Changing my mind

Recently, it seems as though the universe, or God, or a strange conspiracy, is trying to get a message to me, and that message is that my mental habits need to be broken.  Warning: serious introspection ahead, and proof that a friend’s assertion that I say things on my blog which I’d never say face to face is indeed true.

I have written before about how hard I find it to take a compliment, and that has not changed (in fact, looking back at that post, I fear I’ve become worse).  There is a loud voice inside that says “yes, maybe, but…”  For example, if someone tells me they enjoyed a performance of mine, I immediately draw up a mental list of reasons why they are wrong (any wrong notes, mispronounced words, moments where the character wasn’t clear, fumbled danced steps, mis-timed breathing, awkward arm movements and so on ad infinitum), a list of people who could have done it better and probably a list of reasons why that person is biased, ill-informed or otherwise not the best person to make that judgement.  This extends to other areas of my life as well.  I am very quick to decide that things are my fault, frequently call myself stupid and tend to say “I can’t do this” at least once every day.  I am always perhaps too aware of the need for improvement in my theatrical endeavours, of failings in my professional life, of ways in which I am socially awkward, and I have a tendency to look in the mirror and despair.

It has been pointed out to me many times that all of this is not healthy, particularly for someone with a history of mental illness (past downward spirals have had serious Consequences).  Recently, a peculiar combination of a few blows to my ego from external sources and a surge in unsolicited encouragement has convinced me that I need to do something about it.  I have been told good things about myself, sometimes very forcefully, but the mental habits explained above mean that this isn’t generally very effective.  I have also been reminded that I should try to see myself as God sees me.  I don’t know what He thinks about my exploits on stage (other than that He’s probably very pleased that I enjoy it), but I should know that in Him I am deeply loved and treasured.  This is something that I believe, but don’t really seem to accept.

I vow to now start living up and mean just what I say
Making resolutions, you must hold on fast…
Made my resolution now the die is cast,
I will succeed!

‘Resolutions’ from When Midnight Strikes, Charles Miller and Kevin Hammonds

It’s a little late for New Year’s Resolutions, so I’m starting small with a New Week’s Resolution.  For the next seven days, I am not allowed to say anything negative about myself, or utter the words “I can’t do this”.  I’m not sure how well I’ll manage, even for just seven days, and I know it won’t transform my life instantly, but I’m pretty sure that  it will help.  Maybe not saying these things will mean that I think them less as well.  It is, at the very least, a start.

Other steps are needed to change the way my words and thoughts about myself run, and will require the help of God, people and time. But this is something I can do right now. And after I succeed with one week, I can aim for longer, until eventually I build new mental habits that are less destructive. And that is a good way to change your mind!

    • Steve
    • February 15th, 2010

    This sounds like a healthy resolution – perhaps even something to take up for Lent? I wish you well

  1. As Steve says, that sounds like a healthy resolution. And wise to start in bite-sized chunks.

    Good luck with it.

    • Phil
    • February 16th, 2010

    Just one week. Just another week and so on. Small steps are easier to take than big ones.

    Best of luck

    • Trish
    • February 16th, 2010

    A lot of actors/performers tend to have a sensitive disposition and maybe you are like this.

    Being sensitive is mainly a good thing because it means a person can empathise with others and has the potential to be a truly great actor/performer.

    The disadvantage however is that they may have the tendency to take things too much to heart. However if a person is aware of this they can make allowances for themselves.

    Well that’s my psychoanalysis for the day 🙂

  2. Thanks, folks. It isn’t going to be easy (but very little that’s worth doing is easy), but one week at a time is a step I’m confident I can manage!

  3. You are a great actor and have terrific talent and a kind thoughtful helpful person.

  4. Only just read this! Now I know the context of your positive thinking/not-saying-negative-things-about-yourself week! It’s a very good plan. As you say, it’s not easy to do when habits have become ingrained, but one week at a time is an excellent way to do it. I pray that God with help you and give you the strength to change your mind, so that one day you will be able to see yourself as He sees you.

    Also, what Mrs Pao said.

  5. I meant to write ‘will help’, not ‘with help’, but you probably realised that. I wish there was a thing on WordPress where you could go back and edit comments you’ve made.

  1. February 21st, 2010
  2. May 17th, 2011

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