You suck booty. We’ve all heard it. The words come in assorted forms and from various sources, but it all means the same thing: You suck.
The other day, I heard these words in the form of an inner voice. I am currently an Interior Designer, working part-time for a local construction company in Grand Rapids, MI. I am the sole designer, so I experience the positives and the negatives of working alone. Positive: I get the final say on the design. The negative: I lack colleagues with whom I can collaborate to create the best designs for the client. Everything comes from one perspective, and it’s mine.I was assigned a project where I was to meet with an established business (and previous client) to help him select new paint colors for the exterior of his building. All cards on the table, selecting paint colors is one of my weakest and least favorite areas of design. You’d think with so many colors to choose from, it would be easy. But, did you realize there are at least 16 shades of white? And that is only in one fan deck, from one company! I digress. Needless to say, I was feeling anxious coming in to this meeting. I pulled into the parking lot and slowly gathered my things. I took my time looking at the building and surveying the project before walking in to meet with the client. We met. He was cordial and essentially said, “I know my type of business, but I am not artistic. This is why I need you, the professional, to help me figure this out.” The professional? Yes, I suppose that is what I am.
After a brief meeting inside, I exited the building and was left alone to figure out which colors would work best – and that’s when the voices kicked in:
You suck at this. Who do you think you are, picking out paint colors? I bet you’d rather be anywhere but here right now. Professional? Ha! Hardly. How do you even keep this job if you can’t pick out paint colors? Oh – you better pick out the right one! He’s trusting your judgment. You better not screw this up and make this building look like an embarrassment. He says he wants it to stand out, so why don’t you choose orange and lime green. ahhhahahahaha…
In that moment, I honestly wasn’t prepare for those voices. So instead of silencing them, I went right along with them:
Yeah, you’re right. I WOULD rather be anywhere but here right now. And yes, I DO suck at this… and I probably WILL screw it up. I don’t know how I keep this job either. Man. This sucks. I suck.
Have you experienced something similar? What do the voices say to you? Like I mentioned, these lovely words can come from all sorts of sources: your friends, your family, your colleagues, your boss, your significant other, the media, your inner self. Wow. So many places to hear how crappy you are and what a crappy job you are doing. Sometimes, another person may just make a passing comment, but to you, it hits a nerve and runs deep.
So what do you do with this?
One way you can respond is with positive affirmations. In her book, The Artist’s Way, author Julia Cameron describes it as such, “An affirmation is a positive statement of (positive) belief, and if we can become one-tenth as good at positive self-talk as we are at negative self-talk, we will notice an enormous change. Affirmations help achieve a sense of safety and hope.“
Julia goes on to say, “When we first start working with affirmations, they may feel dumb. Hokey. Embarrassing. Isn’t this interesting? We can easily, and without embarrassment, bludgeon ourselves with negative affirmations: ‘I’m not gifted enough/not clever enough/not original enough/not young enough…’ But saying nice things about ourselves in notoriously hard to do. It feels pretty awful at first.”
Try this exercise. (Taken from Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way)
Choose an affirmation to write about yourself. Here’s an example – and one that I will use myself after writing this post :) – “I am a brilliant and talented designer.” Now, write that same sentence, ten times in a row. While you are busy doing that, you will notice something start to happen. Your Censor will begin to object. “Hey, you can’t say that positive stuff around me!” Notice the objections. These are your blurts. You’ll be amazed at the corrupt things your subconscious will blurt out. Write them down.
These blurts flag your personal negative core beliefs. They hold the key to your freedom in their ugly little claws. Make a list of your personal blurts. Now, it’s time to do some digging. Where do these blurts come from? Mom? Dad? Teachers? Friends?
Once you expose these core negative beliefs, you can dig them up from the depths and begin to work with them. Now, choose some affirmations that speak directly to these negative core beliefs. Over time, these affirmations will strengthen you and you will come to believe – in your core – the truth about yourself. When the negative voices kick in, you will be able to say, “Hey! I do not suck booty and this is why — I am a brilliant and talented designer.”
Question: Have you had heard these voices? What were you doing at the time?