Tag Archives: inner critic

Cover me I’m going in

27 Feb

Taking a page from last week’s playbook, I’m on my way into work after a successful start to the day. I was up and showered quickly, spending less than 10 minutes watching the news over a cup of coffee (leaving little time to get lost in my head with only my inner critic for company). 

What’s more, I did something different this weekend. I worked for a couple solid hours on both Saturday and Sunday. Not enough to be a burden on my day or interfere with my kids’ activities, but enough to keep up my ‘mental momentum’ so I’m not hitting Monday morning from a standing start. 

How will the rest of the day pan out? Wish me luck and I’ll let you know. 

Cut a great bargain…with myself

11 Feb

Right off the top, let me say that I did not meet the expectations I set for myself last time I wrote, going on three days now. I did my writing in time but didn’t finish the cover letter.

By my own and no uncertain terms I was in my rights to declare the week a a failure. My inner critic was chomping at the bit and tempting old habits – like self criticism and sabotage – circled like vultures.

But I didn’t give in to temptation or my typically harsh judgement. I stopped.

Taking a page from Daniel Kahneman’s excellent bookThinking Fast and SlowThinking Fast and Slow, I stopped. To breathe, to find calm, to think rationally. I caught myself in time with three anchors of reason:

1) Life’s not black and white, all or nothing. Everything in life is painted shades of grey. Yes I missed one goal, an important one but immediately urgent only to me. What’s I tend to forget is that I met the other 80% of my goals and did even more. How can I give myself a failing grade? Would I judge someone else through the same harsh eyes? Bottom line….I give myself a solid B+.

2) This old catastrophizing, self-sabotaging habit of mine is a stubborn bugger. Getting past it, accepting what I did instead of dwelling on what I didn’t, even giving myself a pat on the back…these are precisely the things I need to learn how to do again. They pose the biggest, toughest challenges in my life right now.

3) Through smart choices, a healthy attitude and the right meds, I’ve been on a bit of a run lately. I’m taking all my meds, I’m doing more and I’m keeping myself busy all day long. B2C days (bed to couch) are rare when they used to be daily. It’s too easy for me to forget the progress I’ve made, big picture progress. I need reminding that my worst days now are better than my best days in December.

So there you have it.

Maybe I’m finally starting to learn how to appreciate myself as is…that, or I just bargained myself off the hook for putting off an increasingly urgent task that I’ve been avoiding for ages.

Procrastination or appreciation? Crazy or lazy…thoughts?

Still time to salvage the week?

6 Feb

I can’t say much now; I’m running late to pick up the boy but I wanted to check in quickly, if only so I can fill in one more check box on my to-do list for today. So far the fate of the day is still up in the air as, is my habit in recent weeks, I kept myself busy with minor housekeeping and chores…at the expense of the single job application I’ve been kicking down the road for two weeks now. In the small victories department:

  • Today I actually opened the laptop and Word AND my cover letter for the job.  I got to the application, just too late in the day.
  • Compared to where I was in December, I’m miles ahead in the amount of daily time I spend being productive, and not in the viscous cycle of beating myself up to the point of all-day inaction.

Still, the smallness of these victories screams loudly to me.  How much longer am I going to keep putting this thing off? Am in in denial about my true capabilities? Am I really ready for full time work, or even the task of finding it?  I’m terrified of the alternative.

You’ll know I salvaged the week if:

  • I finish this post in under the 5 minutes I set aside for it.
  • I start my next one by reporting the job application submitted.

The art of self sabotage

30 Jan

It’s 11:28 and I’m still 5 minutes away from my 11:00 dentist appointment (at the time I started writing).

I didn’t have an earlier meeting that went long. I wasn’t rushing to get something done before walking out the door. Traffic and public transit were running on time. It wasn’t fear or procrastination either.

I made myself late through my own acts of self-sabotage.

A special brand of manufactured obstacles, self-sabotage means taking deliberate but often subconscious measures to make an already pressing task unnecessarily more challenging. More than simple procrastination, acts of self-sabotage work directly in conflict with truly important priorities.

Among the crazy, self-sabotaging is a common behavioral pattern, and a frequent topic of conversation at my group therapy. Particularly when we’re in a rut, trying to pull out of one, or in the face of an imposing or unfamiliar situation, we sabotage our best interests through decisions and judgement we know to be self-defeating.  Memorable examples include…

…letting your phone ring through to voicemail because it’s someone you’re just not ready to talk to. Now you’ve got the burden of returning their call, probably anxieties about the call itself, and the shame of avoiding it in the first place.

…putting off a reply email for so long that the people expecting it have moved on.  If you do end up replying, you’ll feel it necessary to explain your absence, further complicating an already daunting task.  If you write it off completely, maybe you’ve burned a bridge in the process.

…having a drink or two before an important meeting to relieve anxieties and boost your self-esteem.  At best you’re oblivious to the fact that you smell like a brewery.  At worst you end offending the very people you were trying to impress.

…drinking or smoking to incapacitate yourself from facing an important phone call, meeting or task.  Escape and relief from short term pain lead to more in the long term; you’re going to have to get to it sometime, only now you’ll have less time and more stress to do it.

…taking on work you know you can’t complete because you don’t want to say no to someone.  At some point however, and the longer it goes unsaid the more difficult it is to say, you’re going to have to own up. You’re going let that person down far more than had you were honest from the get go.

…Waiting for your last pill to order prescription refills. This might involve an awkward (in your eyes) call to your doctor, and almost certainly means you’ll be going 2-3 days without your meds.  No big deal if we’re talking Zoloft.  Clonazepam can be a bitch though.

The pattern is obvious enough.  Each is a form of avoidance.  The cost of avoidance, a heavier workload and accompanying anxieties, was far worse than the work being avoided in the first place.  We worry so much about the inevitable that our actions make it impossible.  And yet we repeat the pattern over and over again.

Why?  What drives our acts of self-sabotage? What are we really avoiding? What are your favorite examples?  These and other exciting details to come.  Stay sane:)

Bad start to the day wakes my inner critic…will I catch him in time?

28 Jan

Well today’s not off to a good start.  It’s just past noon and I’ve spent…

…45 minutes making the boy’s lunch and getting him off to school

…5 minutes tidying up the living room

…2 hours playing Call of Duty

…25 minutes fiddling with my WordPress profile

…15 minutes rolling and smoking a joint

…0 minutes on my top priority, submitting a single job application (my first in months).

Suffice to say, my inner critic is foaming at the mouth. The question is, by calling him out and writing this entry, did I catch him in time to save the day from failure?

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