Negative thoughts and fears that you or your creative work isn’t good enough, regret and guilt over missed opportunities, procrastination and “woulda-coulda-shouda’s” — these negative thoughts poison your day and your work like nothing else. But somehow, they’re also like a drug that we DaVinci types can’t seem to get enough of. We are champions at beating ourselves up for the past and fretting about the future. After all, there’s so much we could/should do and haven’t done, and we can’t decide, which is another reason to berate ourselves. The results can be paralysis, despair, irritability at those who don’t understand us, and acid reflux (I’m singlehandedly keeping the Tums people in business).
But there is an easy and fun solution. Stop taking yourself so damned seriously. Laugh at your own craziness. Trust me, if you look for the humor, you will find it, because most of this thinking really is pretty ridiculous. It only has power because it goes unchallenged.
Pictured above is my newest cherished object in my life — a drawing created for me by my friend and colleague Chris Browne (the cartoonist of the lovable Viking Hagar the Horrible). He posted one like it on Facebook from a recent art show, and when I said I wanted to buy it , he made one just for me. I now have “My Personal Demon” hanging on the wall next to my desk. I love how miserable and forlorn he looks. He doesn’t want to be mean, he just can’t help it. That’s how I feel when I say horrible things to myself. Seeing it in funny cartoon form makes me laugh, and reminds me to lighten up. Also, “objectifying” my demon as a distinct character puts it outside my head where I can tame it and tell it, “Shut the hell up, I’m working.”
To laugh at your own negative thoughts and feelings, try these ideas:
- Think of what your own “demons” of self-criticism, fear, regret, etc. would look like and draw them as ridiculously as you can. If you don’t draw, cut out cartoons from magazines (or even print out this post, I’m sure Chris would not mind!).
- Write down the negative things you say to yourself. Now say them out loud, over and over, using various silly voices. Extra points if you can do it after sucking helium from a balloon. Sound as dopey and comical as possible.
- Simply ask yourself during your next funk or fit of anxiety, “What’s actually funny about this?” . If your brain growls back, “NOTHING!” , then ask, “Ok, then what could be funny about this if I wanted it to be? ” Maybe you could write a scene of sitcom-y dialogue based on your negative thoughts, a silly poem or a joke. Imagine yourself in your current situation as a character in a movie, if that movie were a comedy. What would happen next?
You’ll find that once you make enough fun of your inner meanie, as with any bully, it will just slink away. Or you may find, as I do with my “Personal Demon”, that it’s actually kind of cute and charming, and I just want to tell him to take a rest, I can handle it from here. Trust me, that will really disarm him. 🙂
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Are you struggling with too many talents, skills, ideas? You may have The DaVinci Dilemma™! Find tools, fun quizzes, coaching, inspiration and solutions for multi-talented people at http://www.davincidilemma.com/ .