No More Downplaying: Period

I have a real issue with acknowledging my achievements and talents in my life.  Self-doubt has always been such a big problem for me.  It’s almost as if I think that I don’t deserve whatever it is I accomplished or my God-given talents.  Take my recent weight loss as a prime example.  I have lost over 30 pounds in the past 11 months.  That’s a big freaking deal by anyone’s standards.  But to me, seeing as though it took me damn near a year to do this, it wasn’t good enough.  My thinking was that I should have lost more in that time.  I belittled all the hard work, sweaty workouts, sore muscles and hours of meal planning I put into the process.  None of that shit was easy or fun to do, trust me.  So why do I continue to do this to myself?  I think it’s because no matter how far I may have come; I always see how far I still have to go.  Even though I have lost over 30 pounds, I tend to mostly focus on the weight I still have left to lose.  For me, this isn’t exclusive for just my weight loss.  This has translated to most of the things I have achieved and to my goals.

I have a tendency to downplay MOST if not all of my accomplishments and talents.  And it’s totally not a, “I’m trying to stay humble” thing. It’s more of a, “I sort of did it, but damn I still have so much farther to go” thing.  See the problem?  Often times I can’t pat myself on the back for doing something that I worked really hard to do.  Some things that even people who know me wish they could have done.  That’s the very thing I have been told a few times by several different people  They say this in regards to my recent weight loss and also about the things that I have written that they have read.  But since I’m nowhere I want to be and in my mind, “still have so far to go” it means almost nothing.  Career-wise, I’m nowhere close to where I want to be either.  My career goal is to be a full-time author.  To be more specific, I want to write fiction books for adults and children.  I have been doing the biggest step of all to achieve this goal and that is to simply write.  The more writing one does, the better they become right?  The negative side of my thinking always says this step isn’t shit if no one has read what I have written. But regardless of how small, it’s bringing me closer to my goal of being on the New York Times Best Sellers List.  I have been writing much more than I have been in the past few years, which is a bit of an achievement in itself.  I have been submitting my poetry to different publications and have gotten published.  That’s a big one because (as per usual in my mind) my work isn’t all that great.  SIDEBAR:  I received my first professional review of a poem I wrote.  The critic wrote that my poem was, “the first piece I return to after a long day of work to find my calm.”   Cool huh?!

For someone who doesn’t know anything about me to say that my poem was one of her top three favorites in the anthology, has to speak to my writing abilities.  I have to really start training my mind to believe and know that I have a talent for writing.  I must start giving myself credit for continuing to go after my dreams.  Whatever effort I’m making (big or small) it is getting me closer and closer to the finish line.  And I should celebrate every victory with an enthusiastic pat on the back.  I am starting to learn to accept the fact that I am the shit for even making a serious effort to accomplish anything.  The person I was a few years ago would never have attempted the things that I have recently. I think that the downplaying I still do sometimes is a bit of the old me that reside inside.  She always has something less than stellar to say.  Who knows, she may always live in the small relics of my mind.  But I can’t let her or anyone else put a damper on my accomplishments, talents, dreams or goals.  Last Thursday I had the pleasure of going to see an R&B band that I love called, “The Internet.”  I had the privilege of getting some sound advice from one of the members named Matt.  I told him that I was a writer and a future New York Times Bestselling author. Speak it into existence right?  I told him that most times I am filled with so much self-doubt I can’t see how I will accomplish my dreams. I also let him know that despite that, I know that I’m a damn good writer.  But that I have trouble remembering that all the time.  He told me that that sort of thing happens to most people, but that I had to keep positive thoughts always.  I have to be my biggest supporter no matter what.  And that I should always know that anything is possible no matter how impossible it may seem.  I knew all those things before he said them to me.  And I have thought them myself before.  But to hear them from someone whom I just met, and is a fellow artist like me put them into a direct perspective this time.  Thank you, Matt, for putting everything back into perspective for me with your wise words.

So what am I going to do to improve this pointless, negative behavior?  I’m going to start focusing on what I actually did to accomplish the goal.  If someone actually compliments me on an achievement I reached or even notices the effort given, I will sincerely take the compliment.  I will start looking at how far I’ve come as opposed to how far I still have to go.  With my writing, I will pay more attention to writing quality blogs people can relate too rather than obsessing about getting my views numbers up.  If I write good stuff and stay consistent, they will come.  It’s all comes down to how I look at things and what I focus on.  If I (and you) continue to look at how far we still have yet to go, then not only are we downplaying our achievements but we are slowing down our progress.  And trying to achieve anything is challenging enough, why add more unnecessary crap to that?  And above all of that, I truly have to remember this:  I AM THE SHIT.  Period.  I’m good at what I do.  Writing is my God-given talent.   And I have been blessed with the strength, drive, and hunger to get anything I want in this life.  So from this moment on, I’ll do my best to only look at how much I have progressed in my journey.  My advice is not to let a setback (or what you perceive as small steps) keep you from patting yourself on the back for a job well done.  Know that you’re doing your best and you too are the shit.  If you don’t think that you’re killing it at working toward your goals, then you won’t be.  And again, who needs that unnecessary crap on their minds?

