Do you blame yourself for your limitations? You’re not alone.
Here’s an example:
I struggle to write when I’m at home. I can always find something else more interesting, more fun, more urgent to do instead of sitting down at my computer to write. And when I do manage to get my butt in a chair and my laptop open, I so often end up scrolling Facebook and watching cat videos, and then poof, an hour has elapsed and I’ve written exactly zero words.
For years I lambasted myself for this. If I were a real writer, I told myself, I’d wake at dawn and bang out 500 words before the sun had fully risen in the sky. If I were a real writer, I’d never get distracted by social media. If I were a real writer, I’d be able to write every day without resistance or procrastination.
Then I discovered something: I write so well at coffee shops. Something about the ambient noise, the lack of sock drawers needing organizing, and the threat of someone seeing my laptop screen as I watch one more video of cats riding on Roombas all combine to make me an effective, efficient writer inside a coffee shop.
Now I still sometimes feel that persistent inner judgement coming up. If I were a real writer, the little judge says, I wouldn’t need to go to the coffee shop to write. If I were a real writer, I wouldn’t have to rely on the shame of someone witnessing my actual internet habits to motivate me to write.
But here’s the truth:
I am a real writer. I write 500 words (and often much more) every week for these blog posts. I write poems and essays and scripts for plays. I write grant applications for my own work and for other artists. If I can let go of my illusion of what makes a “real writer,” I can see that I am a writer because I write.
I am a writer (a real writer) because I write.
But if I got stuck feeling terrible about the accommodations I have to make for myself to get myself to write, I wouldn’t write. If I didn’t let myself go to the coffee shop in order to write, I’d write a whole lot less than I do now.
We have to learn to work with our limitations instead of against them.
We have to learn to meet ourselves with kindness and compassion.
We must learn to hold our weirdness and quirks and strange habits with tenderness.
We must struggle with softness.
I am so grateful that I figured out that I can only write when I’m in a coffee shop. I’m not mad at that anymore. Because now I actually write every week.
So if you struggle with being soft with yourself, try this personalized mad lib affirmation:
I’m a _______________ (way that you identify) that struggles to ____________ (do the thing you identify as) unless I ________________ (your weird habit or limitation.) I’m not mad at ________________( your weird habit) anymore. I’m thankful for ______________ (your weird habit) because it helps me to _________________ (do the thing).
I’m a writer that struggles to write unless I go to the coffee shop so no one can see me shop for shoes on Amazon for an hour. I’m not mad at coffee shops anymore. I’m thankful for going to coffee shops because it helps me to write.
What do you watch on Youtube when no one's looking? I’d love to hear about your weird habits. Leave your mad lib in the comments below if you’re open to sharing!
Want to learn to overcome these obstacles?
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