Recently, one of the life leap exercises was to identify with your inner coach and listen to what they say. I admitted that my inner coach was personified as Angelina Jolie, specifically after her role in playing Lara Croft. I have always been a fan of women who play strong independent roles in film and drama, and books. My inner coach would often be present in my life, when I was having a day of writer's procrastination and doubt, and yell “c’mon Jules, you can do this!”
But, let’s face it, Lara Croft is a character within a fantasy-game. How was I going to take this coach seriously, if I didn’t believe she was real?
Having realised my inner-critic was the creation of a terrifying-horror story Annabelle. You can, I hope, understand that self-doubt, personal annihilation and a debilitating lack of self-belief was holding me back in life, and the life as I was choosing to treat myself was going to have to change.
I had read plenty of positive energy books already, I had studied psychology but failed the exam. I had already undergone a process of change having read Susan Jeffers Feel the fear and do it anyway and I had realised, I was a victim of my own lack of self-care and encouragement. What does that mean?
I wasn't looking after myself, it is great that we are there to support others, but we have to look after ourselves too.
I decided to take a step back from my life as I knew it. Have you seen the film Lucy (2014), when the character recalls the events of passing time and makes the images speed up, so that time results into nothing. This was a fabulous scene for me, and captures a moment in my own life, as I watched, listened, and observed, not others, myself.
When people around me discussed lack, I began to step away. After all, that is how so many books suggest we deal with negativity, block it out, remove ourselves from the environment. It is only recently and with a little reflection that I can see, blocking it out and avoiding toxic environments and situations created a huge protective bubble, and allowed me to plough on with my plan to be an Author in isolation. Steering clear of the negativity! No more the self-doubt! I only had myself to deal with. Oh dear.
Sadly, I wasn’t even dealing with my own inner critic either, and it is in my Creative Writing that I can now see for myself, the many voices of the past, the present and possibly my children’s future - caused a pause in my plans in 2017.
I realised, I was writing what I thought others wanted to hear and I should have been writing for myself.
I stopped writing, withdrew from blogging and took to looking at my life through a journal. My life in general I truly appreciate, it has had many downs, and many ups, this is normal. I tend to remember the downs more than the ups and that is normal too. A great Lecturer once said, 'if everyone found life easy there would be nothing to write about". I loved that quip. I realised I had been writing in isolation, obsessed, with an assumed unobstructed vision that had become murky.
It was only when I stopped writing and began reading many random books that stumbled across my path. They didn’t cost me anything! Crazy I know, but a woman from a Writing Group in 2016 who often referred to herself as a witch said, “a book often finds you, we read books when we need them”. One of the Coaches in the Life Leap Club talks often about the inner-witch, why not take a look at Haulwen's Blogs.
So, I tested the witch’s theory.
Two of the books I read were about discipline and business development, specifically self-development, another was a fantasy-fiction about a woman working out in the Antarctic, and another story was an epic-piece written before the 16th Century, I think! It was the most amazing journey of my reading life so far. Would you believe me if I told you that I could see every protagonist or narrator was seeking out a truth for themselves? Or was that just something I was looking for? You would have to read the books to decide, but I am not here to advertise my book-shelf. Maybe if there is any truth in what the witch said back in 2016. The books will find you!
Around a similar time, the Psychologies Magazine was discussing topics of dealing with change, managing self-doubt and I decided to fill my mind with issues that truly affect women and probably men, but I can’t speak for them, only myself.
I realised I needed to be more courageous, stop doubting myself and source my self-belief. I had to stop aiming for perfection and believe in the authenticity of my values that made me who I am. Some people don’t like their own company. I love it. Although, I think I love it because it is limited. I am a mother of two, a wife, I own two dogs and a rabbit. My home is my castle and I do like to keep it clean, although, maybe my passion as a Writer sometimes forgets about the cleaning. The point is: My life is very full on the outside, and as a Writer and with all my responsibilities, it is also full on the inside. Some-times I need a break: time alone to remember what I like to do.
Yes, I was on a mission in striving to become a paper-back Author. Yes, I was keen to steer clear of negativity and focus on the positives. Yes, I was going to ensure my children lived in a bubble of perfection so that they never had to work as hard as I did to keep out self-doubt.
But, none of that is real-life either, is it?
Publishers reject! Negativity will find you. People around us will have to face issues on their own. I can’t be there all of the time protecting everything and everyone. In a world filled with the programming for busyness, it is quite impossible to look after ourselves all of the time, or is it?
Recently, I have revisited my own negative inner critic and realised, she was also afraid, she needed a bath, so I cleaned her up, tidied her hair, and now she looks like a pretty doll. (This won’t appeal to everyone, but it suited me.) The fictional characters now work together, as a team. Some people may call this critical thinking, or insanity. I prefer critical thinking. When the negative voice looms, the coach kicks in and says, “hey now, we all must make choices, try to be practical rather than afraid”. Did that sound American? I wanted it to sound like Jolie.
Can you imagine my surprise when I spied Angelina Jolie on the front of the January 2018 edition of Psychologies Magazine, with the words pride, peace and finding purpose, oh and not to forget, Be Brave! And I felt like I was finally on the right track. There are real-life people out there championing others to be brave, and be themselves. I can help others, but I can also help myself too. I felt pride in achieving how far I had come in my determination to self-publish. I sought peace and now I can find it within a negative place (it isn't always easy), and finally it is time to be brave.
So, things are changing. I no longer back away when I see negativity. I look at it for what it is and think, how can I/we turn things around? I still have the odd bad day. I am human. I now recognise it: I need time to myself, an early night, a sea-salt bath and a little self-care because tomorrow is a new day.
“C’mon, let’s do this!”
Next time, I will let you know what happened when I chose to follow the 5 second reaction method...