When I Silence the Bully in My Brain

Posted on Mar 14, 2013 in Business, Failure | 5 comments

I just wrote this in response to a comment on Facebook:

I often bully myself into drawing a very bold line between personal and professional obligations ā€“ prioritizing completing the professional ones before I attend to the personal ones. This NEVER works, but I do it anyway. But then I’ll get to a breaking point, and in the middle of crazy stressful deadlines, I’ll go shopping and take myself out to lunch. And then I get all my work done. You’d think I’d learn…

Most of the time, I don’t have much trouble striking a balance between my professional and personal obligations. Most of the time.

Most of the time, I’m fair to myself. Most of the time, the bold lines I draw help me focus on whatever I’m doing at that moment. When I relieve the babysitter at 4:30, my work is done for the day (or it’s done at least until later in the evening). I’ve always done my best to keep work out of my weekends. And when I’m working to a deadline, my work time is sacrosanct. I often refuse to answer the phone (even more than usual, anyway). I don’t make as many social plans so I can conserve my energy for the intense work. I allow myself to cancel non-essential plans.

But sometimes? Sometimes I’m an absolute prick to myself.

In the “interest” of my lengthy work to-do list, I put off haircuts, relaxation, social plans, time to daydream and doodle and otherwise keep my creativity fueled. I’m an utter asshole to myself about it, too. The voice in my head is unrelenting in its harshness as it tells me how uncommitted I must be to want or need those other things, about how weak I am to find it difficult to balance all the factors of my life when one variable is taking up too much room and weight.

But you know? When I punch that fucking bully in the face, I end up feeling far more capable. Every. Time. Every time.

What about you?

  • http://twitter.com/NikkiReimer Nikki Reimer

    I struggle with this all the time. Sometimes I think my entire reason for being in this life is to figure out my shit with my inner bully.

  • http://www.kimwerker.com/ Kim Werker

    I feel that way too! To be honest, I feel that way right now. Let’s remind each other we’re more than that, eh? We’re more than that!

  • http://realnani.blogspot.com/ Nancy Cavillones

    When I was a teacher, we used to call this a brain break. Sometimes, you just need a change of pace! You can’t be “on” all the time.

  • emilysmith2000

    I can *so* relate to this. I went through this in a big way a months ago and had a serious conversation with myself. I knew I had identified that I was beating myself up over *everything*, I started beating myself up even more about beating myself up. And the cycle continued.

    The only way that I saw possible to get out of that cycle, was to create a possibility from it. So, I vowed that any time I felt myself doing that, I would tell somebody. What I found from that process was astounding. I was able to connect with so many people on the subject and realized that I was not alone. In the process of sharing, I stopped beating myself up because I felt really great about the real conversations I was having with people – so was able to channel it into something more constructive – and find that value and strength in myself, because I had seen the strength of others’, in their admissions of “breaking down” with themselves.

    I think it really stems from the whole perfectionist thing I’ve got in my brain. I want to do the things I want to do because I want to create more value and do things well. Unfortunately though, sometimes the realities of *doing* mean messing up here and there, or not being excellent to yourself or others. I think it’s interesting though, because if you’re not making mistakes, it means that your probably not contributing.

    Over the past few years, I’ve resolved that if you are doing *anything*, chances are it’s going to feel messy and chaotic and the idea is that you can channel that chaos into something constructive. But if you can’t accept the chaos, you can’t move on to the constructive phase.

    Ira Glass does a good job I think, at explaining how this whole concept applies to storytelling / creative work:

  • http://www.kimwerker.com/ Kim Werker

    Mmm. Ira Glass. YES.

    And YES YES YES to everything you said here, Emily. One of the reasons I write about this stuff is that I’ve had exactly the same experience as you ā€“ telling people how I feel about things like this creates incredible opportunities for growth and sharing and intimacy and creativity and relationship and community and, well, I’ll stop there. It’s exactly at the times I feel the most alone and isolated that I’ve learned I need to reach out and remind myself that it’s not REALLY that I’m alone ā€“ just that I feel that way.