What You Call Yourself When No One’s Listening

I’ve finally recovered from an injury called “turf toe”, a common injury for athletes who quickly change directions, jump and push off of rigid surfaces, like football players and martial artists.  I did it while sparring in taekwondo with a large and formidable opponent, an unmoving wall of Axe deodorant and teenage defiance.

Thinking of myself as an athlete feels only slightly less pretentious than calling myself a writer. If who we are is what we do, then perhaps both appellations apply, but sketchily. I’ve only begun to get a little more comfortable with writer, since it is so often interrupted by other titles: chauffeur, accountant, nurse, volunteer and the “what’s for lunch?” lady.

It is human nature to label and compartmentalize – especially one’s self.  Enlightened and self-actualized people may live as an integrated whole and never question themselves by label. I am not far enough along the path of enlightenment, having made several picnic and rest stops along the way at Self-destruction, Laziness and Apathy (there’s a lot of people parking at that stop).

Beyond the labeling of occupations and hobbies, we also have a more adjectival way of naming ourselves. Negative labels that come and settle in as we’re growing up, or during times when we are vulnerable to unkind messages – as children, after a relationship breaks up, a job ends, lapses in self-esteem. For many years, the negative tapes in my head (I know, I’m dating myself – maybe yours is a data chip) would play in a loop.

The most effective tool I’ve ever learned was in a parenting book and it’s a cliché: Characterize the behavior, not the person. We don’t just need to do this with children, but with ourselves. I started to pay attention to what I called things. When I dropped something, I was clumsy. When I gained a couple of pounds, I was a gi-normous whale. When I forgot to do something, I was an absentminded jerk. We wouldn’t do this to someone we cared about – could you imagine calling a friend a clumsy, fat jerk?

I was taking a universal approach to negative or even neutral occurrences that did not apply to me as a whole person. I had to unlearn that behavior. Kids must learn that failure and mistakes are not what defines a person, but how they react to those errors does. It’s a skill that impacts our entire lives.

How many adults do you know that don’t have that skill? They are unlucky or “shit magnets” and full of tales of injustices, transgressions and bitterness. They can’t let things go or move forward. They look older than they are – you want to find another water cooler, checkout lane or playground just to get away from them. If it’s exhausting to hear, imagine living it.

I came across Dr. Martin Seligman’s Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. One of the labels I had heard applied to myself, and had internalized, was that I was a pessimist, so naturally this book title appealed to me.

It turns out that I was already doing many of the things that an optimist would do. People were characterizing my occasional very dry, dark sense of humor as pessimism, when it was an effective coping mechanism. I tend to get up pretty quickly when I’ve been knocked down, believing optimistically, like Scarlett O’Hara, that tomorrow’s another day.

So my friends, have a good Monday! Or maybe Tuesday. There’s always Wednesday…

What do you call yourself when no one’s listening?


Filed under Personal, Uncategorized

206 responses to “What You Call Yourself When No One’s Listening

  1. fantastic post!!! take pride in calling yourself a writer. if you write, you are most certainly one! :-)

  2. I’m generally pleased that I call myself my own best cheerleader. And of course I would say that I’m pleased hehe My sense of humor has often been called a coping mechanism. Who cares? It’s better than violence and a myriad of other things! :) I think what we call ourselves regarding a martial artist or writer or garbage man depends on what we feel like when we “martial art” or write or collect garbage. We are what we are, no matter what others think. Great post, totally resonates.

    • I keep hoping to hear from people with awesome self-esteem who call themselves “Super Ninja” or “Party Princess” in their heads! I think a sense of humor is nearly the best coping mechanism there is – fat-free and only slightly addictive!

  3. I am “The Boss.” Yeah, Bruce Springsteen stole that from me. I am “The Captain” and “The General.” I taught Chuck Norris how to do a proper roundhouse kick. Confidence has never been an issue for me. BUT my self-talk is a bitch. She gives me the beat down on a regular basis. It’s the hell fire and brimstone of my childhood clashing with my free will. What damage it did all those years to be called a wretched, wicked, sinner. What did any of us ever do to deserve that? Once I discovered it was a ruse to keep the masses in line and that making decisions for myself was my birthright, I decided to call myself whatever I damn well pleased. Of course, I don’t always answer in honeyed tones. I answer in Honied ones! HA. Great post.

    • Wow. I am in awe, Boss! It’s true, self-talk and self-labeling can really keep us stagnant. It’s a relief to know we can challenge and change it.

      • Changing it is hard work. Anyone who tells you they wake up every morning saying, “I am a boatload of awesome today” is a big fat liar. Calling myself the boss or the captain doesn’t really mean I’m in control of anything other than how I handle the consequences of my actions. But that is a pretty important thing to remember.