 

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Clean up the milk and move on…

(Disclaimer- I proofread this thing a dozen times and used an online site to help. If you see any mistakes, I’m only human and not perfect. Thanks for reading!)

If you read last week’s post, then you know that I love listening to a podcast called, “The Read” hosted by Crissle and Kid Fury.  In the episode called, “Cheerleader”, Crissle spoke on her depression, seeing her therapist and the advice given by the therapist.  The therapist compared negative self-talk to running a race. (See last week’s post for full description.)  Crissle’s therapist went on to give an example about forgiving your past mistakes.  Her therapist said, “Let’s say a child spilled a cup of milk.  Are you going to every time you see that child, every day for the rest of their life be like, remember the time when you were 5 and 38 days and you spilled milk?  And I had to use three of my good Bounty’s to clean it up?  And replace my eight ounces of milk.  Are you going to drag that baby for that?  Or are we going to clean up the milk and move on with our fucking lives?”  From that moment on, Crissle decided that she had to clean up the milk in her life.  She would stop blaming herself non-stop and start looking forward again. Bam!  It hit me like a ton of bricks!  Is that what I have been doing the majority of my adult life?  Bitching over milk I spilled when I was young, naive and didn’t know any better.  Constantly berating myself over and over for situations that no longer exist and couldn’t be changed anyway.  Being my own biggest critic/ hater has always been a real hotbed issue for me.  After hearing the example that Crissle’s therapist gave her, I fully comprehend what my problem has been.  I have a lack of compassion for myself.  Isn’t that a fucked up thing to find out about yourself.

My understanding and heart is always so large for others.  I am able to fully support others with mistakes they have made in the past with my encouraging words.  But when it comes to having those same words for myself, there’s been little to none.  It is as if I don’t allow myself space to make mistakes or bad decisions.  For some reason, that is not allowed in my world.  For me, it’s not so much that I’m trying to be perfect.  I know this will never happen.  And that is completely all right with me.  Trying to be perfect, looks like a lot of work that I simply wouldn’t be dedicated to doing.  So where does my lack of self-compassion stem from?  Why is it that I can be so kind and uplifting for others, but not myself?  I am very skilled at stopping someone from beating themselves up.  I’m also very good at telling someone to have more patience with themselves and quick to say, “Everyone makes mistakes.”  Sometimes I can see the potential in others way more than I can see it in myself.  I have given myself far too much cruel kindness.  That is clearly something I would never do to another person.  Maybe I thought I was helping myself by giving cruel kindness.  By reminding myself of unpleasant situations I have been through, this would somehow help me to never to make those mistakes again.  By constantly replaying situations and poor choices, I would somehow learn to never do it again.  I found that this is unacceptable behavior and an oxymoron that simply makes no sense.  So what are the steps I plan on doing to change this behavior?

Step 1- Acknowledge that I am not compassion with myself.  Seems easy enough right?  But until one can admit to themselves that they have a problem, the situation can’t be fixed.

Step 2- Accept that mistakes have been made.  I’m human and humans make mistakes.  Some of the mistakes I made were necessary in order for me to learn and grow.  They taught me to make better choices and to listen to my gut.  Without making certain mistakes, I wouldn’t have become the person I am today.  And right now, I think I’m pretty awesome.  🙂

Step 3- Change the thought.  When NENE just won’t seem to shut her negative pie hole, I have to quickly remind myself of how awesome I am.  I begin to think of all the accomplishments that I have made over the years.  I will speak positive affirmations that prompt my brain to go down a more optimistic path.

Step 4- Forgive myself. This one will truly be the hardest to do of all the steps. I’ll have to learn that I’m still a good, smart person, who has flaws. No more or less than anyone else, just flaws. My past choices or decisions do not dictate how much I have grown. They also don’t determine my future. I will give myself a pep talk when I think of a mistake and move on. I will not dwell on choices and things in the past that can’t be changed.

As long as I’m walking the Earth, I will make mistakes.  It’s an important fact of life that I must remember.  I will acknowledge when I have done so, learn from said mistake, forgive myself and move on.  Because I’m tired of beating myself up over old, spilled milk.

