I don’t talk much about the book I am writing. It’s not that I’m secretive or hiding anything. From long experience, I know that if I talk about it too much, I’ll pull the wind out of the sails. The ideas will shrink.
This week, I’ve been having a hard time with the book. I keep writing around the issue at hand. Finally, early this morning, I sat down and wrote a very hard section. A section that did not cast a flattering light on my own Story. Or me.
And that was the whole point. I did dumb things. I still do. But I am no longer making them the heart of my Story–the reason for my mistakes. The excuse to continue making the same mistakes. Once you own your mistakes and admit them, you take away the feeding frenzy of your Inner Critic.
We love our Stories. They are the meat and marrow of the decisions we make every day. Unfortunately, they are also the main meal for our Inner Critics.
“My parents never encouraged me,” we sigh, feeding the Inner Critic the “you can’t be enough because you weren’t nurtured” broth.
“At home, the boys got all the attention,” we complain, spooning the sweet accusation that we aren’t worth the effort of love, attention, or praise into the mouth of our Inner Critic.
“No one ever loved me enough,” we say, giving the Inner Critic a meaty bone of self-doubt to chew on for years.
The saddest (and funniest) childhood comment I’ve heard as a coach came from
the client who said, “My parents gave me everything. They encouraged me and praised me. No wonder I never learned how to deal with disappointment. I don’t have the ability to be self-critical. It was my parent’s fault, really.”
Poor childhood. It can’t win. If we’re treated badly, it ruined our life. If we were treated well, that’s wrong, too.
Yes, I take seriously the grim stories of childhood I hear–stories of abuse, abandonment, loss. No one can take any of those stories lightly. They cause terrible damage. But not irreparable damage.
The sign of growth, the sign of change, the sign of reinvention is the willingness to admit that we can’t go back and change the past. It happened. Blessedly, it is also over, and in the past. The next step is yours to make and live. And that’s what the book is about.
–-Quinn McDonald is writing a book. Again. It’s turned into a habit.