Monthly Archives: July 2013

I Choose Not to Feed the Beast

Last week I wrote about my very loud and obnoxious inner critic that shouts, “YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH!” 

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12-28-10 © AnatolyM

I can laugh about it now, but for years it plagued me. I didn’t understand it was a residual from childhood and that as an adult, I can choose to accept and continue, or reject, and stop listening.  I didn’t always hear the words clearly, but I understood the message, internalized it and acted as if it was said, marching forward to achieve, achieve, achieve.

ImageThe devil and angel who took residence on my shoulders were regularly doing a dance in my head without my knowing it. 

No wonder I have always had such trouble meditating, when the goal there is to just be silent in the moment. I have so much going on in my head.

06-19-09 © frentusha

 

I recently saw a presentation by Andrew Warner at the World Domination Summit. He is the founder of Mixergy, a website that shares interviews with entrepreneurs to educate and inspire. 

He shared his current successful business, and also shared a disastrous attempt to start an online invitation business that lost hundreds of thousands of dollars. When he talked about failure, he spoke from experience. 

Andrew talked about paying attention to what triggers your inner critic, and introduced two concepts: 

Counter Mind

True Mind 

Your counter mind is the domain of the inner critic: the place where self-doubt triggers questions about your abilities, competence, likability, intelligence—anything we consider to be important.

The best way to diffuse the counter mind is to question it: Is it true?  Does it matter?Your answers to these questions can diffuse the spinning and power of the counter mind.

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Instead, focus on your true mind: the part about you that’s getting traction and is doing well. What is true, useful or wanted? There’s always something positive to be viewed to drown out the inner critic of your counter mind.

Andrew shared that when his invitation business failed, his head swirled with “counter mind” thoughts—he was a failure, he can’t run a business. But when he stopped to consider if it was true, he knew it wasn’t, as he had a prior successful business. And when he considered the importance of this failure, he realized that he was capable of being successful again. According to Andrew, “No one ever got great by not sucking.”

© Armosa Studios

The presentation was a comfort to me as I previously felt that my inner critic was mine alone, and that most people didn’t deal with this kind of thing. I never talked about it. Honestly, I was too scared that what it was saying might be true and too ashamed to admit it. So instead, I fed the beast of my insecurity and gave it power.

And now that I recognize this for what it is, I am choosing to let it go.

 

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Delightfully Imperfect

When I was a child, I learned that I had to be perfect to be loved by my mother. I had to do everything perfectly, in the way that she defined perfect. 

The big problem with that, is that the bar of perfection was always raised and therefore was never achievable. And of course, “perfect” is subjective. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I’m a very achievement-oriented person.

I don’t remember much of my childhood, but what I do remember is rapid-fire snippets of criticism and rejection. “You could have done better.” “You need to lose weight.” “You are a horrible person.”

“YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!!” was my internalization.

I made it my story. 

I didn’t even have to hear it anymore; I had produced my own voice to it. Echoes of “you’re not good enough”  followed me throughout my life. Everything I did, everyone I met and everywhere I went, it echoed through my head. 

So what did I do? I overachieved professionally. I dove headfirst into a life filled with career in order to avoid the pain of constant failure. In order to define me, I wanted to achieve. If I could somehow do enough or be enough, then my internal critic would stop.

But I followed me everywhere I went, and my very loud pain-in-the-butt inner critic did too. No matter how high I strived, it was never enough, and always left me feeling like a failure.

I internalized the lessons of my childhood. What I didn’t understand at the time, is that it’s nearly impossible to be loved by someone who doesn’t love themselves. But my child brain translated this as an opportunity to do better, and by trying to improve, I might get that love that I wanted.

Not that I achieved perfection, but that was my lofty goal. When I’d receive accolades, I would be outwardly thankful, but inside was calculating what I could have done better and what I would aspire to the next time.

My quest for perfection was exhausting, and kept me from enjoying so many wonderful things in my life. It also kept me from taking a lot of chances and risks, because if I didn’t think I could achieve perfection, or at least do really well, then I wouldn’t do it.

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I saw a presentation by Don Miller and he introduced this graphic along with the suggestion, “What if we are not the identities we project? What happens when we operate out of our false selves?…We are not our failures; we are also not our successes… Sometimes fear is expressed as being careful.”

He then posed three questions: 

  1. Who are we?
  2. What do we want to do?
  3. What’s the first step?

We have the power to write our own story. “What if our life is a memoir about to be written?” 

It’s empowering to consider where I want my life to go from here, and it’s really scary as well. My goal in the coming weeks is to consider the questions posed by Don and to engage techniques discussed by another presenter at the World Domination Summit to write my own story; I’m not seeking perfection, though, but “good enough.” As Don said, “no masterpiece is perfect.”

I aspire to be delightfully imperfect.

