dialogue we keep up in our minds, which has the power to both positively and negatively affect our outlook on situations.
In my example above, I could have thought for a second and reframed my negative stressful emotion into one of enthusiasm. After all, having lots of new clients is definitely exciting! I just have to train my brain to see it that way initially.
The same concept applies when you’re trying to focus on a goal.
Earlier this week I wrote “go for run” in my planner for that afternoon. Objectively, this was a great idea: I needed the exercise, and more importantly Tuesday was one of the four gorgeous days we’re allocated here in Houston every year.
Unfortunately, it’s also the week after the holidays, and I hadn’t run in about 20 days (plenty of cookies, though). Did I really want to try to run again now? Just the thought of my likely performance made me depressed.
Then I tried something new: next to “go for run,” I drew a smiley face. I can’t draw well at all (nope, not even just lines), so the sight of its wonky grimace made me smile myself. This made me feel just a bit more positive about heading out on that run…enough to make me promise myself I’d at least put on shoes and get outside. It’s a start!
You can do the same thing when focusing on a big writing goal.
Instead of getting overwhelmed by how difficult it looks or the huge amount of work in front of you, reframe your thinking: focus on the pride you’ll feel when it’s finished, or the inspiration you felt that led you to get started in the first place.
2. Remember Your Power
Reframing can also be very helpful when it comes to thinking about our own writing talents.
For example, nearly every client I meet with says or writes some variation of the following at the beginning of our work together:
“I wrote this, but I don’t think it’s good enough.”
“I have lots of ideas, but they might not be interesting enough.”
“I worked really hard on this and I think it’s powerful, but I could be wrong.”
What would happen if we reframed all those thoughts?
In this case, it’s as simple as stopping at the comma:
“I wrote this.”
“I have lots of ideas.”
“I worked really hard on this and I think it’s powerful.”
It’s surprisingly hard for most of us to claim our skills without adding a caveat right behind.
As simple as this solution is in print, it’s surprisingly hard for most of us to claim our skills without adding a caveat right behind. In our heads, there’s usually something limiting following that “but…”
However, as someone who gets a bird’s-eye view on your talent, let me assure you none of that negativity is justified.
Sometimes I wish I could just shake you (gently!) through the internet and say: Yes, your writing IS interesting enough! Your ideas ARE good enough! YOU are enough!!
Does that mean there’s no work to be done? Of course not. It means we can be more efficient about DOING that work if we stop beating ourselves up about it.
This year, I challenge you to remember your power and reframe that negative self-talk. If you’re intentional about it, you’ll be amazed at the effects on your mental health and the quality of what you’re producing – written and otherwise.
What do you have a bad habit of telling yourself? How can you resolve to reframe any of those thoughts this year, and how do you think this will affect your writing?