Things to say, that is!
So. I know you want to hear more about Priscilla. And you want to hear more about self care.
You know how I know? Because I asked and you told me!
What? You didn’t say that? You don’t want to hear about Priscilla and self care? Well, too bad. You don’t ask, you don’t get. At least my dad told me that once and it’s held true pretty well.
If you ever want to hear more about something, say something. If you see something, say some…no?
Whatever. You get the idea.
Priscilla. Self care. Here we go.
We’re about to get to know Priscilla a bit better: the obnoxious roommate who lives in my head and tells me terrible things about myself (as described by Ariana Huffington in her book Thrive). Aka my lizard brain (Seth Godin, discovered by LRM in Linchpin. Or check out his blog). Priscilla says all kinds of horrible awful things about me, but she’s really only trying to protect me from tigers.
This is a critical part of self care. You know how I know? If you wanted to spend your whole life working a job you’re totally apathetic about, doing just enough to not get fired, going home and watching TV until it’s time to go to sleep, waking up and doing it again the next day, and never having any adventures and never trying to make the world a better place, you wouldn’t be too into me and my thoughts, AND you wouldn’t be curious enough to read this blog. Trust me, I’ve lived with me a long time.
Besides, you go out and find me a person who WANTS to be bored out of their mind all the time. Find someone who actually wants it. I bet their lizard brain just won out and it’s not what they really want.
So, about that local sports team…wait, no. Priscilla. We’re talking about Priscilla and self care.
Now that I know she’s there, how do I deal with her? Or even better, how do I use her powers for good? She’s actually quite helpful. Just not her services of tiger-avoidance. Definitely not helpful.
One of the best things I ever did to harness her powers for good and not crippling anxiety was to write down what Priscilla says to me the most often. Ok, probably the best thing I did in that department was to name her. I feel much less like I’m crazy and talking to myself if I address her properly. Hush, talking to the voices in my head doesn’t make me crazy. You have them too!
Sometimes I call her Prissy for short but that seems mean so usually it’s just “Ok, thanks Priscilla. You can be done now.”
But things she says the most often. Let’s see if I can find that list.
Yeah, sure. I already know what she says. She tells me every day. But writing it down was very powerful. If I let her live in my head or try to ignore her, she’s louder. She takes over. But if I put it on paper and talk her down, she kind of…stops. Tiger crisis averted. Sometimes I just call her out and don’t have to talk her down at all.
Ok, thanks, Priscilla. There’s no tigers, you can stop. Job complete. Safe from tigers.
Check. You can go take a nap or something.
Here we go. Found it in my little black book of everything. I read a book by James Altucher (will tell you more later probably since he is a character) and he says to list my excuses. I’m pretty clever sometimes and so I figured out that my excuses were really just Priscilla trying to keep the tigers away.
Alright Priscilla, we’re gonna put your regular material out here in the open. It’s not quite stand up comedy but maybe we can try.
Things Priscilla says on the regular (her favorite excuses):
- Someone else is already doing it better so you might as well just give up now because you will never be as good as them or even close.
- It’s too hard and it’s not worth trying.
- You don’t have time. Like seriously there are not enough hours in the day and we’re going to panic just thinking about adding on one more thing. Definitely not enough time.
- People don’t want you around. They don’t want to hear what you have to say, they’re just putting up with you being there, and everyone will be happier if you just leave. Ok, on a good day they just won’t notice you’re not there at all.
- You’re not good enough. At all. Period. It’s an inherent quality, not a skill. It’s not a moral judgement, you can’t repent. There’s nothing to learn or forgive, you just are that way. You, as an individual, just are not good enough. No hope of redemption. Give up now.
- People will think you’re bad at [insert activity here] and not respect you, or make fun of you or, worst of all, just not pay any attention at all and you’ll have done all this work for nothing. For no one! What’s that you say? A hobby? That you do for fun and just for yourself? No, no one does that. Don’t be ridiculous. No no. You hate feeling like people aren’t paying attention when you’re trying to talk to them. You hate it! You hate not feeling listened to. Why would you do this just for yourself, or just for the five people you know really need to hear it? Just go home. No one will miss you.
