Disputing My Own Negative Self-Talk

Readers, this is just a quick follow up to Tuesday's post on disputing our negative internal explanations. I have to share my own personal example of negative self-talk with you.

I had been working on the other day's post for forever, and I was really struggling with it. I just couldn't get it right. In fact, I still kind of think it's pretty bad. The flow of the piece isn't quite right and, I don't know, it seems kind of boring.

Which is a tragedy on some level because this concept from Martin Seligman's book Learned Optimism was a truly powerful, life-changing insight for me. I wanted to get the central idea across to readers using an everyday example, but it just wasn't working.

So, here was my negative self-talk as I was working on the post:

Jeez Dan, you really suck at writing. You are so slow. It takes you a zillion edits to even get a decent paragraph written. You are never going to amount to anything as a writer.

Heavy, right? But then I burst out laughing at the irony of it all: I was guilty of negative self-talk as I was writing a piece on disputing negative self-talk! Hilarious.

So, what did I do? I took my own dose of Dr. Seligman's medicine: I "disputed" it.

Stop! You don't suck at writing. You're just struggling with this specific piece. And so what if it takes you lots of edits to get something worded just right? PS: A zillion isn't even a real number. Finally, who says you're not going to amount to anything as a writer? What does that even mean? You had 800,000 pageviews last year at Casual Kitchen, and you've created a body of work here that's approaching 700 articles. I'd say that amounts to something, wouldn't you?

I couldn't really come up with anything to dispute the "you are so slow" statement. But, well, three out of four ain't bad.

Guess what happened next after I conducted this little experiment in disputation (besides realizing that maybe I should, uh, reread Seligman's book)? I went right back to writing and pounded out yet another post. And I had a big smile on my face.

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Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) said...

Based on that post, I reserved the book at the library. Actually, your post couldn't have come at a better time and I appreciated it. Thanks for all of the hard work you put into your site. It IS appreciated!

Daniel said...

Thanks Cagey, I really appreciate the feedback and the positive vibes. And I'm confident you'll get a lot of value out of Learned Optimism. I took--no joke--eleven pages of notes while reading it! It's well, well worth a close careful read.

Let me know if you decide to write anything about the book on your own blog. I'd love to hear your take and your reactions.