If you’ve been an Anxious Author for a long time, especially if your anxiety stems back to your childhood, self-negativity is a pretty ingrained habit. Negative thoughts, put downs and harmful self-depreciation can be instinctive: our go-to responses to any situation, good or bad. This is often especially true whenever we achieve something significant in our lives – or author careers!
Unfortunately, whacking these thoughts out of the park isn’t the miraculous cure to anxiety but it’s a good start to aiding our productivity. It’s so much easier to work when we’re not feeling like we don’t have what it takes to achieve our goals.
If the first thing that pops into our heads when something significant happens in our lives is a negative thought, our best course of action is to interrupt it. With what? Positivity? That stuff doesn’t come quietly and even when we get it, it’s too easy to dismiss. Nope, not positivity but cold, hard facts that are neutral but powerful.
Here are the three thoughts we need to interrupt self-negativity:
“That doesn’t matter right now/anymore.”
This one has stopped me falling into a lot of holes in the past. At the most inappropriate times and/or when we have just achieved something that makes us feel good about ourselves, bad thoughts or memories have a tendency to surface. That’s one of the things that makes us Anxious Authors after all!
It can be anything. A memory of a perceived embarrassing moment or an angry encounter with someone will pop out of nowhere and taint whatever goodness we dare feel. This is the perfect time to remind ourselves that now is not the time. We deserve to have pockets of happiness free from anxiety and if that means telling it off from time to time, let’s do it.
Remind ourselves (and our anxiety) that this is a moment to be happy/productive/at peace and we will not be dwelling on anything that causes us worry. However bad a memory it is, it doesn’t matter right now and the more we will ourselves that, the less it will matter later on.
“Remember, you got this far.”
Anxious Authors have this irritating tendency to be humble. Too humble. So humble that we won’t take credit for anything or wave off any praise as unearned. When we make the effort to recognise our efforts, it can feel self-indulgent, almost selfish. But remembering how much we’ve done to get to where we are is an important exercise.
Facing tough stretches of a journey, whether it’s an author journey or another long, winding path, is daunting. Thoughts of how we can possibly reach the end without monumental failures take centre stage.
But we didn’t just get to where we are by blindly pottering around and ending up here. Our time, effort and skill has gone into getting us to where we are now and they will take us further still. Reminding ourselves of all we’ve accomplished once in a while can give us the strength we need to take us over the next hurdle. Remember, there’s no shame in congratulating ourselves every once in a while!
“A step backwards is still part of the journey.”
When we start out doing anything ambitious, we naturally have this idea that there will be us and downs but we will always keep going forward. It doesn’t cross our minds for a moment that we might take a step back. The joys of cautious optimism.
While it’s not inevitable, there’s a chance that as we’re trundling along we might take two steps forwards and three steps back. Our first instinct as Anxious Authors is to blame ourselves, our incompetence and our shameful lack of skills. The truth is, going backwards is an indication that maybe there’s something else we need to learn before we continue.
In short, it’s just an unexpected part of our journey. Nothing to be ashamed of (unless we’ve done something truly monstrous like steal someone’s manuscript!) and a means of growth. It’s uncomfortable, disheartening and something we wish we could skip all together but it’s just one of those hurdles we will soon overcome and look back on with a little pride.
Thanks for reading!