  4. A teacher in high school told us that every morning, she looked in the mirror, and said, “You…. are… a goddess!” We thought she was crazy. But now I know she was right, and she was right to do it, and she was right to role-model that. Maybe at 39, I’ll start doing it… finally. Thanks for your post! I enjoy your writing.

  5. Good post! You write; therefore you are a writer! See how easy that is? I don’t pay too much attention to the voices in my head any more. It was a long and arduous journey to get my self-esteem back, but now I’m a pretty awesome person who can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Well, okay, maybe not tall buildings. But I can control how I react to situations, and I can control my attitude, mostly, so life is good. We are what we tell ourselves we are; and how we treat ourselves tells the world how to treat us. So be kind to yourself!

    • Thanks, Ruth. I’m getting there. It took me the longest time to accept ‘wife’, ‘mother’ and soon-to-be ‘unemployed writer’. I’ve learned to combat the negative messaging and when it does come through, I know I need to step back and recharge my inner resources. So glad to hear you’ve found your way, but still, it would be cool if you could leap buildings. Just don’t wear a skirt.

  6. I used to speak to myself in a way I wouldn’t dare speak to my worst enemy – isn’t it funny how you can be kind to everyone but yourself sometimes? Now, I frequently remind myself that I am awesome. Just so I dont forget.

  7. I love this – I see this kind of negative characterization and it makes me wince.

    I was characterized for most of my mistakes growing up, fat, stupid, messy, etc – when in reality I was athletic, creative, imaginative. I was fortunate to have a couple of people in my corner who refused to let me allow the negative talk to stick. As for how I see myself – I’m an Idea Machine. Give me a minute and I can think of something that will work. Solutions are waiting to be found – you just gotta dig for them.

    • I had similar experiences growing up and it took a long time to shake those critical, sometimes cruel messages. It’s still a bit of a fight if I’m down or struggling – they tend to start up again. Once I started exercising my own power, though and gravitating towards people who believed in me, it was amazing how different my perspective was.
      I love hearing that you see yourself as an Idea Machine – that’s wonderful! The world is in need of more ideas and creativity!

  8. Great post! Isn’t it crazy how it is us who is our worst enemy and do more damage to ourselves than anyone else? Positive thinking may sound easy, but it is definitely a struggle. Yet, we must strive to incorporate it for the sake of our self-esteem and self-worth. Congrats on being FP! :)

    • Thanks for the congrats! I keep the bar low – sometimes all that positive talk reminds me of SNL’s Stuart Smalley. I just remind myself that I need to balance out my perspective and remember, as a friend once said to me: “Just because you think it, doesn’t mean it’s true.” Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  9. fantastic post!! i liked it so much … u shud call yourself a good writer if nothing esle :) <3

  10. I am calling you Freshly Pressed ~ congrats, Green Study! ~ Kat

  11. Can’t agree more. I’m learning to shake off these thoughts too. At one end of the spectrum you’re just being pretentious, on the other end you’re crushing your self-esteem!

  12. Enjoyed reading this. It reminds me of a signature a friend had on her emails: attitude is the mind’s paintbrush, it can color any situation. Thanks for sharing.

  13. All so true. Thank you for sharing, I really enjoyed this post. I have to fight myself on this a lot. It’s sad how we tend to take ourselves down more than anyone else can! Congrats on being Freshly Pressed though, well done!

    • Thanks for the congrats! As I mentioned in my post, I find that if I challenge what I think about myself, by seeing if it would be something I’d say to someone else, then I can give myself a hail “knock it off”.

  14. “Your Highness” works for me! :-) Like many of us, I had a ton of nasty labels slapped on me by family and high-school bullies, like “dog”, complete with barking noises echoing down those long hallways every day for years.

    It’s all bullshit — mostly because strong women of any age scare the shit out of everyone, so the default solution is to shut us up/down in whatever way is most effective. Once you realize that, you just start laughing every time they try to remove your power. It’s *their* issue, not ours.

    Have to go polish my crown now…:-)

    Thrilled to see you on FP, missy. Enjoy!!!!

  15. Beneath my name on my business cards are the following words: “Writer, Editor, Amazing Human.”

    Because I figure if I put it down on my card, I have to work harder to be that. The card is there mocking me if I don’t, after all…

  16. Great post, my favorite quote was “failure and mistakes are not what defines a person, but how they react to those errors does.” Keep on writing!

  17. Another GREAT post. This one hit home! I call myself a “professional underachiever” or I HAD potential! This post is so well written. You took something that can be complicated and simplified it and it certainly hit home. I just found your blog (I am new to blogging at the recommendation of my therapist) and like you had a “different” sense of humor. Thank you for being so open for those who seek the same.

    • You’re welcome! Enjoy your blogging experience. I know that it serves so many different purposes for people. For me, it is the joy of writing and meeting so many other people who are doing the same. I wish you well in your journey!

