January 5, 2018
I’ve been under a pretty aggressive attack this week.
After my New Year’s Day post, someone popped up to tell me that I’m full of crap, that I’m embarrassing myself, and that nothing I’m trying to do in music or writing will ever amount to anything.
Bitter, angry, fearful, selfish, and cruel. It takes a special kind of jerk to go after somebody that way, don’t you think?
Which makes me a special kind of jerk.
The voice of attack belongs to me. Or, to be a bit more generous, the voice of attack is in my own head. It’s not me, or at least the best part of me, but there it is, savagely and convincingly pointing out my weaknesses from the inside. We really are our own worst critics sometimes. Our own worst enemies. People say things to themselves that they wouldn’t dream of saying to another human being.
Why am I telling you this?
It’s not so much because I have a great answer to the internal assault. People more advanced than me are very good at hearing those voices, acknowledging them without attachment, and letting them go. I’m getting better at that sort of thing, but it’s a constant struggle. If nothing else, I’ve reached a point where I can argue with the voices. I can recognize them as fear and ego - parts of me that are afraid to stand out and be criticized or judged.
I’m telling you this because you may have similar voices in your head, and if you’re preparing to commit one small act of courage, you should probably be prepared to hear them. This is what they do: Appear when you seem to be stepping into danger and try to talk you out of it. Yes, the voices can be extremely cruel, but also benevolent in their cruelty. It’s a perverse form of self-protection.
While they might mean well in their way, you need to be careful with the voices. If you listen to them, they can create self-doubt, anger, and depression. They can convince you that you’re not good enough. That you’re an impostor. That people are laughing at you. That you’re pretentious. That you’re a fool. That you should give up.
They are insidious and powerful.
But they’re empty.
Again, I don’t have a great plan for beating the voices. Just know that they’re likely coming if you decide to put yourself out there. Also try to understand that they are separate from you. You are not them. The part of you that wants to do something – brave, hopeful, passionate – is the real you. And the real me. The only way to beat the voices is to act (perhaps literally and figuratively). And guess what? If you fail, the sun will still come up tomorrow. Probably no one will have died, except maybe the part of you that felt afraid to try. This is victory, and it builds courage.
I’d like to tell you it’s easy. For most of us it’s not. I’m boxing out more intrusions as I write this, and will wrestle with the heavyweights when I publish it. If you’re reading it, I guess I won this round. That’s the way you have to look at it sometimes – one round at a time. Focus on this round. Be kind to yourself.
Go do your thing.