Tell Yourself You’re Better Than You Think

After my chat with Joanna Penn, you might notice that I used the term “disaster” when I was discussing the complications that occurred whilst getting Episode 45 in the can.

In the end, the episode came out fine – thanks in the main to Joanna herself – so it wasn’t really a disaster. And maybe that’s the point.

Something – well, let’s face it, some things – went wrong in the lead up to and during my chat with Joanna. And I do what, I think, a lot of us tend to do when things go wrong.

I beat myself up about it.

It’s in those moments, when the mistakes all seem to have you as the cause, when you really wonder why you think you ought to get paid to play. Making those errors in front of someone makes it worse. I kicked myself for looking like a rank amateur in front of an experienced podcaster (not to mention fiction writer, public speaker and blogger).

Have you been there? Are you there at the moment? Isn’t it tempting to just chuck the whole thing in? For a few days I didn’t want to go near the file Joanna sent me (the recording of the chat that she’d made and I didn’t) out of embarrassment.

Yet the episode went live on time (well, except for a few hours’ delay on the early access for my mailing list members due to a broken down microwave). So what happened?

I read something recently – it was one of those little graphics that you see on Facebook every now and again, you know the ones; an inspirational quote in fancy writing on a pretty background. It’s easy to dismiss them.

But this one kind of stuck with me. I can’t find it at the moment, but it was basically about expecting others to believe in your awesomeness when you keep forgetting to tell yourself how awesome you are. It was, I’m pretty sure, accompanied by some text about making sure to spend a little time every day telling yourself that you’re doing okay.

Sure, it seems an invitation to disappear up your own. But when you’ve developed the nasty habit of using the slightest instance of bad luck as ammunition – no, ordnance – in The War Against Yourself, well, looking yourself in the mirror and telling yourself that you’re better than you think you are half the time can help.

Thankfully, I’d already been at this habit for a few weeks before my chat with Joanna. That, and remembering to take deep breaths whenever I notice myself getting stressed, panicky or angry (half the battle is simply noticing what’s going on in your own head instead of being swept along by all the self-generated noise).

So, I opened up Joanna’s recording of the show, listened through it and got the episode edited and posted. And thought about what I can do to make sure the next one goes a lot smoother.

I’ve made a good start. I’ve had the idea for several years that a Wiki – the software solution that powers Wikipedia – would be a great way to get the way to do the things you need to do out of your head and into something searchable and interrelatable. I’ve flirted with the idea of setting one up at work a few times.

Thankfully, Marcus’ web hosting setup includes an easy-to-establish MediaWiki platform, which I’ve used to create Rob’s Manual for Life, a home for all the stuff that I need to collect and organise so that I don’t re-invent the wheel each time I record a podcast episode. Or write a web log post. Or start a vegetable bed. Or any other initiative I pick up.

Accept your failure and learn from it. Figure out what you’d do differently if you had another chance and do those things the next time. And make it as easy on yourself to do it right again next time.

But overall, accept that a bad situation or a bad mistake doesn’t make you bad or broken. It’s okay to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re okay. After all, if it was someone else treating us the way we sometimes treat ourselves, we wouldn’t want to hang out with them.

Ultimately, let go of the expectation that your head’s going to be magically fixed from here on in. Habits are hard to break, especially those of a lifetime. Just keep showing up in front of that mirror, looking your reflection in the eyes and telling it that it’s doing well, that it’s good. Use whatever words feel right coming from your mouth, whether it’s an affirmation you read somewhere or the sort of words that you’d use when talking to a mate having a hard time.

It’ll make keeping showing up for all the other important things that much easier.