  18. I’m a writer, a student, a dreamer, traveler and a believer of fairy dust and quirkyfreaky idjet, if I say so myself. :D

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed.

  19. I loved this post. I use negative labels with myself all the time, but I would never do it to others. I’m uncoordinated, clumsy, etc. This post was an excellent reminder that I have to stop doing this now, so that my daughter doesn’t hear me doing it and start doing it herself.
    You’re a great writer, by the way!

    • That’s something that really concerned me. I often hear parents, especially women, say denigrating things about themselves in front of their daughters and I want to shriek “Stop – she is going to learn how to self-talk from your example!” There’s another Dr. Seligman book that I really have gleaned some useful thoughts from called The Optimistic Child. I don’t endorse the book wholesale, but I like different perspectives from which to view issues. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  20. I love this written piece. It is so … (Dare I say it?) … honest!

  21. thetalkinghangover

    you yanks are odd. all this self-help/self-definition wierdness. no offense intended i just find it odd how many americans are on the blogs and how many have that “positive outlook” and can-do attitude.

    • We are weird. I’m glad to hear that all the normal people live where you’re at – it must be the NHS and good public transportation. But this is what a culture of self-reliance and focus on the individual breeds – loads of isolated, self-doubting navel-gazers. I chose blogging instead of buying an assault rifle. It’s a preferred tradeoff. I am first generation American, by the way – my family is from England. It doesn’t seem to have helped. Cheers!

      • thetalkinghangover

        ah yes.. i dont think ALL the normal people do but some, we’re hanging on despite the relentless media attempts to make us question everything ever. gun control being what it is on either side of the atlantic you’d think they’d swap the laws. we dont have the option of heading to the nearest “mall” with a rifle so we just drink too much and brawl outside pubs on a friday night. much more cathartic!

        • Unfortunately, in too many brawls outside our bars here, somebody does have a firearm and things end badly. I love martial arts for the controlled brawling aspect and stress relief. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  22. This hit home for me.

    I would never, ever call people what I call myself when I’m disappointed in my actions, weight, etc.

    I’m inspired to attempt an optimistic approach for naming myself things.
    Thank you for sharing.

    • It’s a bit of stretch for me to go from “you’re a misanthropic jerk” to “you’re Miss Mary Sunshine”, so be kind and reasonable in your approach. Somebody mentioned how going too optimistic sounds pretentious and probably won’t make things better. There’s my one piece of unsolicited advice for the day. Sorry about that!

  23. I grew up in a society where taking pride in oneself is VERY frowned upon. I grew up trying to deny that anything I did was worthwhile, and it made me extremely shy. These last couple years I have been working on myself the idea of pride without arrogance and accomplishment without worry. . . . Well, I’ve always been an optimist, but now I’m just so much HAPPIER. This is a great post. Keep rocking!

    • I would never describe myself as an optimist. I can think optimistically, but the word optimist brings to mind someone who would cheerfully be annoying to me. I’m sure you’re not one of those…I think that being able to appreciate your strengths and weaknesses is very different from pride. Pride, to me, is temporary and fleeting whereas acceptance and appreciation of one’s self has a longer shelf life. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience!

  24. If you are a mother you should never feel bad to wear that label, no matter how society rates the position. Based on what i read writer fits you just as well. I might also add reflective and introspective based solely on the tone here. I find myself re-evaluating my labels often. I consider myself a writer, although I have no hard copy of my work to show for my efforts.

    • It wasn’t that I felt bad about the title “mother”, it was that I never imagined I’d get married, much less have children, so it just felt very strange when that all came together. As I suggested in my post, what you do is generally part and parcel of who you are, hard copy or not. Thanks for reading and for your kind comments!

  25. I have found that since becoming a mother my “inner critic” is in full force. Its not like I didn’t talk rudely to myself before my boys were born but I could push the self criticism aside by accomplishing something that I was proud of.
    Now, I feel like my feet are planted with little movement in any direction so those all too honest and cutting voices in my head are loud and sometimes even debilitating. I am learning and have realized that we have many voices in our heads. I am learning to trust my adult voice and find that those critical thoughts come from either a “teenage or small child” place in my head. The more aware of this, the easier it is to see that when I am really critical and nasty with myself I need to take MUCH better care of myself.
    The self-care is so important and when I go for a walk, get time to myself, meditate, I find my inner thoughts are kind. They help me stay calm when I am faced with a meltdown from one of my young boys, I sleep better and I actually like myself.
    Good luck with your journey…great writing and thoughts on this topic. I totally enjoy your sense of humor and perspective!

    • You’re right in pointing out that it’s easier to deal with things when life isn’t going a million miles a minute around you. I think that some of us have to re-parent ourselves, as we are parenting our children. Having a child triggered so many issues for me because I simply felt ill-equipped to be a parent when I was not raised in a balanced home, but I’ve carefully picked my way through things and my child has taught me a lot as well. Wisdom can come from so many places. Thanks for sharing and for your kind comments!

