Yes I Can

Back when I was writing children’s books, I had a pretty simple formula I used to create my stories.  I would create a main character and place him or her in a situation that they desperately wanted to change, which would give me the main plot of my story.  If I were writing a longer book for older children, I would then plan out a chapter-by-chapter timeline to help me keep track of everything as I wrote.  (Details have never been my strong point.)  Finally, I would begin writing the actual manuscript….and that was usually the point where my creative confidence began to drain away and the paralyzing self-doubt crept in.

The problem was that no matter how passionately I believed in the story I was trying to write, a part of me was always thinking, “Will an editor like this?  Is my main character interesting enough?  Is my plot believable?” and so on and so on.  And those are valid concerns.  As all writers who hope to get their work accepted by a publisher know, finding an editor who wants to buy our manuscript is an absolute necessity.  But the constant presence of the critical editor in my mind basically squashed my creativity and made it impossible to write from my heart.  And the result was often a competent, but flat, manuscript that lacked a unique and creative spark.

Sadly, that internal critic isn’t limited to my writing.  I can look back on my life and see many times when I allowed that little voice that says “you can’t, you shouldn’t, you’re not good enough,” to dictate my choices and my behavior.  There were too many times when I turned my back on an opportunity, didn’t want to take a risk, or stayed silent when I should have spoken up. There were too many times that I held back when I should have stepped boldly forward.

The simple truth is, when our internal dialogue turns too negative, we aren’t really able to live our lives to their fullest potential.  And that’s a tragedy that none of us should allow.

I believe most of us get better at self-acceptance as we get older, and I’m no exception.  As the years go by, I find myself learning to tune out that negative “internal committee” and to replace it with one that is so much more compassionate and encouraging.  I find myself being willing to risk simply being myself by following my dreams, voicing my true opinions and in general, doing what feels right to me.  It’s a journey, but I am moving slowly and steadily forward.

If I had the chance to go back in time and speak to my younger self, I would have so much advice I would want to share.  But if I was limited to just one thing, it would be, “Believe in yourself and follow your heart.”  Because if we can learn to do that, everything else will surely work out.

143 thoughts on “Yes I Can

  1. Getting older does take care of a lot of the problems we had when younger of not believing in ourselves. So – maybe time to dust off the paper and pen (or keyboard) and try again? There’s self-publishing, you know?

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  2. Excellent post as always and yet another one that spoke directly to me (as I’m sure it did to many others). I got teary and heard myself saying, “Yep, that’s me.”

    “The simple truth is, when our internal dialogue turns too negative, we aren’t really able to live our lives to their fullest potential.  And that’s a tragedy that none of us should allow.”

    My encouragement as the week begins … “Believe in yourself and follow your heart.”

    Thank you so much, Ann! 🙂

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    • You’re so welcome, Brenda! I’m glad to know it helps. I think we all struggle with that negative internal dialogue at some point or other. And I really appreciate your kind comments on my blog. One way that we can help one another with this struggle to is encourage each other, and you are very, very good at doing that!

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  3. Hi Ann. I like that phrase “internal committee” – so often it can keep us back. I do think as we get older we understand that we can pretty much try and do a lot more than we thought we could as our younger selves. Great post.

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    • Thank you! I didn’t actually come up with that phrase, but I sure hung on to it and used it after I heard someone else say it. It describes so perfectly the negative thoughts we have that hold us back.

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