Monday, March 22, 2010

Impediments, Part IV: Canoodle Your Ego

Who hasn’t been deflated by a harsh word or review? If you know someone who hasn’t, let me know, because I want to start taking classes from her. Everyone I know has, at some point, heard the pointed statement that eviscerates without breaking the skin. Then we pick up our stomachs, our hearts, our livers, and our gallbladders and limp away to catalog the injuries.

Instead of letting those statements dominate our self-perception and taint our magic, we need to canoodle our self-esteem. We need to take a break from the negativity marching band in our head and listen to the single woodwind of self confidence playing away behind the bleachers.

(Think I use enough metaphors today?)So how do I canoodle my self-esteem when I’m down?

  • I give myself permission to grieve.
  • I remind myself that while my emotions are valid, I still choose what I say and how I react outwardly.
  • I work on another project or trait. The hiatus gives me time to be more objective.
  • When something I feel is crucial to my identity is criticized, it is easy to believe I’m a rotten person all around. I tell myself that I’m more than one thing.
  • I remember the offending criticizer had something worthwhile to say, but his rhetoric hindered the reception. Miscommunications remind me that we all have our flaws. I try to forgive him for his.
  • Then I try to forgive myself. I try to forgive myself for the nasty things I mutter under my breath, the I’ll-show-yous, the two hours I spend curled up on the couch staring into space, the hiatus, and the way I weep to my husband.
  • I express gratitude to the people who are there for me, especially my husband.
  • I let people know the positive I see in them and their work.

Getting a critique can be a productive and empowering experience. Check out how Slushbusters build up contributors.

Remember, even the great magic-makers have bad days. Madeleine L’Engle even had rough times: “If you’re going to write and be published, you’ve got to expect to have a few arrows thrown at you. They’re going to hurt, and you’re going to bleed. You’re probably going to cry if you’re like me. But that’s just part of it and you have to learn.”

We learn who we are and how to canoodle our fragile egos.


  1. Thanks for the shout-out, Kristi. And I'd like to once again acknowledge the supportive husbands of the world. And the supportive peers, because they're going through the same stuff.

  2. You're right, we'd be lost without them.