  26. Searching for the Light

    Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

    I call myself many names, most of them come from my childhood are not the ones I want to be called.I am trying to not only to rewind the tape but to record over it. It is an ongoing process and for every step forward I seem to take several backwards. My favourite stop along the way is the one signposted Procrastination, I spend far too much time there.

    • I spend a lot time at that stop as well! Thanks for the congrats. My practice was to counter the “tapes” with “stop!” and then try to re-frame things from a more positive perspective. It took a lot of “Stops!” to make it habit, but that’s the nature of making a change. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  27. I never really thought about what I call myself, when I was a kid a went around saying I was awesome, every day I would make sure everyone knew I was awesome. besides that I would refer to myself with my name, I have always been insecure about my name but I happy with it. thanks for the thought.

  28. Thanks for a great post! I find myself getting caught up in characterizing behaviours when they are positive, and characterizing myself when it’s something negative. I did a successful thing vs. I am successful; I am clumsy vs. I did a clumsy thing. Hadn’t really thought about it too much until your post, so thank you for reminding me :)

    • You’re welcome and thanks for your comment. The point about the different ways we characterize negative or positive experiences is made in the Seligman book I mentioned in the post and you summed it up nicely!

  29. I stumbled upon your blog, and glad I did! What a great post! Thanks for writing and sharing.

  30. Great post! Thanks for sharing :-)

  31. Excellent! Well written and looking at things from the right perspective. Thank you!

  32. When I was a full-time stay-at-home mom I renamed myself our Chief Household Officer. Homemaker, housewife, and whatnot just didn’t cover the enormous responsibility I shouldered everyday, so I made myself the family executive. Then I got divorced. Oh well.

  33. Nice one. I call myself a printer (which is also my job). Those who know me have come to realise I’m “Spanky Pants” (as in “Awww, did my little Spanky Pants have a rough day at work?”). Truth is, I’ve called myself many things when no one’s around, because I change with circumstances. I don’t mean to, but I have. Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed.

    • Hopefully we all change with circumstances – adaptability being key to our survival and all. Thanks for the congrats! Now I’ve got that name “Spanky Pants” stuck in my head. My self-talk may include it in the future. Thanks?

  34. If only I could see myself as I see others – in a constructive, positive, and accepting way no matter what or how it happens. Your post got me thinking! Thank you. :)

  35. Great post! Think positive in order for positive things to happen to you!

    • I tend to go with “luck is when hard work meets preparation”. Positive thinking is great, as long as it’s not delusional, like the writer who thinks positively about a book that they never sit down and write. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  36. I am enough. I am good enough. I am fast enough. I am compassionate enough. I am accurate enough. I am doing enough. I am exercising enough. I AM ENOUGH has freed me from believing what others think and labelling myself with their opinion of me. I AM ENOUGH just the way I am. :) although I need to remind myself often as I am forgetful…..

    • That’s a tough one for me, but I am going to keep it in mind. I’m pretty driven in some ways and that can get in the way of me being okay with myself. Thank you for reading and sharing your “self-talk”! Sounds like you’re on the right track!

  37. You are a fantastic writer! Congrats on FP and great post! I call myself many things throughout the day…usually I end my day by being “exhausted”. But it truly is the behavior that shapes the character. It’s all bout how we react to the situation at hand. Thanks for the reminder! Right now I would call myself “grateful”… grateful for stumbling upon your post and blog.

  38. I had a near-tear-filled conversation with a coworker many years ago about this because she would always insult herself. I finally had to tell her that if someone else said the things to her that she called herself I would beat the crap out of them; and no it is not OK because you are talking about yourself, if anything it’s much worse. I gave her a book called “The Tongue: A Creative Force” about the power of words from a biblical perspective. Good post. I don’t mind labels as long as they are real and positive labels…

  39. ****Writing is…a struggle against SILENCE~Quote from Carlos Fuentes~..You ARE a writer ! An engaging and highly interesting topic. You’ve just gained another fan/follower. Write/vibe on…

    • Great and thank you! I like that quote. Writing is my way of comprehending the world, otherwise all I’ve got in my head is noise. So on the flip side, writing is also a struggle against chaos. It must be getting late – I’m starting to wax philosophical.

  40. “Catching up” Now the good thing about that is I have lots of interesting things I feel called to do. The down side is… well maybe there is no down side. Thanks for the post!

  41. Hello Tuesday, I call myself when no one is listening an optimist. I am an optimist like you. Are you still an optimist today or did that change from Monday?

  42. Reblogged this on feralsteph and commented:
    Stumbled upon this! What do you call yourself when no on’es listening?

