Lizard Liz The Inner Critic

It’s Monday, my least favourite day of the week.

Even though I work as a freelance writer, it’s a myth that people who work from home are essentially, pajama-wearing, TV-watching layabouts who work sporadically and when the mood hits. I have to say that ever since I began working from home, I’ve been working harder than I ever had in my life!

In order to keep my sanity in the midst of working on the sea of articles that I’m currently wading through, I thought I’d take a quick break and share a Illuminated Idea that struck me out of the blue (as these types of ideas tend to do).

I’ve come to realize that while it may seem that there are a number of issues that make us unhappy or at least mildly displeased with ourselves and our day-to-day routine, the general feeling of less-than-thrilled tends to orginate from just a one or two issues that affect of our lives.

For instance, if your confidence level is low because you feel your boss has it in for you at work, that feeling is bound to radiate into other areas of your life like your marriage. You’re more likely to snap at your husband when he says dinner’s a little to salty ‘coz you’re already feeling sore about your what’s going on at the office.

So, I decided that I should really work at finding the one or two issues that create the most unhappiness in my life and here are my findings:

1) My waistline

2) My bank balance

The problem is, one expands while the other shrinks and it’s not the right one doing the expanding/ shrinking.

When I feel fat, I don’t feel like meeting people, which makes me feel reclusive and unattractive which leads to me declining invitations to social events which leaves me feeling even more reclusive…you get the picture.

As for my bank balance… well, I’m extremely fortunate that I have a seriously understanding spouse who handles the finances (plus no kids to worry about) but I recently realized that a part of my self-worth is affected by the amount of money I have in my bank account!

This might seem pretty normal to many people but it was a horrible eye-opener for me. I’ve been waiting for a few checks for some of my writing projects but they haven’t arrived yet (such is the freelance life) and I’ve been watching my bank balance get smaller and smaller. It seems to be in direct proportion with how I feel about myself – smaller and smaller.

I’m going to have to find a way to get over this. Working out to get a little more trim and earning more money will certainly do the job but I need to do something to lift my mood now.

Meditation usually gets Lizard Liz (what I call the eternally dismal, negative voice inside my head) to shut up but it’s not always possible to sneak off into a corner, sit cross-legged and get into a ‘loving kindness’ kinda mood.

Instead, I find these 3 methods are really easy to use at any time, so I’ll share them here:

Keeping an eye on my mind

When I find myself rattling on and on inside my head, I try to mentally step back and look at “Lizard Liz” (who, btw, looks like a lizard wearing a fancy hat with flowers on it). I tell her that she needs to quiet down and I use the kind of  tone I would use on a small, bewildered child. This helps me feel in control and allows me to dismiss Lizard Liz’s rattling criticisim.

Changing my posture

It’s hard to feel ‘useless’ or otherwise unworthy when you’re sitting upright and have a big, silly grin on your face. If you’re at a meeting at work, you might want to leave out the silly grin but look for an opportunity to smile at someone so your mood gets lifted. This helps me push Lizard Liz (or Detrimental Dan/Nagging Nancy or whoever it may be in your case) to the back of my mind.

Separating constructive from destructive

Sometimes, I notice that Lizard Liz actually has something worthwhile to say. If I’ve been lazy and not checked my article before submitting to the editor, Liz usually pipes up with “what if there’s a ton of mistakes and the editor never calls you again.” While the words are a little extreme, the message is sound. I should check my work before submitting it to the editor. I find Liz usually goes silent the moment I do what I’m supposed to do.

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