I have a very wise friend that I meet with on a regular basis. This friend, Melissa, has caught me being very hard on myself and saying aloud things like, I’m not very good at that. Or, I got it wrong again. Or, this means that I’m not good enough.
She’s challenged me to pay attention to those negative thoughts. She even asked me what the ratio was, the good, encouraging things compared to the negative things. I didn’t know what she meant. I was going to say, “Ratio? Is that math? I’m not very good at math!” But then she explained. For every single negative thought I say to myself, I should say nine positive ones back.
Nine? Nine? A nine-to-one ratio, for good to bad? It seems excessive to me, but then I realized that if I were in the constant habit of negative, self-disparaging thoughts, then perhaps nine would go far to heal current wounds and perhaps wounds from the past too.
Today, I paid attention. My first negative thought against myself was formatting and proofreading this book is so hard! I don’t know what I’m doing! I’m never going to get it done right! I keep finding mistakes! What kind of a writer am I going to be if I keep finding mistakes?
Oops. That’s a lot of negativity. If I really said all of that to myself, then I would have to come up with thirty-six self affirmations. Remember, I was in the middle of proofreading and formatting my manuscript, my mind was full as it was. I thought I’d stick to nine and see how it went from there. It was not what Melissa wanted me to do, but it was something. Nine affirmations were 900% more than I had given myself the day before.
This is what I thought:
1. I wrote a book!
2. I conquered a LOT of fears and self doubt to write this book!
3. I wrote this book in ten minute increments around my very busy home life!
4. This book has a great message about being loved and accepted despite the mistakes that we make. (Hello, Irony Police? Yes, I’d like to report an incident . . . )
5. This book is really funny and my readers are going to love it!
6. This book is one more step in my life long pursuit of becoming a successful writer.
7. I’m a better writer now than I was when I started writing this book back in 2006.
8. I have learned so very much about writing and publishing since I started this project. I had to teach myself. I’ve worked very, very hard. I have a lot to be proud of.
9. 2013 was the best year I ever had as a writer! In twelve months I self-published two books, I got a non-fiction contract and I signed with an agent. I’m on my way!
10. Every writer in the world has to fix grammar, spelling and punctuation (especially those who drink and write at the same time) I’m not a bad writer because of these mistakes. I’m a normal one.
11. Everybody finds formatting hard. Isn’t it great my online platforms like Createspace and Kindle Direct Publishing make it so easy.
I have to admit that these nine (which I went to eleven because it felt so good) made all the difference in how I viewed the last stages of this project and how I viewed myself as a writer. The negative thoughts were dragging me into a rip tide of despair. The nine positive things were the steady arms and the lifesaver that made me secure.
I can see that in this very subjective, heartbreaking world of writing and publishing, the attraction of negativity is often too strong to fight against. We writers are often sensitive souls and perhaps we all drink, smoke, wear black and talk to cats because we don’t know how to say positive things to ourselves.
I’d like to challenge all of you dark souls out there to try saying nine positive things to every negative one. I’d like to know if you feel better about yourselves as a result of it. I’d like to know if you see a difference in how you handle your responsibilities, face formatting issues and plow through the next chapter.
I’m sold on the nine things idea. Now I’m planning on making it a habit in every area of my life.