  43. We are always our own worst critics. For example, I call myself stupendously awesome when no one’s listening. ;)

  44. Angela Nantongo

    Reblogged this on 0324th NKIMA.

  45. Ahhhh, what a great post! I tell myself I’m funny all the time, and I joke a lot about my self-talk…I seem to just be going in circles with that. Anyway, congrats on the FP! It is well deserved!

    • Thanks for the congrats! I think I’m funny in my audience of one. Now I see my daughter making herself laugh when she plays. It’s a great life skill to have! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  46. I need to go on more trips — three bloggers I follow have been Fresh Pressed in my absence! Congratulations on another for you! And, aside from the Mad Queen, I have been known to refer to myself as a dope, regardless of audience. I think I’m making progress using the Big Eraser on the more harsh self-assessments.

    • I wondered where you were! Glad to hear from you again! I always love seeing your gravatar photo. And I’m glad to hear you’re making use of the Big Eraser to be kinder to yourself. I hope the Big Eraser isn’t some pervy euphemism, although that would be funny and surely a boost to anyone’s self-esteem.

  47. Why must people take dark sense of humor as pessimism? It’s the best kind of humor.

    • I agree! Although even I have to admit, you have to be skilled in knowing the when, where, how and who before sharing it. I’m not skilled, but it’s starting to be a pleasure to be in those awkward moments. Now I’m a pessimist with a streak of masochism!

  48. Reblogged this on nic1sweet2012's Blog and commented:
    Wow, I really enjoyed reading that and your optimism spurred me on :)
    Until recently, I would have called myself a non maternal baby hating monster! I hate to admit that but as my friends got married, gave up their careers and settled down to their ideals of family life. I was content to follow my career as a Nursing Sister, living a seamlessly perfect life with my adoring husband until bang, when I was 32 (I’m now 36) I was diagnosed with hypopituitarism. A condition which over time I’ve learned to live with and manage but I vividly remember the exact date and day the Consultant sat my husband and I down and explained that conceiving naturally was impossible and even with fertility treatment the chances weren’t good. My heart sank! All those times I had looked at mothers popping their breasts out to feed their babies in public with disgust and grunt when they always seemed to get first entry in to the lifts, closer car park spaces etc etc, the list goes on. I felt the most sickening feelings of guilt, remorse and also jealousy that I would possibly never experience that.
    However, I recently learned never say never because on the 7th of September 2011 I gave
    birth to a beautiful baby boy conceived completely naturally and I am now proud to call myself a very happy and contented Mother :)
    He has made my life complete and all those dull material things I previously enjoyed bring me no pleasure in comparison to seeing his new smile every day!

    • Congratulations on your now 1 year old! I have mixed feelings about motherhood. It has become something of mythical and cultish ideal that either aggravates people who don’t want to have children or taunts people who desperately do. I am happy to be a mother and I adore my daughter, but I am also happy that I am a lot of other things and that she, too, will grow up be a lot of other things, with or without motherhood. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience!

  49. I’m not a fan of labels. We need them to talk and think about things, but once you start labeling things, it’s really hard to avoid confusing the map for the territory. And there’s a tendency to spend time worrying over boundaries…

    Consider “athlete.” My ex-wife, a bit of a jock, was dismayed at the idea that skydivers are “athletes.” Understandably so; many are heavy smokers and have no cardiovascular or strength conditioning to speak of. Yet they engage in an extreme sport… so are they athletes? How do baseball players compare to boxers or mountain climbers or various x-sports? Depends on how you care to define “athlete,” where you draw the boundaries. But, really, whether you can label them one way or not, it doesn’t change what they do, it doesn’t change them.

    The danger is getting stuck asking yourself if you stand enough far enough inside the many boundaries for a label that you can comfortably label yourself without others laughing. “Am I really an ‘athlete’?” That’s just a door to self-doubt and over what, a label? (In some ways it’s better outside the label. “No, I’m not an athlete; I just like sports stuff!”)

    That’s just me; I’m not trying to proselytize. May come from my fiercely anti-mainstream leanings… don’ wanna go places that even have labels!

    • I understand what you are saying, but as I mentioned, it does seem to be human nature to want to label things. I am reminded of Douglas Adams’ Hitchkikers’ Guide to the Galaxy. A whale suddenly pops into existence due to a ship’s “improbability” drive. In the short time before the whale crashes fatally to the ground, it has a short existential conversation in which it begins to name things, the last of which, of course, is “ground”.
      Labels can be limiting, but if we’re going to use them anyway, we should at least have them be uplifting, not demoralizing. And of course, your point, one that Shakespeare would endorse (a Rose by any other name), is that no matter what we call ourselves, we are what we do.

      • Heh, that whale is one of my favorite parts of those books! (“I wonder if it will be friendly with me?”) Also the bowl of petunias! (“Oh, no! Not again!!”)

