Thursday, June 16, 2016

Whipping a sick horse

Rollo’s classic book on anxiety and personality explains that condemning yourself is the quickest way to get a substitute sense of worth. It’s how you drown the bitter aches from feelings of worthlessness and humiliation. 

As if to say, I’m so noble and I have such high ideals and I am so ashamed of myself, that I fall short of the standard. In fact, I’m so important that god himself is actually concerned with punishing me. 

Nice try, hero. 

The reality is, condemnation is just a cloak for arrogance. Hating yourself doesn’t make you special or interesting or creative or humble, it just rots you from the inside out and makes you exhausting to be around. Which, ironically, blocks you from making genuine human connections that are necessary to help you feel better. 

I remember a period in my career when I would beat myself up for sleeping through my alarm. I’d think to myself, you slept late, you’re a lazy piece of shit and your life is going to pass you by. Get your ass to work. And then I’d spend the rest of the day­­––and night­­––secluded in a corner, working myself to the bone, trying to make up for lost time. 

And not because I wanted to create art that brought joy and inspiration to others, but because I wanted to camouflage my feelings of worthlessness.

A smarter approach would have been to practice being kind to myself in small, concrete ways. Instead of leaping out of bed in a frenzied mess, I could have spent thirty seconds giving thanks for the extra hours of sleep that my body clearly needed.

Instead of wolfing down a condiment sandwich at my desk, I could have called a friend to enjoy a meal together. And instead of working straight until midnight, I could have taken a break midway through the day and practiced yoga with my favorite instructor. 

Any of these strategies would have been healthier. Because they would have involved loving and acting generously myself. Making meaning instead of monitoring moods. Facing my situation realistically. 

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.  
scott@hellomynameisscott.com
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