Posts tagged writer mindset
Writer Mindset: Upper Limits and the Sneaky Secrets of Self Sabotage
Do you get in the way of your own success?

Do you get in the way of your own success?

Kerry woke with a headache. A few swallows into her morning coffee she realized her momentum had brought her head right smack against an Upper Limit and she was being crushed at the intersection of growth and limitation...
— Me

The quote above is from my journal.

You see, I have this weird little problem.

There are too many good things happening in my life.  I’m getting set to release Everything You Are and it’s getting some lovely buzz. I’m excited about my new Dancing with Your Demons class. I get to speak at upcoming conferences. Things in my life are positive and exciting and expanding in new and wonderful ways.

The morning I wrote that journal entry I woke up feeling miserable and a little depressed, with a low level headache just asking permission to turn into the real thing and disable me for the day, so that I could have a good and valid reason not to do a few important things that would help me fly a little closer to my dreams.

Right about now you’re probably thinking I’m crazy.

“Good things are a problem for you? Kerry, you are one crazy woman. Go ahead send all of your awesome positive things my way. I’ll take ‘em.”

I hear you. It’s completely illogical to shut yourself down when things are going well. But self sabotage is a common problem, and I’m willing to bet that you have a few self sabotaging behaviors of your own.

In his book The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level, Gay Hendricks talks about what he calls the Upper Limit Problem.

Hendricks believes that we all have unconscious limits that mark the boundary of how happy, successful, rich, famous, or loved we think we are allowed to be. It’s like our own personal glass ceiling, one formed by our own beliefs rather than the beliefs of others.

When we bump up against an upper limit problem it makes us uncomfortable. Anxiety kicks in—sometimes low level, sometimes an outright panic. And because we’re uncomfortable and anxious we do things to deflect further success, happiness or love so we can return to our level of comfort again.

Say you reach the amount of happiness you are comfortable with. The idea of more happiness makes you feel a little anxious, so subconsciously you do things to fix that problem. You start mulling on unhappy thoughts. Maybe you pick a fight with someone you love. Or you forget to do something important and drama immediately follows.

Or maybe you’ve been asked for pages by your dream agent. You forget to back up your work and lose your entire novel. Or you get into a big fight with your critique partner and feel too miserable to get the pages in the mail. Or you don’t have time, because you suddenly “have to” be involved in three different fundraisers at your kids school.

In my case, I got uncomfortable because I’d exceeded my comfort zone with the level of success I believe I’m allowed to have. My inner saboteur rushed in to save the day with a down mood, a headache, a desire to curl up in a corner and physically make myself smaller rather than to continue the actions that would lead to further success and abundance.

Fortunately, I’ve been dancing with my self-saboteur for a while now. I recognize the signs. I know what tends to trigger the impulse to dumb myself down, dim my shine, make myself smaller. And I know some surprisingly easy and effective ways to allow myself to keep soaring just a little higher.

I will be teaching everything I know about upper limits and dancing with self sabotage in the Dancing with Your Demons: Healing Writer Wounds class that I’m offering September 26, and I’d love to have you join us. We’ll be learning to identify our hidden barriers and shift them with EFT, forgiveness, mantras, anchors, journaling and other easy and effective methods that are going to open the skies for you and let you use the wings you’ve been given.

If you’re a DIY type, I get that.

Whatever you do, read The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks. I’ve been working with my own self sabotage for a long time now, and have learned from many wonderful teachers, but when I read about my dominant hidden barrier I was hit with clarity so powerful it stole my breath and brought me to tears.

And then read Author Your Life: How One Writer Changed Her Life Through the Power of Storytelling, and How You Can, Too  by Lara Zeilin. Lara teaches a journal technique of writing in the third person (as I did in the example at the beginning of this post) as a way of decreasing upper limit anxiety and creating new beliefs that allow us to live our dreams.

This is powerful and important work. How ever you go about it, I’d love to hear your story.

Writer Mindset: End the War with Your Inner Critic

Inner critic. Personal demon. Shadow. Dark side.

Whether you use one of these terms for your negative self talk or just call the problem Fred, if you’re a writer then you know all about that nagging, negative, pervasive, and sometimes downright toxic – thing – that tries to get in the way of our writing.

The inner critic is one of the most difficult problems writers face. That negative inner commentary takes a tremendous toll on our creativity, our productivity, and even the quality of our work. It leads us into procrastination. It creates avoidance and contributes to burn out. It steals our love for writing and fills us with misery and self-loathing. Under its influence some of us stop writing or never even get started in the first place.

Given the monstrousness of its behavior and the extent to which it harms us, maybe it’s not surprising that we talk about this common creative problem as though it were something separate from us, something alien and “other.”

