Monday, March 12, 2012

Nourishing Our Self Esteem

Writer's Survival Guide 5: Nourishing Our Self Esteem

As any writer knows, it's hard to keep a healthy ego. We might love our first draft but berate ourselves for mediocrity when we're in the middle of revisions. We might pat ourselves on the back for querying an agent, only to wonder why we even bother when we get a rejection two days later.

We see our peers online making happy announcements and feel inadequate at our lack of progression. We get that coveted contract only to dissolve into a scared mess at the massive revisions requested. Or we've published four books and no publisher wants our next ones.

Many writers find it very hard to maintain a healthy level of confidence.

Happiness!
Photo by zipckr

Every success threatens to push us toward an egotistical frame of mind, while every setback threatens the opposite.

How do we find a happy medium? Regardless of where we are on our writing path?

I don't know. I'm not always good at it.

One thing I do is allow myself to sit with whatever emotion I'm experiencing. If a long-awaited hope seems poised to come true and doesn't, I don't push back the tears. I get quiet within myself and feel the pain. Or if something wonderful happens, I dance around the house and dream as big as I can.

Maybe equalizing our emotional reactions sounds like a good idea, but it's never worked for me. Besides, we're writers. How can we write about a pain so deep it feels as if our blood is draining from our body and our muscles are withering within us if we never allow ourselves to experience the negative side of life? How can we describe the sensation of floating, spinning, dizzy with joy if we tell ourselves not to jinx things or that it could all go away?

Another thing I do is utilize positive self-talk. I don't prepare myself for the worst. I expect the best, knowing I will survive if the best doesn't happen. If my thoughts lean toward self-criticism, I shut them up. We need to talk to ourselves as we would a loved one. Because we ARE a loved one. We need to love ourselves.

The most important thing I do is pray. Maybe I'm not capable of making every one of my dreams come true, but God is. He can create paths for us where there is no path. We can rely on Him to put his arm around our shoulder and get us through the rough spots.

How do you nourish your self-esteem?

Enjoy your Monday!

16 comments:

  1. I once suffered a crushing blow after receiving feedback. I allowed myself to experience the pain of it, even pushed the feeling to be a hundred times worst, then analyzed how it felt so that I could use it in my writing at some point. That's when I realized I really am a writer. :)

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  2. I think we just have to be ridiculously stubborn. :) We persevere on when there's really no concrete reason to do it because we love what we do. It's really tough, though.

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  3. Such good thoughts Jill. We've all been experiencing some of that pain lately:) I usually try to tell myself that it could be something worse, but some days that is the worse for me. You are right though, when we experience loss and hurt, it makes it easier to write about too.

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  4. Chocolate helps the low points.

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  5. I think if we remember who we are in God, then our self-worth comes from Him and not from our successes and failures. But it's really hard to remember that sometimes! Like you, I try to remember that he's the one directing my path here. I can't really succeed without him anyway.

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  6. When I'm feeling down, I pray, and then I turn to my family and friends. The Lord uses them to lift me up. I don't know how I'd survive without their encouragement and support.

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  7. I like how you talk to yourself. I do that. Lately, I have been saying things like, "no, I'm not going to say that, think that." It has been helping me a lot to just pause and redirect myself to the positive.

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  8. Stina: So true! I've done the same. It does help to know we can use all of the bad for good!

    Elizabeth: Right! I agree with you. Without a strong stubborn streak, I would have given up long ago!

    Terri: Yeah, sometimes it IS the worst. Not every cloud has a silver lining! Ha!

    CJ: Chocolate helps at low points, medium points, high points--chocolate is always appropriate!

    Lindsay: Those are wise words.

    Keli: My friends make a huge difference in my life, too! :)

    Nancy: I didn't realize how much negative internal talk happens in this head until last summer. I was rather shocked at how not nice I am to myself! I'm remedying that. :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  9. I run.

    I know that sounds crazy. But it changes my mood so easily.

    And yes, prayer and allowing myself to feel it, and positive I can do it statements always help as well.

    LOVE that pic!
    ~ Wendy

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  10. I do the same - and allow myself to experience the feelings in the moment. I wasn't always this way. If I don't let the feelings flow, I have a meltdown at some point later on, and everything comes spilling out.

    Loved this post.

    Also, I tagged you on my blog today. No pressure.

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  11. having a 3 year old in the house who thinks I'm the bees-knees doesn't hurt, Jill!! But, like you, I allow myself to feel everything - the extreme happiness, pain...and I even allow those pie-in-the-sky hopeful days when something good happens. And then I get back to work...because working helps me stay focused on what it is I want. And that keeps me moving through the pain, especially.

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  12. Doesn't sound crazy at all, Wendy. Exercise is such a good endorphin RX!

    Great post, Jill. Very thoughtful, and thought provoking. And I loved all the comments!

    Thanks!!

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  13. Like you, prayer! :)

    Another thing that's so helpful for me when I'm struggling is to talk to people who I know will build me up. My parents constantly speak truth into my life. Other writers and friends, too...

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  14. Hi Jill -

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Too often, I try to work things out in my own strength. There are doors only God can open, and I must trust Him.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  15. Jill:
    Coming from a difficult background, I have had to learn to rely on God and prayer to help me move forward. A gentleman in my Sunday school class is a quadriplegic. He is a prayer warrior. Sometimes, after class we talk about things, his son, my son, my husband, his neighbor, his mother, his ex-wife. They we take turns praying for each other and those in our lives.

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  16. Wendy: Running is a great stress buster. I need to do that. Like right now. :)

    Loree: Same here. Disappointment will come out at some point, and it doesn't always find an appropriate outlet!

    Kristi: Kids are wonderful! They just love us. :) And I'm with you on work. I like to keep busy. It takes my mind off things.

    Patti: Thanks so much. :)

    Melissa: Definitely! My friends have scraped me off the ground more times than I can count! What would we do without them?

    Susan: Are we related? ha! I do that too. So silly. I have Bibles all over the house. It's not as if I can forget God's in charge!

    QuietSpirit: That helps me too. It's easy to focus on everyone who seems to have more, but reality is there are so many who have less. Great point!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

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