How Are You Running Your Race?

(Disclaimer- I proofread this thing a dozen times and used an online site to help. If you see any mistakes, oh well, I’m only human. Thanks for reading!)
A little over a month ago I was listening to one of my favorite podcast called, “The Read” hosted by Kid Fury and Crissle.  The episode is called, “Cheerleading” and in it, Crissle talks about her history of depression and negative self-talk.  She said something that her therapist told her that made her take a serious look at how she speaks to herself.  And after hearing it, it also made me take a look at how I speak to myself?  Her therapist said to her, “Picture life like a race. And one person is beaten along the path.  Like someone is whipping at their back. Chastising them and telling them all the ways that they suck.  And they’re moving forward trying to be motivated by the negativity.  And the other person has cheerleaders in the distance who are rooting for them and encouraging them to keep going.  And when they fall saying, ‘That’s fine.  You know we all stumble sometimes.  Just get back up, dust your knees off and keep going at it.’  And you can choose how you’re going to talk to yourself through life.  Are you going to beat yourself through it?  Or are you going to cheerlead yourself through it?”  Crissle said as soon as her therapist told her that, she began to change the way that she spoke to herself.

I know for an absolute fact that most times I am not kind to myself.  My words can be harsh, rude, mean and downright disrespectful.  Sometimes so that the things that I say to myself I wouldn’t dare allow anyone to say to me.  So why is it ok that I say those things to myself?  Ideally, I know that it’s not.  But that doesn’t stop me from constantly doing it.  At one point the negative self-talk was loud and often, it became the only self-language I knew.  I have come a long way from the constant beating myself up.  But I still have a tendency of whipping my own back instead of rooting myself on in this race called life.  My problem is I’m often living the past or worried about the future.  Neither of which is mentally healthy for me to do.  One reason is that I can’t seem to forgive or forget my past mistakes.  The second reason is that I’m not presently where I want to be in life, and I worry I’ll never get there.

My negative self-talk appears to come from my own vision of lack and comparison.  Since I don’t have the things that I want, all I see is lack.  Here’s how it usually goes:  “I’m not currently working as a full-time writer because I lack the skills needed in order to achieve that.  I’m single because I lack the beauty it takes to draw someone’s interests.  I’ll never move ahead in life because I made that awful decision five years ago.”  You get the idea.  The comparison comes from looking at what everyone else is doing instead of looking directly at my own path.  I’m watching how everyone else is performing in their race of life and that slows me down.  I get slowed down because I think I should be where they are in life.  Often times I forget the fact that everyone runs at their own pace. So where does the negative self-talk, my vision of lack and compassion get me?  The short answer is:  NOWHERE.  And who the hell wants to stay there?

After hearing Crissle give the race example that her therapist gave her, it really made me want to change my internal dialogue.  I want to cheer myself on the way I would cheer for others.  I’m a fantastic cheerleader for everyone else.  Why shouldn’t I do the same for myself?  Learning to not beat myself up will surely be an everyday struggle.  This isn’t something that will suddenly stop overnight.  I will probably have to work hard each and every day to see the good in myself.  I can do this by learning to ignore those things I don’t see as being “good enough.”  For every discouraging thought that comes across my mind, I will quickly follow it up with something I love about myself.  I will keep my eyes on my own journey and pace, and not worry so much about what others are doing.  And not comparing my speed to theirs.  Knowing that comparison only serves to injure me in my own race.  Daily, I will think of a least three things I like about myself or that I’m good at.  This will serve as the encouragement that I need to hit the finish line. I want to run a strong race, with all the strength that I can muster.  I must learn to not be my biggest adversary.  And become my biggest supporter, encourager and overall best friend.  Because after all I am the one running this race, and this race I fully intend to win.

Late To The Game or Early To A Breakthrough?

I always thought that by the time I made it to the age I currently am, I would be a lot further along in my life’s journey than I am.  I also thought that I would have all my shit together by now as well.  Fun fact:  I have been proven wrong on both points.  The fact that neither of those things is true, bruises my ego a little on a daily basis.  So much so that I’m actually a little embarrassed to even admit it.  But I never hold back the truth on this blog, so there it is for the world to read.  I thought that I would be further along because I thought I knew what I wanted at a young age.  At 18, I wanted to move to New York City, go to the Fashion Institute of Technology, graduate and become a world-famous designer.  By the time I turned 25, the only thing that I still wanted was still to move to New York City.  Now I really don’t want any of the things I did at 18 or 25.  I decided to go back to college in 2010 to study Journalism under the guise that I would become a Fashion Journalist.  Since I know longer wanted to make clothes, I wanted to write about other making them.  A little more than halfway through my studies, I took a creative writing class as a filler for a semester.  After two months in the class, I had made a big career change.  I no longer wanted to be a Fashion Journalist, I wanted to be a writer.  But not just a writer, oh no that’s too small of a dream for me.  I wanted to be a New York Times Bestselling author.  Hell, why not?  The thing that gets me (aka pisses me off a bit) is why couldn’t I have figured all of this out at 18, 25 or hell even 30 years old?!  And now instead of NYC calling my heart, California seems to be calling my name more and more. But I digress.