When we come face-to-face with our darker side, we use metaphors to describe these shadow encounters: meeting our demons, wrestling with the devil, descent to the underworld, dark night of the soul...
— ~Connie Zweig, Meeting the Shadow

Using a metaphor offers a degree of separation that allows us to engage in ongoing warfare without ever fully assuming responsibility . It also ensures that we can never win. Because here’s the thing, people:

My inner critic, demon, shadow, whatever, is absolutely and indubitably part of me. And yours is part of you. Which means we are waging war with ourselves.

This cannot end well. In fact, as long as we live, it cannot end at all. And yet, below is a small sampling of the popular advice on offer for dealing with the inner critic problem.

Four Ways to Overcome Your Inner Critic

How to Stand up to Your Inner Critic.

Taming Your Inner Critic

Five immediate and easy ways to silence your inner critic.

These are all from page one of a Google search for “inner critic,” and they are all high-powered, informed, intelligent sites, including Psychology Today and TED Talks.

I have to confess that I’ve spent the last few years using similar language when talking about the critic. I’m sorry about that. And I’m out to repair the damage.

Here’s what I’ve come to believe. if you try to silence, tame, or overcome your inner critic, you are silencing, taming, or overcoming a part of yourself. Maybe it’s not the best and brightest and most lovable part of you, but who can blame it? It’s unheard, invalidated, unloved, and it’s naturally gotten a little ugly and muddied up because of that.

Psychologist Carl Jung theorized that we all have a shadow self which contains the unconscious parts of our personality that we do not want to own, usually because they are unsavory and unpleasant and we don’t want to acknowledge that we contain this darkness. Because these pieces of us are unconscious and untended, they can create all kinds of havoc in our lives. 

But it’s not only the ugly stuff that gets stuffed away into the shadow: 

...the shadow contains not just destructive aspects of the personality, but also potent, creative, and powerful capabilities. During our development certain traits and impulses were condemned by our family, peers, and educators, not out of care but out of envy, fear, ignorance or jealousy. Our proclivity to abide by social expectations also caused us to repress talents, innate abilities, and impulses which if cultivated and developed had the potential to make us more effective beings in the world.
— Carl Jung and the Shadow: the hidden power of our dark side

Our toxic, negative self talk has its roots in our childhood and early creative lives. It continues to live on because we believe the lies that we were told, and because we have unhealed wounds that continue to fester. We live in a condition akin to Stockholm syndrome, where we have internalized the words of those who want to keep us small and captive.

Dark, yes?

But stay with me, because there is hope – so much bright, beautiful, wonderful hope.

Jung believed that by embracing our shadow we can we become our best, brightest, and fully realized selves.

And I believe this is how we resolve the problem of the inner critic, by learning to dance with our demons. When we heal our writer wounds, transform our negative, toxic self talk into positive, encouraging messages, and forgive the people and events that created those wounds in the first place, we can reclaim a valuable and powerful part of our creative selves instead of wasting our energy fighting against it.

This frees up so much abundant, creative energy and joy so we can get to our writing and other creative work unhindered and actually aided by a helpful, thoughtful, critic that serves rather than impeding our progress.

Stay tuned for more posts on DIY inner critic transformation, or join me for my brand new Dancing with Your Demons: Transforming Writer Wounds class starting September 26.





You Can Re-write the Story of Your Life

Even if you’re a writer, it may have escaped your notice that writing can completely change your life. And I’m not talking about writing that runaway bestseller that earns you a gazillion bucks and a blockbuster movie (although how cool would that be?)

I’m talking about writing to build healthy relationships, improve your physical or mental health, maybe even become a better human being and figure out who you are as a human on this planet.

Meet my friend Lara Zielin. A few years back, she experienced a personal and professional crisis that sent her reeling, but then she got this big ah-ha moment and realized writing could help her find her way again. Within a year of that realization, her life and heart had been transformed, all because she’d put pen to paper.

You can read the book she wrote about that journey, Author Your Life, right here among other places.

Lara loves this work so much she has put together a FREE online summit called Author Your Life: How to Use Writing to Kick Fear in the Teeth, Send Obstacles Packing, and Create the Life You Want.

I’m honored, humbled, and super excited that Lara invited me to be part of the summit, along with 20 other experts, to discuss the power of writing to change everything.

In the summit, I’ll be on my soapbox demolishing the myth that creativity and writing are frivolous. Writers need to write! Even if you don’t think of yourself as “a writer” or “a creative” it can still be an amazing, heart-healing power in your life.

You can join this free event by registering right here:

And when you do, you’ll hear incredible experts using writing to unleash change as well as practical how-to advice so you can put this into practice yourself. This includes how to use writing to:

• Silence your inner critic
• Face fear and get un-stuck
• Connect to your community
• Embrace and high-five your authentic self
• Change the story you tell yourself about work

And much more!

Register now if you’re ready to grab a pen (or a crayon or whatever) and get your breakthrough.