When you’re not beating yourself up, you do better.
You’d never say to a friend, “Geez, you suck at this getting-your-life-together thing. You should probably just give up and accept that you’ll never amount to anything.” So why would you say that to yourself—repeatedly. Don’t you deserve to be treated the same way that you would treat your friends?
We all know that If we treat our friends like that, we won’t have friends for very long. And I get that we can’t get away from ourselves or breakup with ourselves the way that a friend can walk away, so we can never be free of ourselves, but maybe it’s time to be nice to yourself and see what comes of it.
Advice I give often to my kids is that the bully in class is likely bullied at home or somewhere outside of school and she is hurting, so she takes it out on others. That voice in your head? That’s a bully. And that bully is hurting because you’re not being nice to her and neither is anyone else. You’ve spent your life internalizing all those negative comments and voices and it has turned into a voice of its own, berating you for everything you don’t get right or every time you’re not quite as good as the next person doing the same thing as you.
But no one is doing the same thing as you. You are doing whatever it is in your unique way. It’s your voice, your art, your poetry, your ideas even if these things have been done before. You have your own unique take on them. And the world only gets to enjoy your take if you release your work to the world. Otherwise, we’re all left with a little bit less because you listened to your inner bully.
Give that voice a name. Heck, create a whole persona for that voice. Maybe she’s Snickering Sally or Tormenting Tom. Picture your voice as a tiny person in your head, holding you back.
When you work or create or put your heart into something and that tiny person speaks up, tells you your work isn’t good enough, you’re not good enough, tell them that you are good enough and that you love them even though they are mean to you and that you understand how hurt they are and that what you are doing with your creativity is trying to help them heal. And then ask them kindly to go away and give you some time to create in peace. Then pat yourself on the back for standing up for yourself.
You’re worth it. And so is your work.