Tuesday, April 4, 2017
D is for Doubt – Doubt Leading to Giving Up This Crazy Challenge
Doubt as in Oh G-d, can I really do this? What was I thinking? Was I out of my mind in believing that I could do all this in a month, and in a month that doesn’t even have 31 days? Is everyone else thinking I’m completely out of my mind in believing that I could do all this in a month, and in a month that doesn’t even have 31 days? Enter anxiety Stage Left.
With Anxiety already onstage, the Defense Mechanisms see their chance at Stardom. They hover on ropes above the stage just waiting for their chance to drop in, take over the production, and play the lead. They will pour glass in your toe shoes, get the neighborhood kid with chicken pox to rub up against you if you haven’t had them or otherwise make you, the star, take a sick day so they can hijack the show in the hopes of first becoming the only ones onstage and then closing the whole production down so that no one else can take back over.
So what do you do? Simple. Employ defenses against the defense mechanisms addressing the anxiety before it builds to a level that their services seem like the way to go. Address the negative emotions and there is no need for defense mechanisms – you will have rendered them impotent hauling the ropes skyward until they no longer even in the theater. The recipe for success? Mix equal part Freudian theory with Cognitive Behavioral techniques and you will have a dish that not only tastes great but one that shores up your immunity to those nasty defense bugs that so badly want to let you quite while feeling good about it. They are much like those vampires that kill you while making you feel ecstatic about dying in their arms.
Step One – Understand What Is Going On
If you’ve read this far you’ve got this step covered
Step Two – Uncover the Thoughts Behind the Feelings
Feelings don’t come from nowhere, descending upon you like angels and demons to give you bliss or wreck your day. They usually result from the thoughts we have, the monologue that runs through our minds from the time we are young and which, over time, becomes something we are not even aware of.
What are you telling yourself that is contributing to your anxiety? That the whole idea is ridiculous and it’s better to quite early and save yourself the effort of quitting late in the game? That you’re only on day three and have practically the entire month left which is just impossible to fill with ideas? That it’s always easy in the beginning so what if you have successfully completed the first few days, that doesn’t really count considering all the days left you have to fail? That you’re not creative enough to come up with ideas that will carry you through the whole month? That you might be committed enough to make it through much of the month but you will never get past those days with more difficult letters because let’s face it what can you possible write about that starts with a “Q” or an “X”? That everyone else participating in the challenge is a better, more talented, more accomplished writer than you? That your writing isn’t really important in the greater scheme of things? That you’ll never be a “real” writer so when all is said and done you’ll look back at all the time you wasted that you could have used to make a difference somewhere? That the need to address all this stuff is just more reason not to do the project you originally committed to since there won’t be enough time to actually complete your writing? That you’re not a real writer anyway since you haven’t had anything published or have only had short stories published not a novel, or just write poetry which isn’t the same as real writing or write screenplays or stage plays which have never been produced?
Writer are chronic self-doubters so if any of the above or other similar thoughts sound familiar then you’re in good company. And hey, if you are doing any writing at all and have those kinds of thoughts, since they are characteristic of writers and you write, well, good news – Looks like you’re a writer. So jump to Step 4 and congratulate yourself for successfully challenging and replacing one negative thought putting you that much closer to defeating your negative emotions and the smiling defense mechanisms that approach like traveling salesmen with a vacuum brush or bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. Uncover what you are telling yourself about your writing, skills and abilities, your personality characteristics or any other negative thoughts that may be interfering with your ability to fulfil the commitment you made to keep going no matter what.
Step 3 – Use Behaviors That Will Immediate Negate Some of Your Hard to Challenge Thought
Pick one or more thoughts that you can use a behavior to cope with and render it harmless. For example if you are convincing yourself when you hit Q or X you will never come up with a topic to write on, open up a dictionary program now and go through the words under each letter jotting down those that could be used as ideas. You’ll be surprised at the possibilities. Now to cover the “you’re not creative enough” thought, do the same exercise for the next several letters so you have a safety net for the immediate days ahead. Each day add another couple of days to your list and by week four, the hardest week, you’ll have tons of topic ideas to select from. Reinforce yourself for neutralizing a few more of those negative self-statements.
Step 4 – Challenge Negative Self-Statements
Instead of just accepting those negative things you are telling yourself, take them on by challenging them. Is it rational to believe that everything you’ve done to this point doesn’t and it’s only whatever you haven’t done that matter? Why, given the countless people who participate in this challenge, would it be ridiculous for you do so? What evidence is there that every single other person participating in the challenge is better than you?
Step 5 – Replace Negative Self-Statements
Now that you’ve got those negative self-statements on the run, replace them with more realistic adaptive statements. What I’ve completed and accomplished matters the most and proves that I can do this. There are tons of people participating in this challenge so it is not something ridiculous that I just came up with. It’s almost certain that I am not the weakest writer participating in this challenge and even if I am that doesn’t mean I can’t finish it and I’ll gain valuable skills by doing so.
Get your thoughts in line by evaluating their reality, neutralizing those you can with behavioral strategies for immediate relief and replacing those that are still standing in your way more adaptive thoughts. This will help rid you of negative emotions that may have been blocking your success. Use this process and you’ll be on your way to victory. As an added bonus Victory can be used for V.