Back Through the Rabbit Hole

Following the World Domination Summit, I’m feeling a bit like Alice may have felt after leaving Wonderland now that I’ve landed with a ker-plunk right back into my life. Everything seems the same as it did, but it feels so different.

It’s hard to describe the conference to someone who wasn’t there—to me, it was an Imageintensely personal journey. The real magic of WDS is community: being surrounded by 2,800 like-minded people embracing change. We are all at different points in our journeys towards diverse things: some want to change the world, while others seek to change their lives. The conference is all about being embraced by a supportive community of people all feeling the unrest of maintaining the status quo in our lives. Our tribe.

ImageI had wondered if I might quit my 9-5 gig upon returning; it wouldn’t be my first time. “What’s amazing about a leap of faith is that everyone around you is so sure it’ll work out, and you’re pretty sure it won’t.” Thanks to Tess Vigeland for helping me process my feelings about that experience, and for letting me know that my fear of what is ahead, and the big doozy fear, that the best may be what I left behind me, puts me in extraordinary company. Her bravery, vulnerability and openness comforted me and I will be forever grateful to her for the experience. It was the very first time that I not only admitted my feelings to myself, but also shared them with others. What a powerful gift.

There were some incredible talks; each had beautiful pearls of wisdom to connect with. I’ll be processing my thoughts and feeling about them for some time, and will share those musings in the weeks to come. A lot of blogs posted recaps of the weekend, so I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’ll share what is top of my mind a week later, or as Nancy Duarte might say, what really resonates.

The best way to confront a fear of rejection is head-on with humor

Jia Jiang went on a ‘100 days of rejection’ quest, and asked strangers for all sorts of thing including permission to play soccer in their backyard, for $100, to drive a cop car, and to fly a plane. He quit his job 4 day before his daughter was born, and when he met with a crushing failure 4 month into his 6-month adventure to change his life, his wife told him, “I gave you six months, not four!” What a lesson to us all, to surround ourselves who people who support us.

The path to creation and success springs from the fertile ground of dreams

 Darren Rowse, creator of Problogger, shared the need to take responsibility of our future, as it’s not a place that we are going to, but a place that we are creating. He said to take time every day to dream, and notice the sparks that you create. Then follow those sparks. Share your dreams, as that creates an army of people who will help your dreams come true.

Image “The key to happiness is self-knowledge. We become too focused on how we should be that we forget who we are.” Gretchen Rubin

This amazing life that I can create is custom-made, not defined by the wants and obligations placed on me by others, but by my own unique definition of what a remarkable life can be for me.

 “What we think we want isn’t usually what makes us happy. Don’t expect your achievements to solve your problems.” Donald Miller

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We are not our failures; we are not our successes either. I’ve spent so much of my life aspiring to achieve success to prove that I’m not defined by my past, that I lost track of me in the process. I really connected with this talk and you can bet you’ll be hearing more about it in upcoming weeks.

ImageMy biggest learning is that I don’t want to do it alone. I thought that by being forcefully independent I was being strong, but I now understand that I’m keeping the joy of knowing me from others while leveraging my past hurt to protect myself. I saw vulnerability as weakness, but the presenters were so brave and vulnerable to share stories of their rejection, failure and heartbreak. And that was when I realized: vulnerability is strength. In talking with many of them after the presentations I realized they are just ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

I even decided to practice a little bit and realized that when I shared those deep dark fears that I’ve shared with no one, a big hairy spider didn’t come up to eat me. My fear seemed to float away as it lost its power. Opening myself to another person didn’t kill me, and didn’t even hurt me; it empowered me.

Wow.

So what is the World Domination Summit? I could try to define it, but that’s really missing a lot. What it is to me is the ability to step into the sun to harness its power, its energy, then to fall back to earth in the snuggly warmth of caring, supportive arms. It’s living life, and loving life, in the bonus round.

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Images credit: Armosa Studios

Stepping Out

I just returned from Portland, Oregon yesterday, where I attended the World Domination Summit. I had planned to post about my experiences today, but while I did a good deal of writing, I’m going to hold onto it for a little while. It was an amazing weekend: interesting, insightful and really emotionally intense.

I am thrilled that I stepped out of my comfort zone to try something different.

This trip was a lot of firsts: my first time staying in a hostel (which housed quite a lot of conference-goers, adding to the overall experience) and my first time going to a personal development conference. It was also my first time with complete honesty and openness, making an effort to truly connect with someone at a level that made me twitch with discomfort but offered the reward of deepening a friendship that I truly cherish.

The weekend was all about connection for me, and learning to reach out for comfort when I need it, and not only when I want it. An intensely personal journey shared with many people and new friends.

I watched a person confess their deepest fears on a stage to 3,000, and saw a wheelchair-bound man fly. Truly amazing things can happen. 

“What if we treated a life like a memoir about to be written?” Donald Miller

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