Eventually, I had to step back, do some serious inventory and think about it.  Why exactly aren’t I where I thought I would be?  And why aren’t I where I think I should be?  For me, the answer wasn’t crystal clear at first.  After a few years of reading different self-help books and listening to positive podcast, it finally hit me.  My mindset wasn’t right for the goals and dreams I had for myself.  How can I expect to be somewhere more positive than I am if my mindset isn’t on the same page?  Impossible.  It took years of growing pains, long conversations with people, late nights of reading, prayer, and meditation to finally get it.  I also think part of the reason why I’m not where I thought (or would like) to be is that what I want has changed.  And more importantly than that, I have changed. My self-confidence is stronger than it has ever been at any point in my life.  And I work daily to strengthen it more than the day before.  My career goals are truer to who I am now.  My focus, drive, and desire for what I want are on warp speed.  Now if I could only stop wasting time and energy beating myself up about the slow start. (Insert emoji with the lady with the hand over her face here)

Now I’ll be candid here, my mindset isn’t always 100% completely aligned with my goals. When I say this I mean that there are days when the New York Times Bestsellers List seems like nothing more than a pipe dream.  And then there are days when I think something I’ve written is worthy of a Pulitzer Prize.  Ok, that’s a bit of a stretch, but you see where I’m going with this.  If my mindset isn’t completely aligned with my goals, then my goals won’t come to flourishing.  Since what I want hasn’t appeared in my life, then I would beat myself up about not achieving that goal.  Never.  Ending.  Cycle.  Good news: I finally figured this out.  Bad news (sort of):  Trying to figure out how change this destructive, non-productive pattern of behavior.  I have learned that when I try to do too much at one time, I freak out and then fail miserably.  So I take baby steps, my friend.  Baby steps.  It started by acknowledging that there was a change that needed to happen within me first.  That’s usually the hardest thing to do.  Honestly, it sucked that my change had to take so long to manifest, but it was necessary in order to grow strong enough to go after my goals.  Once I knew that I had to change, then I figured out the how.

Instead of the constant complaining to anyone who would listen to my whining, I started having actual conversations.  Meaning I would talk about what I wasn’t happy about, but I would actually listen to the feedback I was given in return.  Not only would I listen, I would give a significant amount of time to what the person said.  And then from there, I would apply the advice to help improve myself and my life.  As I stated earlier, I started reading books about mindset and positive thinking. I started with a book called, “The Secret.”  I know some people have issues with this book, but it helped me tremendously.  It helped me learn to see the glass as half full instead of half empty like how I was raised to see it.  It always taught me to be more grateful for all the things I have in my life.  With gratitude comes a better attitude. So corny, but so true.  I listened (and still do) to positive, motivating podcast as well.  Some of my favorites are The Marie Forleo Podcast, The Lavendaire Lifestyle, and The GaryVee Audio Experience.  Really love Gary Vee because it keeps it real, tells the truth and doesn’t sugar coat shit.  And someone like me appreciates that.  I surround myself with as many positive people as I can.  And the funny thing is, I have met some great amazing people online who have helped me to be more positive as well.  I try to avoid as many negative people as possible.  But sometimes that’s hard when it’s a family member, a friend or maybe even a co-worker.  I just keep my conversations with them to a minimum.  It’s the only way I can survive.  And I think the most important that I’m learning to do (and working on daily) is forgiving myself.  Forgiving myself for past mistakes, ideas, attitudes, actions, and non-actions.  I have this terrible tendency of living in the past and replaying mistakes in my mind.  I am learning to work through that, and let it go.  Nothing I can do about it now, it’s over.  The only thing I can do is learn and grow from it.  So even though I may not be exactly where I thought I would be.  Or even have my shit together, I’m still here fighting the good fight.  I’m not giving up on my dreams or myself.  Clearly, I’m still here for a reason.  And I’ll do everything I can to make sure that that reason is fulfilled.