I believe Mondays are the worst day of the week. Bar none. I don't know why, but I typically receive the worst news on Mondays. I don't mind jumping back into the daily work and school routines, but I loathe the problems that seem to crop up on this dreaded day. The worst, by far, is self-doubt. For writers, it's also known as the Inner Critic. My Inner Critic is a bitch. She represents my worst fears and my darkest doubts. And she loves Mondays.
I hate to fail. I really do. I work hard to avoid failure (at least as an end result). But every Monday for a few weeks, I've received a rejection from an agent or two. I don't know why they all come on Mondays--perhaps that's the day these agents clean out their inbox, who knows? Regardless, my Inner Critic immediately begins to chip away at my resolve.
"Quit," she whispers. "Let it go. This dream will never happen. You're not a writer. You can't do it."
Sometimes I believe her, and I consider walking away. Don't get me wrong. I believe in my writing, I really do. I know there's room for improvement, which I constantly strive toward. But I'm a solid writer with publishing experience. I also know that in this business, you need at least one other person who believes in your writing--an agent or editor. Without someone like that in your corner, your chance at success dwindles. My Inner Critic knows this too.
"You're not good enough. You blew it. You have no idea what you're doing. Get a real job," Inner Critic sneers.
Self-doubt is the most insidious, damaging energy we encounter in our day. That internal voice slowly, steadily breaks down our confidence with harsh words and carefully planted seeds of uncertainty. We stumble on our path. We question our capabilities and fortitude. We lose sight of where our dreams can take us. We might even give up.
But your Inner Critic isn't done. Giving up doesn't mean she's won. It means you've opened the door and let her in. Inner Critic will attack your parenting, your weight, your self-worth, your finances, your hobbies--nothing is off limits. I don't know about you, but I have no desire to open that can of worms. So how do you combat your Inner Critic? Good question. Today I haven't been all that successful. Normally I'd recommend smiling. Do what you love. Ignore that voice. Push forward. Take a break. Laugh. Whatever method allows you to push that voice to the back of your mind where it's harder (or impossible) to hear.
I wish I could tell you there's a simple, magic formula for eliminating this voice. Maybe there is. I believe it varies depending our personalities and dreams. Our Inner Critics go after our fears. I don't think there's a right or wrong way to deal with that. I do think the worst thing you can do is give in and give up. Perhaps we need to alter our expectations or open our minds to different possibilities. Just don't let self-doubt win. Don't let that Inner Critic have free rein with your fears.
Tonight I'm going to shut mine up with a hot bath, a cup of tea and a journal. I want to write down my priorities so I have something to refer to every time I feel self-doubt creeping in. I hope you find the perfect method for keeping your Inner Critic under control.