        I totally agree that labeling is very human. (Heck, it’s a key part of what humans do, and it’s even in the first part of the bible–naming all the things.) And (as I mentioned) it’s necessary for talking about things. What I was trying to express is the danger of mistaking the map for the territory, plus the stress of deciding if things fit the label or not.

        Labels are hugely important, but I think it’s equally important to keep in mind they are just tools, “handles” on the objects in our world. (And they can be misleading to the point of being lies.)

        We do certainly agree on the power of labels to demoralize!!

  50. I would like to call myself many different things when no one is listening, a father to 2 dogs, a hard worker when my work goes unnoticed, a great friend when taken for granted and a respectable gentleman when I am single.

    • The wonderful thing about dogs is that the only thing they do call you is “friend” – even on days when you figuratively and literally feel like a “pooper scooper”. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  51. Good post thank you! Humour is the best coping mechanism i know … oh and yes I too still struggle saying ‘I’m a writer’ … Am I? Really? :) :) :)

    • I find “writer” to be a tough one. I think writers, especially beginners or unpublished ones, struggle with that. When I began, I was just testing the waters and now that I spend so much time actually writing, I know I feel like a writer. So, to answer your question – yes, you are!

  52. Brilliant post, people are so many things, sister, daughter, girlfriend, linguist, salesperson… At the moment my most common is Bitchy Bitch – we are all so stressed in so many places, home, work, shops, the pub… That nobody seems to want to get on anymore, just all looking out for oneself rather than each other. I have my Birtchy Bitch moments, like “why is my safety less important that yours” as I refuse to step into the road when people will not move out of the way. “Just because you’ve got a bigger car than me does not mean you can intimidate me, take this! (massive horn blow as you speed past)” – – A good reflective post – maybe I need to chill out!

    • You make a good point. I think we all probably need to “chill” out, so lost in meeting our own needs and protecting ourselves, that we often tromp all over others. On top of that, you’re right – this self-protection doesn’t seem to make us any happier. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

  53. Pingback: Freshly Pressed…Thanks from The Green Study | The Green Study

  54. Congrats on FP! Great post. It’s a struggle for me, but I’m trying.

  55. Terrific post! It is so easy to label ourselves negatively. I especially enjoyed the paragraph about the cliche from the parenting book. I remember reading that lesson years ago and it has stuck with me — and probably helped me as a parent and a person.

    I could also relate to your revelation about your dry, dark sense of humor. Though most people don’t understand it, this is also one of my most effective coping mechanisms. I am 36 years old and struggling with what living with a Stage 3C cancer diagnosis means for my kids — and for me & my lifespan. I joke about my illness and my mortality often. It’s not because I believe there is anything amusing about dying young, but because I am scared and cracking jokes makes me appear — and even feel! — more optimistic and hopeful. It helps me put up a good front!

    Thought-provoking and well-written post! Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed — you deserve it!

    • You have written such an upbeat comment and I’m not sure how to respond. I read posts from your website this morning and wow, I’m still blubbering a bit. In your situation, I’d be dark as hell, humor-wise – I hope you have people in your life who “get you” and know it’s okay to laugh when you make jokes like that. I’ve made jokes about death and the wrong kind of friends suddenly want me to call a crisis line. I hope you swear a lot, too, because if there is any time for good profanity, it would be when fighting cancer. Some people might characterize that as negative, but that provides a lot of stress relief for me.
      Thanks for reading and commenting. Fight on, my friend – you deserve that!

      • Wow, you made my day!! Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I thought about your post when I was drinking contrast in a hospital chair, waiting for my CT scan today. As the nurses were trying to stick a needle in my chest to access my port, I was busy trying to make them laugh about my situation, but no one seemed to think it was very funny!

        Yes, I am grateful to have a few choice friends who “get me” and my sometimes morbid sense of humor. I chuckled when I read your line about friends who want you to call a crisis line in response to some of your jokes — I’ve heard the, “Oh no, you can’t give up yet!” a number of times from some when I make a joke…Or, on the other side of the coin there’s my husband who’s like, “Great! I’ve already got a pine box picked out for you over here!…Oh, crap, you weren’t serious?!?”

        And thank you for the license to swear. I hold back a lot, but I’ve never felt the urge to swear like I do now! I find myself asking, “WTF?” in my head A LOT! Or saying “f-ing cancer” or “f-ing chemo” or “f-ing washing machine,” etc. aloud. I honestly didn’t give my new-found urge to utter profanities a thought until I read your comment! But you have put it into perspective & it makes sense — it is a stress reliever! I will interpret your comment as permission to use “bad words” and not feel so guilty about doing this because, until today, it was just one more thing to feel guilty about — and just more ammunition for the less-than-kind labels I tend to give myself! :-)

        Thanks so much for your lovely comment — and for taking the time to visit my blog, especially when you have so much going on over here! Congratulations, again! I am looking forward to following along!
        Warmest thoughts…

  56. What a great point. People are so hard on themselves for no good reason. Congrats on FP! https://mccrackenlove.wordpress.com/

  57. Ahhh turf toe…that sucks. Glad to hear you have recovered! I stuggled with this issue (and still do some time). It is sad how we can be our own worst emeny. I learned to just ground myself and that helped. I spent time in prayer and read God’s word and I found that I’m not worthless, I;m worth dying for (which is pretty cool) This post was really great though, congrats on being Freshly Pressed.

