Recently I’ve realised that I’m waaaaaaay too hard on myself.
What I mean by this is that… the voice I hear inside my head is a bit of a dick.
When I wake up in the middle of the night, he says “You’re not going to get back to sleep James. Tomorrow is over before it’s started. Idiot”, when he could be saying “Hey dude, whatever’s on your mind… don’t worry about it… it’s gonna be ok, I promise”.
Or when I’m stuck on a design problem, he whispers “Not again! You always get stuck with this stuff” when he could be more like “Buddy, keep working at it, you’re nearly there”.
Why self-doubt is enemy number one for creative people.
Not to blow my own trumpet or yours — but I think there’s a reason that self-doubt is so common in our line of work.
And it’s this…
The smarter you are, the more likely you are to question yourself.
Or as Bertrand Russell more eloquently put it:
“The ignorant are arrogant and cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt”
Self-doubt is a dangerous, life-threatening habit because if left unchallenged, it becomes self-defeat.
You have to love yourself like your life depends on it.
Turning your inner voice from demon to angel requires prolonged and conscious effort… it’s not something you can fix overnight.
But you can start with tiny habits and build from there…
One simple technique I’m experimenting with at the moment is holding a positive thought when I first wake up in the morning.
So instead of starting the day with “Oh shit, I’m 35 years old, what am I doing with my life?” I’ll say to myself “Today’s another chance to help someone else get unstuck. And I feel good about that”.
Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It is actually the title of a book by Kamal Ravikant. (If your inner voice is a bit of dick like mine, it’s well worth a read).
Kamal was so depressed that his life fell apart, he became chronically ill, and couldn’t get out of bed or leave his house for weeks.
Then he started doing something which changed his life.
He started saying “I love myself.”
Yeah, I know it sounds a bit hippyish, but trust me, it works.
When you love yourself, life loves you back.
Here’s why… or at least, here’s one reason why… I haven’t quite figured out how the whole universe works yet…
What everyone else says or does is out of your hands. (And quite frankly, what someone else thinks of you is none of your business. You can’t control other people’s thoughts, so worrying about them is a waste of time).
But your inner voice is one of the few things in life you can have 100% control over. You don’t have to keep having that same old one-way conversation that drags you down, holds you back, and makes you feel like shit.
You have a choice: to acknowledge the darkness, but then let the light in.
Ask yourself the question that Kamal continually asks himself: “If I love myself truly and deeply, would I let myself experience this?”.
Because guess what… almost all of the time, the answer will be “No”.
Why taking it easy (on yourself) is so important
Learning to challenge your inner voice is a crucial part of pushing yourself into new territories. (Or what I call the art of the uncomfortable).
The quality of your thoughts manifests themselves directly in the quality of your life.
So, take it easy on yourself.
And think good things about yourself whenever given the chance.
Hint: that means at least once a day :)
You deserve it.