Ask Alison: How Have You Navigated Negative Feelings of Self-Worth?
INF / Network member, mentor and Offline, The Podcast host, Alison Rice, is answering your most pressing life, self, spirituality and career questions in an evolution of her original column, now called #AskAlison. Each month we put a call out for questions on Instagram, so if you’re in need of some gentle guidance or advice, DM @alisonlarsenrice. From both of us to you: We see you, we hear you, we are you, and we hope we can help.
Most days, I think about the magical and directional ways in which The Universe (TU) works. In this evolved column, I’ll talk about TU a lot. As I write this, I reflect in awe that this reader question was chosen as the first for me to answer during a week I felt emotionally exposed. My mind and thoughts punctured with self-doubt.
I’d just come out of what I’m now referring to as The Praise Years (don’t worry, I’ll save you another acronym). Seven years of other people telling me how great I was at my job. How inspiring I was. I didn’t believe a word of it, but did it feel good and allow me to develop that character? Yes. Did I play her so well that in the end, I believed I was her? Or rather, she was me? Yes.
And so when the day came that I got too much praise for a small few, they got to work pulling me down. Publicly, no less, in the form of negative reviews of my podcast that questioned my credibility, attacked my personality and assaulted my emotional wellbeing. Online and anonymous bullying under the guise of “constructive criticism”.
For that and to them, I’m so thankful. Here’s why.
In episode 10 of Offline, Leigh Campbell said something I’ll never forget:
“No one can really hurt me, I hurt myself enough. I’m my worst, worst critic. I have a terrible internal dialogue and I’m very nasty to myself. So, I don’t care what you say or think, because I’ve already said it to myself.”
Leigh's words resonated so deeply with me, and proved just how much self work I still need to do. Because in the darkest points of that week, it wasn’t the reviews whirling through my mind, it was my own nasty inner-critic. She was smashing me emotionally. Tearing me down. Embarrassing me. Making me feel sick, worthless and stupid.
Why do you think you’re good enough to launch a podcast?
Your questions are boring.
You pretend you’re sharing but really you just like talking about yourself.
You’re so selfish.
You always interrupt people but what you have to say isn’t that interesting.
Get over yourself.
So when you ask how I’ve navigated negative feelings of self-worth, all I can do is share that my mind is an emotional battle zone, too. It was quieter for a while, but now that I’m out in the world without the impressive job title to hide behind and creating under my own name, the vulnerability is very real.
As women, every day we sit on the frontline fighting what seems like a never-ending war with our inner-critic. Some months and years, we make ground and feel like we’re winning. Other months and years, the mental army of positive thoughts we built up weakens and we start to lose the emotional territory we’ve fought so hard for.
This is a definition – but not the definition – of “the work” we each need to keep doing. And like any job, the work never ends. But over time and with a lot of practice, we get better at doing it. Through (emotional) experience we begin to forecast. We see red flags and we read the signals.
And then something or someone triggers our stored pain, our inner-critic rings the doorbell and one of two things happen:
- Someone living on the surface of their life tells us to “just get on/over it” and we sweep it under the rug again.
- We choose to actively sit in the pain, unpack it, and heal it.
So the next time negative feelings of self-worth start to overtake your stream of consciousness, choose number two. Make it your life’s work to get to know your true self – which is in fact your soul. And your soul is your purpose.
Gary Zukav calls it our “authentic power”—when our personality aligns directly with our soul. I’m still very, very much a student of it, but I think you’ll love his book Seat of the Soul ($14). Oprah does and ultimately we all just need to do what Oprah says.
Thanks for reading my first #AskAlison column. I can’t wait to continue exploring self, spirituality and anything else we bloody well want to, right alongside you both on my podcast and here in this column. Have a question? DM me.
Until next month.