The deadly compare-and-contrast bug

It’s 5 O’clock in the morning. I’ve been awake since 3am. Seems little point in going back to sleep now so here I am confessing what’s on my mind.

The deadly compare-and-contrast bug – that’s what.

The reason I woke at 3am was because my mind suddenly went into a panic about the Artist’s Way course I’m running in September. Am I charging too much? Someone yesterday hinted they thought it was expensive. Maybe I’ve got it wrong. But I think it’s worth it. But maybe I’m wrong.

You know how it goes in your mind at this time in the morning?

So then I had the bright idea of scouring the internet for other Artist Way courses. Funny – in 2005 when I last did this search there was no evidence of Artist’s Way courses that I could find – now Google tells me there are loads. And my course is definitely one of the most expensive. Hmmm.

So is it good in this case to go with the gut that says I should value this work for what I believe it’s worth or do I follow what everyone else is doing?

 

Now a ball has started rolling. A ball with a bug in it. The compare and contrast bug.

 

 

And then it happened. In my searching I came across another UK site called thehappinessexperiment.co.uk . And what’s more she talks about the Artist’s Way in there too. What?!

The lady running the site started in May this year – after me. Now, I’m sure this is just a coincidence  – a meeting of like minds – but we all like to think we’re unique don’t we? And the thing that really p’s me off? Her site is GOOD.

Oh, god, the bug has just grown to elephant proportions! I feel like I’ve become a character in a Kafka novel.

I’m not original. I’m not any fun. My blog’s not juicy enough. Everyone out there is doing it better….. blah, boo, aggh, ugh.

OK clearly I need to pull myself together here. This is my happiness experiment after all. So what do I do?

This quote I found is a good start:

“Why compare yourself with others? No one in the entire world can do a better job of being you than you.”  ~Unknown

 

I’ve lost sight of what makes me, me. The fact that I have become the bug is really an invitation: it’s time to get re-aquainted with myself.

Hello, what’s your name?

Hi, my name is T.

Tell me about you, T.

Well – hmm, let’s see, well, I guess the best way to explain is by showing  you …

And it really helps to know that all this is just an infinitessimally small slice.

So my lesson for today?

If I get the compare and contrast bug take it as a sign that I’ve lost sight of myself. I’m not going to find myself  ‘Out There’. Even if I got all my friends now to say lovely things about me, it’s not where it’s at. The real antidote comes from me tuning again to me and all my complex, quirky, mad, sad, bad, hum-drum, curious, joyous, questing, creative, busy, apologetic, angry, blah, experimental, hopeful, grateful, (I could go on), sides of myself.

Cliche, I know, but – like a snowflake. Unique. Beautiful. One of many who are unique and beautiful. Like you.

Tripping up

Mixed emotions today. I woke up this morning determined to bring a new kind of seriousnes to my business practices. I would wake early, do my morning writing and an hour’s work before getting the children ready for school. Then, I would work every morning from Monday to Thursday, not allowing any kind of interruption. Seemed like a good plan – still does in many ways – but what came with this determination was also the lurking spectre of self-flagellation. I had been lax. I hadn’t brought enough weighty intention to my business dealings. I should act more professionally. I should ‘show some oomph’ as my mother used to say.

It was my friend Kelly who caught this, in a conversation we had later. All good, she said in a nutshell, but didn’t it all seem rather heavy? Er, …yes. Great catch Kelly. I got quite emotional as I cottoned on to the extent to which I had been building up a massive expectation to come up with THE answer – to know how to write THE killer workbook, to attract OODLES of new clients and interest in Future Self Now. In short I had got distracted by the long range whilst forgetting about what there is to do right now under my nose.

This reminds me of a video I saw this week that uses that classic gag in old black and white movies where a character trips up on an obstacle because he’s too focused on what’s in the distance …with painful consequences. Here’s the video – made by a man protesting about dangerous bus lanes in New York.

So, I’m off to bed now, thankfully being a lot less hard on myself and having trained my focus back to the here and now.

 

 

Beware the expert!

Since my last post, (find it here), thankfully, things have turned around. The trouble, I discovered, was that I’d got caught in a web of ‘out-there-ness’. I was paying too much attention to what I thought others wanted me to do and had projected myself outwards. The present moment, my sense of Me and my body were lost in the ether.

I know this is not uncommon. It’s happened to clients of mine who, usually in a flush of enthusiasm about a new project end up drowning in ill-fitting advice. One client, keen to set up a website for his business, for instance, found himself confused by the myriad of experts available to him and ended up with a product that in no way reflected who he is.

Beware! Many a great plan has died a death under the kosh of the perceived expertise of others. Don’t subsume your unique way of doing things to someone who may have different motivations and values to you.

The secret is to look at what’s out there, (lots of great stuff now we have the Internet of course), and take it with a pinch of salt! Look at it and ask yourself “how much of this can I ‘own’ or adapt as mine and what should be discarded?

