What we tell ourselves is our own persuasion.
It’s the stuff we repeat over and over in the dark, lying in bed, making the decision that tomorrow will be different.
Sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn’t.
I’m at the point where I have to admit that telling myself over and over “I don’t have time to write” or “I don’t have time to work out” is just the way I convince myself that those statements are true. It’s not that the things we tell ourselves are not factual, because in truth my time is pretty limited by my day job and sleep and eating and, you know, life. However, taking that truth and twisting it into “I don’t have time…” is the act of persuading myself to give up, stop trying, just sleep in.
I want to tell myself other truths — “Time is tight, but I can fit in a 20 minute workout” — but it becomes something like a courtroom battle in my head:
“Let the record show that the defense does have time to work out in the mornings.”
“I object to the prosecution’s attempt to suggest that my client isn’t already giving life 110% of her efforts!”
It’s a double-edged sword, then. I’m so habituated to the negative persuasion, that the positive messages have to fight to be considered. There is a reason that the metaphors here are all about “fighting ourselves” and “my brain is out to kill me” and “I keep telling myself this but I don’t seem to listen.” We are talking to ourselves, persuading ourselves to believe something that, while factual, may or may not be true.
The messages need to change:
- I DO have time to work out in the mornings.
- I DO have time to write every day.
- I DO have time to get everything done and still go to bed by ten p.m.
There is no secret here; no wild, wishful thinking. It’s all about persuasion.