Why is it that when a friend asks for help or advice it comes so readily but when trying to figure out the best course of action for ourselves we become like children*, lacking in understanding of the way things work and the best course of action.
The other day I was working on some grant applications where I needed to talk about myself, specific past experience and future plans. The second I sat down to begin, I forgot who I was. I couldn’t recall a single thing I had done worth speaking about and as far as future plans, those same plans that up until then I rehashed in my mind every single night before I fall asleep...well, I couldn’t remember any of them.
I knew enough to fill out my full name and date of birth but that was it.
Six months earlier someone asked me to help them brain storm a similar application. They were in the same position I found myself, believing they had no qualifications or relevant experiences when they certainly did.
Because I know them well, I was immediately able to remind them that they did XYZ in 2014 and accomplished ABC at the end of 2016. After we reviewed everything they realized ‘Oh wow, I didn’t know I did all of this!'
Another time, a different friend was preparing a job proposal and asked me to check it. I made a few choice edits to strengthen her presentation of herself and upon reviewing it she was shocked, not at my editing skills, but after reading the truth of herself on paper she remarked ‘This is who I always wanted to be, wow I never realized this is who I turned into!’
They say only crazy people talk to themselves but these days I disagree.
Because this is what it took for me to go from a blank page, to remember who I am and complete the aforementioned applications!
Sometimes it's necessary to talk to ourselves as if we were someone else, to ask questions then wait for and listen to the answers. Even to give a gentle harangue in the aftermath of knowing better but not having done better.
Talking to yourself (out loud to boot!) is certainly a healthier alternative to the mental persecution that leads to nowhere. By stepping outside oneself and giving the same consideration you would to a friend you can move from stagnancy or even despair to seeing yourself in a truer light.
This became most apparent to me a few weeks ago when I celebrated my birthday. It was spent alone, with some excellent books I’d been longing to read, and a few hours in the kitchen stretching my culinary muscles. Later in the evening after a celebratory glass of wine, it was time to have a heart to heart - with my self. I was pleased with some aspects of how the previous year had been but I knew there were some things I needed to improve upon. And so I sat myself down, looked in the mirror and had a conversation with myself.
It’s been several weeks since and I’m noticing the positive effects. Not just because it’s a new year and a chance to start fresh in every sense of the word, but by being honest and kind during my in face to face chat, I’ve developed a stronger connection to my self.
These days one of the most important things to me is my writing. Yet during the past year, though I’ve written much, it has only been by sheer force that I’ve had the courage to review anything that I’ve created. After facing my self and having that conversation i’ve noticed that this has lessened tremendously. I'd wondered for a long time what exactly it would take for me to escape this habit of hiding from myself, and this was it; a confrontation, a conversation.
Now this might all sound very insane, and different strokes etc, but for me it worked.
Now, self talk is probably best done in the privacy of your home, that way you’re not standing on a street corner turning left to ask a question then right to deliver the answer.
Give it a try and let me know what you think.
*Come to think of it, children have very good understanding of the way things work, though they may not always know the best course of action.