Alright, real talk: It’s 4:27am and there should be laws against writing at these hours.
Is this what drunk driving feels like? Because I’m pretty sure my eyes are doing cartwheels and my brain is like, “What the ****?” and all the while my stomach is all, LISTEN LADY IF WE’RE DOING THIS I’M GONNA NEED SOME ASSISTANCE DOWN HERE.
I mean, I normally wouldn’t mind dragging a bag of Doritos into bed with me at this hour (it’s all about taking one for the team, am I right?) but THE LOS is asleep next to me and he’s not actually snoring for once, so if I move and then he snores I’m pretty sure my cover will be blown and the gig will be up. And then I’ll be forced to tell the Russians all my secrets.
So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about hating yourself, lately. Which is a weird thing to be thinking about at any hour, let alone 4:27am (shoot it’s 4:34am now—does this mean I’m older and wiser?) but while I was developing the Special Ops Confidence Training for my forthcoming business development & refinery program, aptly titled, Unf*ckwithable Boss (TEAM HUDDLE: EMAILING TO TELL MORE SOON!), I had to carefully consider why any of us feel a lack of confidence, in the first place—particularly when it comes to business and selling yourself.
And there are plenty of reasons for the cold sweats, you know. The whole “let’s hop on a call to discuss” with prospective clients, for one (PEOPLE ARE TERRIFIED OF THIS), or pitching your idea, or hopping online and doing video or podcasting, or the speaking in front of groups of people, or even answering the question that gets everybody’s panties in a knot:
“So, what do you do?”
…Aaaaaaaaand suddenly, you’re all: OMG. WHAT WAS THAT THING CALLED? AN ELEVATOR RIDE? WHAT AM I SUPPOSE TO SAY, AGAIN?! I’M SUCH AN ASS! SAY SOMETHING, SAYYYYYY SOMETHING. NO, REALLY. SPEEEEEEAKKKKKKKKKKKKKK. NOW!
…And then “uhhhhhhh” comes out of your mouth.
So some of it is just a function of not being prepared—we knew that—but some of it also has a lot to do with a deeper, darker secret that likes to haunt everybody from time to time:
Not actually believing you’re worth hearing.
Believing, in essence, that you are bad, and whatever comes out of your mouth is bad, and you’re sure to screw it up, so why bother? And even if you do try, you'll get yourself all worked up, completely overthink it, torture yourself with all the worst case scenarios, and then when it comes time to say something, anything, the slightest bit of negative feedback from the other party—a sigh, a glance at a watch, a hard question—will brand your psyche forever.
“See?” you’ll think. “I suck at this.”
And then the cycle beings. You secretly hate yourself for all the times you’ve screwed up in the past, so you assume you won’t do well now. And then when you don’t do well now, you hate yourself even more. It’s like the very moment itself existed to prove that what you believe is true: You are bad at this, and you, yourself, are bad. It’s a maddening self-fulfilling prophecy. And one of the most heartbreaking kind there is, particularly when it comes to creating things and putting them out in the world. There’s just so much GOOD that’s left on the table—creativity and happiness and opportunity and money and hope and love—because of self-loathing, and feeling completely fucking inadequate.
This is something I wanted to shine a light on today, because if you’re reading this, and you’ve ever felt nervous about letting yourself be seen, or terrified of what will or won’t come out of your mouth, or painstakingly selecting your words when you’re talking to people, or constantly wondering what they’re thinking about you, and beating yourself up anytime you say something that doesn’t come off in just the right way, and overthinking and overanalyzing and overeverythinging about everything, and being constantly blinded by fear and shame and dread and self-criticism—
—you need to know, and really, really understand, that your perception of yourself is smoke and mirrors—and it's not reality.
How is it possible that a narcissistic serial killer can feel great about themselves, while some of the best, most loving and generous and true people think that they’re absolute shit?
Your thoughts are a fun house. Whatever you think about yourself, you’ll see staring back at you. In fact, neuropsychologist Rick Hanson even compares the human mind to a wet wash cloth, in that it takes the shape of whatever it rests on. If you rest your mind on top of self-hatred, and self-criticism, and anxiety and disgust and fear, your mind will actually take a negative shape. And I’m guessing it’s not going to be the middle finger.
So, what can you do?
Seek out the conditions when you hate yourself a little bit less.
Under what conditions do you love yourself a little bit more? Is it when you’re doing art? Or writing? Or sitting on the grass in your backyard? Is it when you’re traveling, or when you’re running, or when you’re doing volunteering? Is it when you’ve got candles lit, and a clean desk, and healthy food on the table? Is it when you’re dressed impeccably, or in yoga pants, or with your hair blonde or red or blue or green?
Create as many optimal conditions as you can for feeling good.
Surround yourself with the things that make you feel good, and strong, and peaceful, and free. It will rub off on everything you do. Because at any given moment, your brain is either working for you, or working against you. And you don’t need any double agents.
You CAN do this. And you are brilliant. And your experience on earth here is inherently important, because you’re a human on this planet, and you’ve experienced things that no other human has. And we need to know what your experience has been, in order to understand our own. Nothing you could ever say would be useless or stupid or dumb or trivial, because it is, by its very nature, important information, because no one else has experienced it in the same way. How marvelous, that you can contribute to our collective body of knowledge in this manner. And what a tragedy it is, when you withhold it from the world, because you had convinced yourself that it didn’t matter. And that you don’t matter. And that you are not worth being heard.
And any thought that says different?
Deserves to be fired—
—not given a raise.