Tag Archives: Writer Wednesdays

Your Brain on Doubt & What to Do About It #MFRWAuthor #Inspiration

flat-tire-image“I’ve watched you grow smaller,” an observant friend once said to me. “as if you are deflating.”

I was stuck in a period of deep doubt about almost everything. I didn’t know what to do with my life or my work or me. “I’m between things,” I’d say to anyone who appeared to care. Actually, I wasn’t anywhere. My friend was right. I’d deflated and needed desperately to pump up again.

Unfortunately, a deflated spirit lacks not only air to breathe but the will and stamina to refill its lungs in the first place. Doubt had taken those good things from me. I was a flat tire. More to the point, my brain was a flat tire, and flat tires don’t get us anywhere.

We all end up in the hardly-moving lane now and then, and doubt is often the vehicle that takes us there. Especially doubt about ourselves. Doubting seems to be an inevitable consequence of living. The trouble is it can zap the will to live, and the joy of that life, flat out of us.

I’m re-inflated at the moment. The last thing I want is another blowout, or even a slow leak into a bad-year tire again. How did I get from flaccid to full-up? What can I do next time I misplace my air lock valve? Here are five specific remedies for my self-doubt days and yours.

Specific #1. Get out from under the comforter. My comforter is blue, the color of melancholy. I hide there and bring other comforts with me – unhealthy food, binge TV and the occasional bourbon coke with a splash of lime. I must drag my bemoaning behind from under all of that.

Specific #2. Cut the to-do list to size. Nothing lengthens a ride in the doubt mobile as fast as piled-on expectations. What needs to be done feels like being expected to prepare a holiday feast by suppertime. How about toast instead? I think I can manage a slice, maybe even multi-grain.

Specific #3. Create a feel-good list instead. What makes me feel better? What ACTivities? I must stand up, get dressed and move. Yoga on the purple mat I bought myself last Christmas. Or a walk around a block or two without my comforter, like Linus’s blanket, trailing behind.

Progress Report. I’m out of the bedroom (#1). I’ve been to the kitchen where I consumed some multi-grain nutrition (#2) and came up with a feel-better action plan (#3). Time to suit up, but first a stop in front of the bathroom sink.

Specific #4. Stare straight ahead. What do I see? I see the hero in my mirror. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t already survived many comforter-craving moments. I chose the choices and did the work that got me to this place, which makes me the hero of my own life story.

Specific #5. Produce a memory of the hero in the mirror. Deep breathing in a yoga pose or puffing down the street, I recall a time I lifted myself toward where I needed to be. I watch, hear and, most important, feel the moment. “I did that,” I say, because I did. No doubt about it.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and Alice Orr’s other books are available from Amazon HEREA Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK there also.

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Got Stress? Grab a Post It. @AliceOrrBooks #WednesdayMotivation #WritersLife

stress-imageI encounter a lot of exhausted people these days. Once upon a time, I prided myself on not being among them but, as we all know, pride is what we exhibit before a fall. That fall did inevitably happen to me, and since then I’ve learned to admit my Energy Bunny is sometimes a lop-eared, droop-tailed mess.

“What’s the matter with me?” I used to ask, while my stamina trickled away. “You’re not as young as you used to be,” my husband would often respond. This, of course, is hardly the smart thing for a man to say to his wife. If you run into him, feel free to mention that. The fact is, I didn’t feel old. I felt tired, but I didn’t know why.

When well-meaning folks suggested my condition was stress-related, my eyes would roll. “Stress schmess,” I’d say to my pompous-ass self. Until the scales were ripped from my bloodshot eyes and I was forced to recognize stress as a buzz killer on several levels, pressing a dead weight on the psyche and the rest of our faculties too.

This revelation occurred during my maximum (to date) stress experience, the struggle with my now long-gone (I hope) cancer. Let me tell you a small story about that period and one of its many disturbing manifestations of stress. Bouts of spontaneous weeping which, for some reason, often occurred in parking lots.

We were living on Vashon Island in Washington State, a generally peaceful place. I suffered tearful breakdowns in just about every parking area of that tranquil town. In front of the Thriftway supermarket. Next to the library. Outside church. In the gravel space south of the arts center after dropping my granddaughter off for ballet class.

Without warning, I’d begin to sob, though inaudibly. My shoulders might tremble, but other than that and my wet cheeks, you could have walked straight past me and not noticed a thing. “Get a grip,” I’d whisper. “You’re weeping in the Thriftway parking lot.” Meanwhile, my fingers did my bidding and gripped the steering wheel in a stranglehold.

Thus attached to my automobile, I would drive slowly home, reminded of a phrase in the Washington State Drivers’ Manual that cautions against operating a vehicle when emotionally upset. Unfortunately, I wasn’t comfortable with calling someone up to say, “I just fell to pieces in the parking lot. Could you please rescue me?”

I’ve held myself back from writing here about this phase of my history. “Why should anybody be subjected to my whining?” I asked. Until I recalled Vanessa Redgrave, a personal icon of mine, speaking of a realization she had while acting in “The Year of Magical Thinking,” a play adapted from Joan Didion’s marvelous memoir.

“We’re all more traumatized than we think,” Vanessa said. By that measure, my parking lot story is appropriate to share because it could be someone else’s story, too. The specifics may vary. A shadowy corner rather than a parking lot. Dulled-out staring into space instead of weeping. The essence of the episode is the same.

Which means I need to come up with an insight, as posts like this one are supposed to do. Whining will not suffice. I must suggest an approach to the problem, an antidote to the syndrome. I suggest Post-It notes. Here’s what I did with them, or what they did for me, during the most stressed-out and exhausted days of my cancer challenge.

Each morning, on a single two-by-two-inch sticky note, I’d write down something specific I could do that day to feel less undone by my situation. A larger surface would have been unrealistic. In my opinion, four square inches of healing at a time is enough to expect of oneself when traumatized.

Some days I did what I had written down, some days not. Still, I persisted, and my psyche was the better for it. If you suspect that we, yourself included, may all be more shaken up by life than we care to admit, you might want to acquire some sticky notes of your own. They come in cheerful colors these days, even day-glow. Cheerful is good.

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and Alice Orr’s other books are available from Amazon HERE. A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK there.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

 http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/

http://facebook.com/aliceorrwriter/

http://twitter.com/AliceOrrBooks/

http://goodreads.com/aliceorr/

http://pinterest.com/aliceorrwriter/