    • Whatever your belief system, slowing down and being meditative and mindful is, I think, a requirement to get beyond negative characterization of one’s self. Thanks for your kind words and for taking the time to read and comment!

  58. robinbeverly

    I’ve gotten to the point where I will admit that I’m a writer if I’m pressed just like I’d admit to having gas. It is what it is. Sometimes I’m less embarrassed about it than other times. If I’m afraid that people will think less of me, I’ll just say that I’m under employed as a church secretary and they feel sorry for me. The sooner you out yourself the better. Let them snigger and point, but come clean. I’m sorry to hear about your dilemma and the turf toe. If you get worried about the social ramification you could always just tell people at that. It seems much more savory than saying the other thing…May God help us all!

    • I let my gas speak for itself, but I’m getting much more comfortable calling myself a writer and better yet, thinking of myself as a writer. It’s what I wanted to be when I grew up and at 45, it’s probably about time! Think of yourself as a superhero – mild-mannered church secretary by day(it’s the perfect disguise!), madwoman writer by night. No phone booth or costume required. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  59. robinbeverly

    By the way, I really enjoy your writing!

  60. Humility is the key , but am endowed really

  61. Raquel D

    Just discovered your blog on freshly pressed (congrats!). Really interesting post and very well written. Its so easy to compartmentalize with the negative, but not with the positive – that is definitely a habit I need to break. Thanks for the enlightening post! :)

    • Thanks for stopping by and commenting – you’re exactly right about the differences of how we can see positives and negatives, sometimes without even realizing it. I still struggle with it – it’s easy to write a post about positive self-talk, much harder to live it!

  62. Pingback: What do you call yourself when no one’s listening? « get busy living

  63. I’m showing this to my husband tonight. A perfect read for him. Well written.

  64. What we call ourselves, what we say about ourselves, when no one is is listening in uber important to how we end up creating our lives. I teach this day in and day out to clients.

    • Absolutely. I mentioned this to another commenter, but one of my friends reminded me of this gem: “Just because we think it, doesn’t mean it’s true”. It’s a great reminder that not just perception, but self-perception should be challenged with “Is this really true or do I just think it is?” I just read your fantastic post on helping – well-written, authentic and so interesting to think about. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  65. I got to hand it to you, this post was a real hit. I’ve had problems dealing with self labeling like this too, I’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression as of recently and sometimes it’s really hard not to take some things out on myself. Nowadays I tell myself- you know, you may not be perfect, and you’re not a snowflake… but your imperfections are what everyone else says are perfect about you. I’m glad that you found a good way to deal with it though- I hope you have a good day!

    • Having come from a family of diagnosed and undiagnosed depression, I think in addition to any medication that might be needed, you can also give yourself permission to say “Hey, I can ride myself about all this negative crap any time I want. For right now, for today, I’m going to let myself just be okay.” Undoing patterns of thinking can be overwhelming and too much when you’re just trying to keep yourself standing. Sometimes even positive things can seem like too much to do, so I lower my expectations to “just being okay” and it’s enough. Good luck on your journey and thanks for sharing your experience.

      • Thank you, I haven’t started medication yet, but I’m going to this weekend- My family and doctors have been helping me self medicate through exercise and thought processes like those. Most of the time I am just being okay, and I hope to enjoy that more often then not. Thank you for the luck as well ^_^

  66. Hi – congrats on another well-deserved Fresh Pressing!
    I remember the day I first noticed the voice in my head. I had just said to myself, “I am doing the best I can.” And a voice answered, “Your best just isn’t good enough.”
    Excuse me?? Who the heck was that??
    Since then, I’ve learned to recognize and respond to the negative self-talk, and one of my favorite lines to myself is, “You are enough, and your best is always good enough!”
    Thanks for the post. I can also empathize with the weirdness around being called a writer. When, exactly, will I own that label for myself?

    • “Enough” is a great word, not just for self-talk, but with dealing in so many areas of our lives: Are we enough? Do we have enough? Did we buy/eat enough? Are we kind enough? So often we need to give ourselves a resounding “yes!” I really enjoyed your cat post – they can be little terrors!
      P.S. – You’re a writer.

