On the surface, I often come across as a smile-every happy-go-lucky guy with not a care in the world. My optimism often shines brightest, out of all the emotions squirrelled inside me, and so my friends and family never really see the negative self-flagellation I often endure. I'll admit, it's the kind of self-doubt that never paralyzes me from doing something worthwhile, but more often pinches me to say, "You sure you want to do this?"
I often find I've been plagued with five types of negative thoughts trying to worm their way into my psyche, poking holes in my ego and derailing the good vibes that initally had me soaring. Maybe you'll recognize a few of them:
You're an imposter. You're simply not good at what you do.
Otherwise known as imposter syndrome, such poison-tipped inner monologues have infected many artists over the years. It can be difficult to consistently stiff-arm that idea of being an imposter, especially when you're surrounded by such inspiring and talented writers and creatives everyday. But I've learned to recognize the encroaching whisper of this toxic thought, often reminding myself, "No, you are an original, and accept the thumbs-up feedback from friends and family as what it is: appreciation for your art."
Are you really better than you were yesterday?
For context to this sly needling, one of my mottos is "There is no need to compare yourself to another. The true greatness is being better than your previous self." So, in some way, I try to be a more accomplished David than the prior day, even if that relates to small things (Calling parents more, giving a dollar to the homeless man outside LCBO, helping a friend move etc). Some days, I slip back into bad habits, especially when it comes to food, something I have long struggled with as a charmingly chunky guy. I'm not too surprised that negativity finds it way into my brain; I needed to be better today and I wasn't. Thing is, I can be hard on myself and I've gradually learned to shelve this particular self-doubt and pick myself up to recognize that some days we aren't improving ourselves and that's OK. Tomorrow, it can happen.
Be a better friend.
I think this type of trash idea infects me when I feel like I've neglected a friend that's been trying to get in touch with me to hang out but the timing is off. I've always been someone with many friends in various circles - the poetry crew, the high school crew, the "Russians" - and it isn't easy to ensure every friend gets a decent share of my time. Does that sound egotistical? I'm not sure, but it rings a bit like, "Oh woe is me, too many friends!" But I think friendship fadeaways happen way too often when we get complacent about relationships that may have been always been solid, but start to fray at the edges as we age. And I'm determined to keep the friends that matter to me most, even when the "Be a better person" starts to echo in my head. Actually, especially when that happens.
You're not worthy of love.
As someone who's been single more often than being in relationship, this nagger of an insult appears as annoyingly as a neon pop-up ad. I've never been one to feel depressingly lonely as a single guy, thanks to so many great friends and fam feeding my social life. But I'm not immune to such doubts when those patches of singledom strike particularly hard. I've trained myself to block those pop-ups by complimenting myself on never compromising in relationships, and learning from each woman I've dated. Such discipline in steering your thought patterns to that space takes work, and won't happen in a fingersnap after that first or fourth breakup. But I've learned I can be a positive person most of the times thanks to my will to push away negative thoughts that encroach on my everyday.
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