Celebrate and nurture your You-ness. Because there will only ever be one of you, no-one will have the answers that are the exact right fit for you – except YOU of course!

Where’s the book?!

Twice today people who I haven’t seen in a while asked me about the book that I said I was going to write a year ago and haven’t. No wonder I’m feeling a little deflated now. What have I been doing? Did I get distracted? Am I someone who makes grand statements for effect and then doesn’t deliver? Here comes an old friend …. self doubt.

Now one thing I do know from this blog is that self doubt is a sure sign that I’m taking myself far too seriously. It makes me think of a mantra I have stuck to my computer screen, “It’s not about me” – a reminder that I am supposed to be the travel guide not the chauffeur. When self doubt hits it’s invariably because I think I’m supposed to have it all figured out: be all slick and knowing about life, the world and everything.

“I found my first novel difficult. I don’t want to make it sound like it’s any more difficult than driving a cab or going to any other job, but there are so many opportunities for self-doubt, that you just kind of need to soldier on.”
Anthony Doerr

The idea of ‘soldiering on’ seems like a good one right now. It’s like closing my eyes and trusting that I’m being led down the right path. That’s all I can do. My Future Self is clear to me and I have great comfort in knowing that she is Me. How I get to her might feel messy at times but as long as I DO trust, then all will be well. All will be well.

6 antidotes to beating myself up

‘I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances.’

~ Martha Washington, wife of George Washington~

“Am I predominantly letting well-being flow through me, or not? Am I letting it in?” Er – today, maybe not so much!!

It’s funny I think of this week as predominantly happy but I know I’ve written about a couple of low points too. This morning I woke up and the first thing I thought was, “Oh, no, I might have to cancel my course next week!” Registrations are so low – an all-time low for this close to the day. I then proceeded to stew and beat myself up in equal proportions.

I talked to my FS on paper and she quite rightly pointed me to yesterday’s blog. If I look back to what I’ve achieved with Future Self Now since January it is a lot: – designng and building workshops, 3 courses, 3 booster sessions, lots and lots of one-on-one sessions, a new website, Facebook and Twitter, audio blogs,  this blog and more. That does feel good but still here I am berating myself for a crappy marketing campaign.

The good news is that coincidentally I organised some sessions with a PR expert this week. We’ll be working together for the next month or so – starting to really look at what I need to reach out more.  I’m definitely excited about that.

So I suppose this is the uplifter from this state of beating myself up. If the course does end up getting cancelled then I can probably thank it for being the spur that had me really do what it takes to get my marketing sorted out. I can’t be my Future Self without bridging this gap and perhaps this is all about ‘creating the crisis’ that finally gives me the motivation to embrace it.

So here’s a few thoughts on what might work for me right now:

    1. Forgive myself – this is just part of my wonderful journey and, of course, what challenges us makes us strong
    2. Comfort and noursihment – I talk about this in my article in the Tools section of this blog called Comfort-Nurture-Action. Right now I might be needing to look after myself. If I allow myself to do that then I know I will spring back into action quickly.
    3. Count all the things that are going right – looking back at what I achieved this year really helps. Also I know that my program is great – making a lot of difference, getting wonderful feedback and that, at the end of the day, is what matters most.
    4. Put it in perspective – this is so totally not a biggy on the grand scale of human suffering. Time to get over myself!
    5. Use it -Time and time again success has been born out of failure. It is even quoted as a vital part of the road to achievement. So what am I doing resisting this?  I can use this energy and put it to great use  spurring me on to getting a proper marketing strategy sorted out. It’s been on my mind, I’ve been waiting for the right moment and this seems to be it!

On this note of embracing failure I see a perfect opportunity to share with you one of my favourite songs from one of my favourite movies – Chitty Chitty Bang Bang!

Just watching this is a perfect uplifter, so for that reason I’ll make it my 6th antidote!

“Little Me” Syndrome

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I’ve inserted this famous quote from Marianne Williamson because that bit about “We ask ourselves, Who amI to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?…” echoed my experience of this morning: I needed to write a blurb and a piece for the local paper about my upcoming talk and I’d got stuck in ‘little-me’ syndrome.

So I got some paper and started conversing with my Future Self. She took me to my talk in November and we discussed why people were there, how much they enjoy it, how much fun I have and so on. My Future Self also reminded my of a previous blog about self-doubt (see “A new one for the list“). In that blog I realised that a great antidote for self-doubt is to remind mysel to stop takeing myself so seriously! How can I have fun with this instead? What does it look like to have a ball at the talk?

So what if only 2 people came? It would be great practice, I love doing talks anyway and I could have a great time with those 2 people!

Much better! The first draft of my blurb and article got written and I left to go pick up the kids, Soweto String Quartet full blast, sun shining through the car windows, feeling ‘brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous’!

