Getting Words to Flow – 3 Steps for Letting Go of Self-Judgment
I’ve made a commitment to blog at least twice a week to provide useful information to help people who write (that’s pretty much everyone who is in business). Getting concepts and ideas out of your head in a way that lets words easily flow on to the page is something we can all benefit from. One of the stumbling blocks for many of us is self-judgment. So often, our critical or negative thoughts about ourselves (and our ability to write) sabotage our efforts before we even begin. As a result, we set ourselves up for failure. We might have an absolutely brilliant idea for an article, blog post, or short story, but a negative thought about our ability prevents us from moving forward.
Many times it’s a voice from the past—a parent who didn’t think you were as creative or smart as your sibling, or a teacher who gave an essay or book report you wrote a low mark. Over time, these comments and criticisms chip away at our self-esteem, and eventually, we replace the word can with can’t. We begin to believe our thoughts and turn them into stories and a self-fulfilling prophecy about our capabilities.
Sometimes, it’s what is not said that harms us. Because actions speak louder than words, maybe nothing was said out loud about your efforts, but when you didn’t get the attention you so rightly deserved, you got the message that what you have to offer isn’t valued. This childhood programming can affect us throughout our lives, and prevent us from doing the work we are here to do.
We are all creative beings, yet many of us let judgment by others stand in our way. Writers see this most often when they are unable to fill a blank page or are thwarted by writer’s block. But it can happen to anyone regardless of their field. Often, self-judgment is what prevents you from making the money you deserve, living the life you desire, or getting the promotion you have wanted. It can be an obstacle from attracting the love you yearn for or living the life you crave.
The question then is what to do about it? The first step is to notice any time the judgment of others creeps into your consciousness. It might appear as a negative belief or an obvious negative thought (I’m not pretty, handsome, smart, or good enough to…) or it could be an irrational justification (Brent has worked here longer and is therefore better suited for the job than I am) even when you know that thought is not true.
The next step is to take a close look at the thought, trace it back to the source, and reconsider the message. Don’t be surprised to discover that you have been a victim of someone else’s projection or their overly critical nature. The intent is not to blame, but to observe the source. If you’re familiar with the work of Byron Katie, this is when you ask yourself, “Is it true?” Most of the time it is not.
Finally, take time to rewrite your history. Sit quietly and picture what should o have been said, or how the situation could have been handled, and replay the ideal scene in your mind until you feel the appreciation and recognition you rightly deserve.
Jan Fishler is the producer of the Path to Publication DVD series filmed at the Squaw Valley Community of Writers featuring Amy Tan, Janet Fitch, Mark Childress and other well-known authors, agents, and publishers. She is the author of Searching for Jane, Finding Myself (An Adoption Memoir) and Flex Your Writing Muscle – 365 Days of Writing Prompts. She writes articles for VietNow National Magazine and has a bi-monthly column, “Healthy Options” in The Union newspaper.