- But you REALLY need to check your email. And check your bank balance. Repeatedly. And make a to do list two miles long and do nothing on it BUT (and this is important) you do need to panic about it for several hours until you have something on your schedule that you actually have to go to. Well, unless you leave late, then you will also be late to that thing, have spent several hours panicking, AND have a two mile long to do list that is completely incomplete. Because you’re bad at everything anyway. Oh well. Check that useless email! Check your bank balance five times! Speaking of that to do list…
- You reaaaaaaally need to make a to do list that is like 5 billion items long and you will never remember all of the things you need to do anyway even though they should have gotten done weeks ago, because you never remember anything. So they won’t get written down and then you won’t do them and the world will end and…wait. What do you mean you only have 15 things to do and none of them are urgent? Clearly you forgot the other 6 billion that needed to happen yesterday and the week before. No, no, I miscounted the first time. Definitely 6 billion, not 5 billion. Commence panic for two hours! Minimum two hours! Overachievers do this for weeks! I know you’re an overachiever.
- You have way too much debt to do that. It would be way too irresponsible to spend your money on THAT when you have so much debt. Also insert here: crippling fear associated with being five figures in debt. (I started at $52,000. I’m down to around $29,000) It’s not getting smaller and what if you have to pay it ALL OFF RIGHT NOW ALL OF IT! What’s that you say? Monthly installments make it affordable? Nah. Back to the original plan. Panic!
- You have to do [insert random maybe useful activity] before you can do the first thing on your to do list that we made earlier. Oh, and then you just won’t get that done either so you won’t do the thing on your to do list AND you won’t do the random thing I just made up! Complete failure. Living example. Look at you go!
- You don’t have enough money. Just forget it. You can’t do that without money. What’s that you say? Craigslist? No no no, you can’t have it without spending way more money than you should. It’s impossible! What do you mean the plane ticket is only $158? No no, it will definitely cost $2000. And then you’ll spend it on that and you won’t get enough to eat and you are not a nice person when you don’t eat properly which btw you’re terrible at feeding yourself so…yeah. Just don’t buy that. We compromised and now you can buy food but don’t buy that other thing you really could use because you definitely don’t have enough money.
- You don’t like people who do the thing you want to do. You don’t respect them. You don’t have anything in common with them like values or activities or…anything. If you do that thing then you have to spend time with people you don’t like or respect or have anything in common with and they won’t understand you and you HATE it when people don’t understand you! Besides, you’re terrible at the activity you’re thinking of and the people who do it won’t like you anyway.
Right there in the open.
That list might seem harsh, but it’s actually, as I mentioned before, quite useful.
How is it useful?
- Writing them down helps get them out of my head. When they are in the open I know that those are just excuses. I don’t have to let them stop me.
- Now when I hear these things coming out of my head, usually associated with a vague sense of panic, I know that it’s Priscilla. I can pretty much ignore it. No, I lied. I don’t ignore it. Because
- Priscilla is possibly the most accurate compass I’ve ever met. Her freaking is the best indicator that I’m going in the right direction. Almost every single person whose writing has changed my life – Ariana Huffington, Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, Martha Beck – writes about using that voice to guide you. If something matters to me, Priscilla will…freak. the. hell. out.
- Thinking about applying for that promotion you’ve said you wanted since you started with the company? There goes Priscilla.
- Making a toast at my brother’s wedding? Jello wreck of second-guessing, crippling doubt for days.
- Thinking about quitting that job you hate? Man, I sure don’t have enough money for that…except my brother helped me calculate out how much money I should save up for six months not working and she magically got very quiet. Pro tip: he also told her to calm down.
A note about 3 – it’s a fine line between freaking out because you’re about to do something important to you and freaking out over real danger. Think job interview for a company you’ve dreamed about vs. landslide with possible death.
Job interview probably won’t kill you. Actually, you’ll be over the moon if you get the job. Run towards it.
You probably don’t want to get stuck in a landslide with possible death. Run away.
Want to join me?
I invite you to name your lizard brain. What will you call your Priscilla?
Make a list of your Priscilla’s excuses. You’re welcome to comment here with your list or send it to me. I’d like to read them.
Thanks for reading, friends! Until next week.