Day 16: Countering The Negative Monkey Mind

I’ve been doing a lot of self-examination recently. Wait, I’m always doing self-examination!

Yesterday I wrote about being hard on myself. To look at that theme a little closer, I’ve been noticing a strand of relentless badgering from my head that looks something like this:

You’re so smart, Chris. You’re so talented. Why aren’t you more successful? What’s wrong with you?

My brilliant monkey mind, in its infinite patience and unconditional love… er…NOT so much.

This kind of complaint usually centers around the idea that I’m “not doing enough to become successful with my creativity.”

So my mind will say:

You are such a brilliant songwriter. Why aren’t your songs more successful?

Or:

You’re such a good writer on this blog. Why don’t you publish your writing somewhere where people actually will read it?

These are not bad questions. It’s just that they are super judgmental. When I think them I usually feel like I’m being scolded by a disapproving angry parent. And then I typically make things worse by judging and condemning myself: “It must be because I’m stupid and unworthy!” Or “I must be a coward.. I’m such a loser!”

Yikes.

The good news is I’m interrupting that pattern these days. I’ve started to ask myself,

What if there’s a legitimate reason for this pattern? What if I have a good reason? What is really going on here?

Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

  • As big as my dreams have always been, I grew up with a lot of doubts about the outside world. Could others be trusted? Or, on a deeper level, would others actually accept or love me?
  • Due to this state of confusion or doubt, I sometimes made choices that made things harder than they had had to be. I made promises I regretted, suffered through commitments that weren’t a good match, or even walked away from good situations out of confusion or fear. I came away from these experiences feeling even more overwhelmed and uncertain.
  • These experiences made the topic of “becoming successful” seem mysterious, treacherous and overwhelming. I had “gotten burned” many times, though ultimately I was the one drawing these negative experiences to myself.
  • As a result of all that, there’s a side of me that has become intensely self-protective. “You’ve been through enough,” it says, and then consoles me to take it easy and not stress out. “To hell with the world!” it exhorts. “Just do what makes you feel good.”

<Sigh>

It’s really not that pleasant. Yet I do appreciate the clarity that is coming from looking at this. As I wrote yesterday, I AM WHERE I AM. AND IT’S ALRIGHT.

I like to think that by writing this out and sharing it, I’m interrupting the old patterns. I’m confident that breakthroughs await!

Onward!

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