Talking back to the doubts and the inner critic

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I recently addressed the topic of self-worth here  and It got me thinking of other doubts I allow to roam freely in my mind. I decided to lasso up as many as I could and confront them directly.

In no particular order, these relate to personal matters as well as with my writing.

Accusation: You’re not good enough.

TRUTH: This pops up under a variety of circumstances. Every time it’s clearly untrue: I’m competent at my job. I have friends and family who love and care about me. And the only real way people have asked me to change is to embrace and love myself more.

Accusation: No one cares.

TRUTH: Laughable, really. It’s true that not everyone will care or understand, but that doesn’t mean what I have to say isn’t worth sharing. It took someone a few years ago to point out “if it’s important to you, it’s worth sharing.” Again, it doesn’t mean that everyone gets it or appreciates it. But that shouldn’t stop you from offering an opinion or sharing a story.

Accusation: So many others could do it better.

TRUTH: That may be true, but why should that stop me? Just because others might be better or more competent in doing something doesn’t mean they’re making it a priority or even putting their skills to use in that manner.

Accusation: You’ve got too small of an audience … or … You’ve got to have big numbers to make a difference.

TRUTH: Reaching one person makes a difference. We can get caught up in the idea that we have to do big things but the reality is that very few reach that stage. Instead of trying to draft a plan for world peace, we have to start in our lives, then our family and then within the community if possible. Reaching one person has a ripple effect. A smile or compliment offered to someone can brighten a person’s day. In turn, that person is more likely to do the same for someone else. And the pattern continues. Likewise, sharing an idea or an opinion and reaching a single person can have more of an impact than we’ll likely actually know.

Accusation: No one can relate. It’s not worth sharing on the blog.

TRUTH: Every time I think this, someone new decided to follow the blog. Or I’ll get a comment from someone about how they hadn’t thought about the topic in that way before. This lie is constantly proven false.

Accusation: This is such an insignificant moment. Why bother sharing? … or … Why are you making a big deal out of this?

TRUTH: It may seem small to me, but it could be something someone else really needs to hear. It’s part of my journey. Why should any of it be considered insignificant? While I often feel like I’m giving a day-by-day account of things, that’s not what’s actually happening. There is a lot of analysis and recapping in the writing.

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Confronting the inner critic means using the Lasso of Truth, right? …         When else will I have a natural opportunity to reference Wonder Woman?

Accusation: Other writers have a bigger following; they’re the ones making an impact.

TRUTH: Other writers and bloggers might have a wider audience and a bigger following because they spend more time trying to generate those numbers. I probably don’t spend as much time on that aspect of things as they do. I haven’t gone too far out of the way to recruit readers, so I need to stop making those comparisons. They’ve also likely been doing this longer than I have. But just because there’s a difference in readership and interaction doesn’t mean that my efforts aren’t making an impact. I’ve gotten feedback to prove it. … Being authentic, open and caring will win out more in the long run than something that’s all flash and no substance

Accusation: Your Sensory Processing Disorder symptoms are milder than others or less debilitating. You’re not special. … or … Your problems are smaller so you shouldn’t even bother.

TRUTH: (No one has said this to me. But for some reason, I still get hammered with these thoughts.) Not everyone can write and explain situations. I’m offering a service. Just because someone else has more of a challenge doesn’t take away from the frustrations I face. We’re not in competition.

Accusation: You’re living in the past.

TRUTH: This is a clever lie. While my writing is focused on the past, there’s a purpose for doing so. This isn’t about reliving the glory days and refusing to acknowledge my life as it is right now. I’m trying to learn from my past. You have to open up the wounds so you can heal from them completely. Look at things head on and examine them instead of having a romanticized concept of what things were like. I’m breaking the chains and changing the way I view myself so I can be free from what has held me back.

Accusation: You’re so negative. How come you can’t write about something positive? … or … You’re remembering the negative to elicit sympathy.

TRUTH: That’s how I remember things. The negative and painful moments are the ones that were cataloged in my mind. They are the ones with the lasting impression. But it’s also in those moments that I’m seeing more good. Untangling the effort from the mistakes. And that’s also why I’ve incorporated snippets from my journal entries. Those are primary sources, offering first hand accounts of how I felt at the time instead of just relying on my memory.

Accusation: People go undiagnosed with problems all the time. Why does your story matter?

TRUTH: Because I can write about it now in a way I couldn’t express before so that others can understand. And maybe I can offer hope to someone else facing these problems or who also learned later in life about their condition. If I can help just one person not feel like they’re all alone, then it’s worth it.

Accusation: You started out focusing on moments specifically related to Sensory Processing Disorder. But now it’s like you’re using the blog like a diary, talking about other random things. What’s up with that?

TRUTH: It’s all meaningful in the big picture. For me, many of the things that bothered me got buried and suppressed. So those encounters are less memorable during college. What I really struggled with were social situations and my mental health. That’s what the writing focuses on for these college years.

Accusation: You’re going to turn people off by discussing your faith.

TRUTH: Oh well. It’s a big part of my journey. The wondering and questioning. Trying to figure out my place and who I am. I’m not trying to convert anyone. But for those who know me in real life, I think these reflections help them get to know me on a deeper level. It’s cool to see the stats pop up for the entries that are heavily religious. A lot of readers are from different countries that have much less religious freedom than I have in the United States. It’s cool to think that I was able to reach a person on the other side of the world.

Accusation: Writing about yourself is selfish.

TRUTH: This thought plagued me when I first got started. I slowly shifted my perspective that I’m writing for family and friends so that they can finally understand what life has been like. So I could put it in words that others can understand. I saw it as a way of explaining one time for a lot of people. But writing about yourself and your experiences is a good starting point. All the experts recommend writing what you know to get going. But even if no one else could benefit from what I’ve shared so far, I can. I’m seeing myself in a completely different way now and this process is helping me break down my remaining barriers. And healing. Lots of healing.

Accusation: Oh, I had a lot more interaction with and comments from readers before I began writing about my college years. Hmm. I must have turned people off.

TRUTH: (Not intended to add pressure to any readers. This is just something that lingers, a natural concern that comes up. I’m working toward developing a healthier way of measuring my connection with readers.)

There are so many reasons why people don’t comment. I can’t assume it’s because of me. They may think it’s too personal and just want to remain a bystander. Or maybe saying “thanks for sharing” seems repetitive after a while and they want to say something else but nothing comes to mind. Or maybe they don’t know what to focus on for a comment. I don’t know. There are plenty of explanations. But it’s pointless to assume responsibility for this. I’ve opened things up for public viewing. Their interaction is out of my hands.

Accusation: Starting a public blog isn’t brave. You’re hiding behind a screen name. Real courage would be reading and sharing these entries verbally.

TRUTH: I struggle with this one a lot. When I tell friends that I have trouble seeing this blog as taking major courage, they’re stumped. The sharing is highly personal. But because I choose to share through writing, I often see it as a cop out because the writing comes easier than verbal. Why do I lessen its value simply because I’m utilizing a skill? Makes no sense.

NOTE TO READERS: Don’t forget that you can talk back to your inner critics, too! I recommend it. It’s highly liberating. If you have similar negative thoughts and doubts swimming in your mind, right them down. And then take time to respond. Set the record straight. Stand up for yourself.

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