      • Yes, yes, and yes! I think this is a voice so many of us have. It makes people go looking for “enoughness” in unhealthy places and results in shame that we aren’t perfect. It’s also not helpful that I used to believe I needed to be enough for the whole world’s needs, not just my own!
        Thanks for the P.S. – I know that *you* know, how much that means. Back at ya.

      • P.S. – thanks, also, for following my blog!

  67. I like to refer to myself as a bit of a contrarian. It sounds so much better than “wrong about everything”. :) Great post.

  68. Mmm…next time I want to call myself an eedjit, I will think twice! You are absolutely right, it is so much easier to blast yourself than someone else you love! I find the easiest way for me to deal with my own stupidity and failures are to laugh at myself, or share it with someone else and laugh together! Congrats of being FP’ed!

    • As you will see from my blog, sharing my own stupidity and failures seems to be an art form. It’s certainly a great way to diffuse any negative hold it might have on me! Thanks for the congrats and for commenting!

  69. Blueyed_mama79

    Very good post…I’m gonna check out the link you put up later on and see if it can help me out as well.

    • Thanks – I’m assuming you’re talking about the Seligman book. I always hesitate to refer or endorse books or sources of information, since I rarely agree with everything in it, but it’s one of those books that really made me think about and re-evaluate some of my habits of thinking. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      • Blueyed_mama79

        Yeah I was talking about the book. I need to totally redo my way of thinking as well…and personally anything can help from a blog to a book to some kind words from friends or even strangers…

        I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog and I wish you nothing but best of luck in whatever you choose to do :)

  70. This is so important! Thanks for posting it. What we say to ourselves in the quiet of our own minds determines our lives. Here’s to being our own best friend and biggest cheerleader. :) Have a great day!

    • Thanks, you too. Much like one does on a blog, I like to think of it as being one’s own best “moderator” in terms of making sure we’re not telling ourselves wacky, untrue things that don’t lift us up. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  71. Reblogged this on Becca's Basic Blog and commented:
    Athlete or writer?

  72. I think everyone has the same experiences. Growing up you’re told to see yourself in a positive way but when society is tearing you apart you can’t help but see the negative aspects of yourself.

    Once you grow up, you realize the good within outweighs the bad. It’s just the fact that we’re all different and unique.

    Good Post!

    • I actually had the opposite experience growing up, so I had to work to re-write the negative messages I received so that I could see myself more positively and be able to move forward. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  73. Great post! What do I call myself, mostly mom and wife but I am learning to call myself Deshell and looking into more of what she likes to do that doesn’t relate to my two prominent titles.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting! I think it’s really important to have a wide range of interests, hobbies and skills beyond roles that will not always fill our time and efforts. And it’s just great for the brain as we age to keep learning and challenging ourselves. Good for you – enjoy the journey of self-discovery!

  74. Reblogged this on hickeyjared and commented:
    I just had to share this! A big turning point in my life was when I stopped punishing myself (enough people will try to punish you anyways, why help?), but this puts it in a way I definitely couldn’t

  75. Oh my goodness I love this post. You write so well and so honestly.
    Thank you for following my blog. I hope you enjoy my travel (inner and outer) ramblings.

    • I briefly read through some of your posts – wow! I love reading about the world through other people’s eyes and I love the idea of so many adventures ahead regardless of age. Thank you!

      • Thank you. We’ve only just started really. It’s better travelling when you’re older. At least I find it so – I’m so much more aware than I used to be, and more honestly moved, by people and places.
        I look forward to more of your blog.

  76. I find what you say and how you say it salient, useful and sticky. A rare and valuable combination. As a recovering expert in shit magnetism I particularly appreciate this post. Thank you!

  77. My son had turf toe…from falling out of a hammock. And I am a “shit magnet.” Oh Lawd, I’m depressed now. Guess I need to get that book!!!!!

  78. Pingback: My Year in Blogging: Happy Anniversary, Baby! | The Green Study

  79. Pingback: On My Reading Desk This Week (02/17/13 – 02/23/13) | Word Vomit

  80. I need to practice this more. I procrastinate too much and then forget to practice such excellent ideas at all. I’ll get started on this tomorrow. Oh wait! There I go. Seriously, this is great advice. Thanks for sharing.

  81. I like to call myself Ermintrude Matilda Berthilda Blunderbuss the Cantankerous of the Wilderness in the North.
    But I really like to think I’m quite a positive person, when not clouded by other cloudy things and rubbish.

  82. “Kids must learn that failure and mistakes are not what defines a person, but how they react to those errors does.”
    Great post! Thanks for sharing and Keep optimistic!:)

  83. Pingback: The Dog Days of Blogging | The Green Study

  84. Pingback: Freshly Pressed…Shameless Vulgarity and Ingratitude | The Green Study

  85. What we want to be called and what we are called differs every day. I consider myself a writer because I do write. Many times we have to simply be satisfied with what and who we think we are.

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