The art of being unique

I went to a women’s networking event this morning. I’m still trying to work out if this kind of event is for me. I’ve been to 3 or 4 now and all the ladies are lively, motivated and interesting. It’s not them, it’s me. I can’t even put my finger on why I’m so two-headed about it. Maybe it’s the business focus. Maybe it sometimes feels a little like trying-too-hard. I’m not even sure I love the idea of gender-specific forums. I suppose I’ll work it out over time but in the meantime I’ll keep going because – well, because something tells me I should. At the very least I’ll learn something about myself. Will I discover that I’m just being narrow-minded and even snobby? Watch this space!

All this does make me think about what I call “The Other”. It’s that tendency we all have at times to believe that someone else’s opinion has got to be superior to our own. Boy, oh boy, I feel like a great deal of my life has been plagued by this knee-jerk subsuming of myself. I think I’m largely cured now – these past 10 years of focused self-development have definitely worked wonders – but every now and then I go down that rabbit hole. Like just before the summer when I tied myself in knots downloading e-books, listening to webinars, tweeting, facebooking and generally running myself ragged trying to find the answer to my marketing dilemmas. How easy it was to get waylaid by the latest social networking guru or invitation to a gazillion dollar weekend on Success!

A lot of this is actually good stuff and oftentimes it’s free, but talk about information overload! In the end – just before the kids broke up from school – I caught myself. I was floating outside of my body, any sense of perspective buried in the 10 step program to this and the once-in-a-lifetime bonus gift for that.

So how I do keep making sure I keep things ‘real’ – in other words how can I take on others’ advice and opinions and still keep a strong sense of my own purpose and direction? Here’s some thoughts:

a) I need to accept that I’m going to get caught in the rabbit hole every now and then, so I must not beat myself up

b) I can trust my Future Self and my instincts.  “If it feels good then it’s right” – it sounds fluffy but it’s the best measure I have aligning for to my truth

c) I must remember that we are all as individual as snowflakes. How can someone else’s way ever be entirely right for me? I can take bits and pieces but ultimately T. Sansome at her best is simply a bundling up of all that I’ve learned, that I’ve loved and that I wish to take with me on my journey ahead.

This last one reminds me of one of my favourite songs – I used to play it to my Artist’s Way Workshop participants. Have a listen and let’s feel empowered to be utterly, gloriously, uniquely ourselves!

(Bit of a dramatic version but you get the gist!)

The non-existent marshmallow of happiness

I find it fascinating that today I find myself wanting to apologise for having had another good day.

This is what I’m talking about!

This is another good reason why I’m doing this blog. This pathological sesnse that too much happiness is something I need to blush about. It’s a bit like I think that there’s only so much happiness available to everyone. Somewhere out there, there is a big lump of fluffy-stuff called Happiness – like an enormous marshmallow perhaps – and I’ve just been caught, with a guilty look on my face  and sticky, sugary stuff stuck to my lips.

Happiness is not a thing, it’s a possibility and therefore there is NO LIMIT to it. It’s like kindness. We don’t say: “Oh you’re being so kind, you’ve taken my kindness away!” On the contrary Kindness tends to be infectious. That’s a good thing. It’s the same with Happiness. Happiness can be infectious and that helps people.

Having said that, I know that if you’re not feeling particularly happy or kind then bloody happy-clappy people and do-gooders can get right up your nose, so I’d suggest to all those feeling happy or kind to just be careful who you talk to!

And if you’re in any doubt that Happiness isn’t infectious check out this great video – I defy you not to end up with a grin from ear to ear!

Laughing quadruplet babies video

New one for the list

Here’s a new one for my list – self-doubt. First time since I started this blog.

I’m saying to myself: “What am I doing writing about beer and carrots? Who wants to hear about a happy life getting better anyway? Not that anyone’s listening at the moment anyway…”

I suppose this is a really good test. This is a typical ceiling for me. I can only be so happy – allow myself so much self-congratulation – before I have to start beating myself over the head with a wet copy of Stroud Life and tell myself to bring myself down a notch or two.

So, come on T. – what’s the antidote to Self Doubt? Julia Cameron says it’s self love. Even though that’s true, in this ‘red-hot minute’ that sounds a bit cute and a bit too opposite. Its a mistake to expect ourselves to leap from the frying pan into a bed of roses.

Small steps…. I think right now it’s enough to say: “This is what I’ve chosen to do. This is what feels right to do. I have to try it, even though at times it might seem silly, shallow, naiive or optimistic”.

This is a perfect time for the Energy Ladder. If doubts persist in the morning I’ll do one but right now it’s nearly midnight, Guy is sleeping next to me and its time I closed the lid of my computer. Maybe I can try a mental Energy Ladder before I fall asleep.

I’ll report back – oh non-existent audience. Ha! That makes me smile. Hey, self-deprecating humour – that helps. I’ve stumbled on a partial antidote by accident! Taking oneself too seriously is clearly a pre-cursor to self-doubt.

Plenty to sleep on. Good night Me!