I’ve been talking to myself all day today — literally.
As in talking out loud to myself (in environments where I’m by myself, at any rate). Sometimes I’ve even been raising my voice to ensure that I’m heard over the irritating, nonstop blurts of the ever-present inner critic inside of me.
What have I been saying to myself? Words and phrases that would probably be referred to as affirmations. Primarily two sentences:
- I’m a writer. I’m a writer. I’m a writer. I’m a writer. I’m a writer.
- What I write matters. What I write matters. What I write matters. What I write matters. What I write matters.
I spent much of yesterday doing the same thing as today, covering not only my identity as a writer but also my role as a parent:
- I’m a good parent. I’m a good parent. I’m a good parent. I’m a good parent. I’m a good parent.
I’ve been aware of the concept of affirmations for years. But I’ve never actually tried them, out loud like you’re supposed to, until about 30 hours ago — at the backhanded suggestion of my lovely wife, Adrianne, who in truth suggested that I write them down on sticky notes and put them all over the house. I figured I might as well just go ahead and say them aloud instead, since research has shown that verbal affirmations actually work — that they make you feel better about yourself and thus live and perform with more confidence.
I can tell you the results of my experiment so far: Affirmations do indeed seem to work. I do feel better, and I do feel more confident now than I did even this morning.
Moreover, I’ve been inspired to write this very blog post. And another one began cooking too as I ran on the treadmill at the YMCA, trying my best to whisper my verbal affirmations loudly enough to be effective, yet softly enough so the people around me wouldn’t think I’m a wingnut.
I always thought I shied away from affirmations because they’d make me feel silly. To some degree that’s true. But in the locker room just now, standing next to a naked guy who was on his cell phone talking very seriously to someone about “operational costs” (speaking of silly … or wingnuts), it occurred to me that the real reason I have shied away from affirmations has more to do with my introversion than anything else — more specifically, my sometimes misguided beliefs about how I as an introvert should think and behave.
We introverts are so inner-focused by nature that we sometimes figure we have to solve every problem on our own, and in silence. I am guilty of this behavior frequently, albeit subconsciously. My dear Adrianne has told me that, at times, it looks to her as though I’m trying to uphold some kind of warped “introvert code” which says that I always have to go it alone, that I cannot reach out for help or even talk about what’s bothering me. That I’m supposed to keep it all inside because, well, that’s what introverts do. Or, more accurately, that’s what introverts are supposed to do. It’s the introvert brand.
I have to stop. And if you’re an introvert who does the same kind of thing from time to time, you need to stop too.
I will always be, and appreciate, who I am. Being an introvert is part of that. But being an introvert doesn’t mean always keeping my thoughts and emotions inside, or always feeling like I have to. I’m human. You’re human. We all need help. And we all need to sometimes hear an audible voice of encouragement and understanding, whether its our own or someone else’s.
There is no “introvert code.” And therefore there is no “introvert code” to uphold.
Yes, the inner voice I have as an introvert can and often does work to my great benefit, helping me come up with ideas and solutions seemingly out of nowhere. No wonder I gravitate toward it and embrace it.
But when it is instead working against me, in whatever way, well, then it’s time for me to talk. Out loud.
To someone else.