3 Beliefs To Challenge in the New Year

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Boxing glovesThis month, everyone’s thinking about New Year’s resolutions. Let’s try something less traditional than dieting and juice fasts. Let’s try challenging negative self-talk as writers and communicators.

I’ll start. I have beliefs that hold me back. I bet you have them too. I say these things subconsciously, and I believe them far more often than I should. I fear if I hear them often enough, they will become true. That’s a good motivator to do something about it.

The trick is to hear what the inner critic says and then reframe the self-talk to become more positive and accepting. That’s my New Year’s resolution.

Here are three things I say that don’t help. Just three. A small list is a realistic way to affect change. Maybe you have these beliefs too, and together, we can change the conversation:

1. I am not a good enough writer.

I still think this, even though I have been published in newspapers and magazines for decades, and my book has won two awards. I know. It’s not logical, but the critic is powerful and needs to be redirected.

New self-talk for 2014: I am doing fine as a writer. I have more to say. The second sentence is important too. If I can free myself to write, without self-criticism, I will produce more work. Duh.

2. Why should anyone care what I have to say?

Well, a lot of people don’t, as it turns out. Most people, in fact. So I’m concentrating on the people who do, and who enjoy and appreciate my writing. I won’t look at who has unfollowed me, or unsubscribed from my newsletter, or who doesn’t open my emails. Those things don’t matter. What matters most is to keep going, to keep the words flowing.

New self-talk for 2014: People want to read my work and hear from me.

3. Everyone else is doing better than I am.

This one is easy. Whenever I use the word “everyone,” I know I’m exaggerating. Also, ever since I adapted this strategy of being just fine in the middle, I’m quicker to catch myself when I have this thought.

New self- talk for 2014: Many people are doing better. I am doing better than some. I’m doing just fine in the middle.

Okay, I came clean. What’s on your list? How are you going to change to positive self-talk?

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(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)


  1. says

    My technical skills are still far from the level of many food bloggers, but I try to remind myself that, for a retired psychotherapist who is collecting Social Security, I’m doing a pretty good job.

  2. says

    I tell myself the quality of what I do–both with writing and with cooking–is high, and getting higher all of the time. I still am unhappy with my website, but it’s better than no site at all, and it’s a motivation to build something better. This year I’m okay with getting all Stuart Smalley on my ass.

  3. says

    Thanks for the motivation to think about this, Dianne! Here’s mine:

    Some people want to hear what I have to say. I have several new projects underway, some big, some small — should give me plenty of opportunity to work on developing my voice.

  4. says

    Wow, Dianne, you managed to find the three soundbites/beliefs that run over and over in my mind. Ha! Glad to know that I am not alone. I appreciate your suggestions on how to stop the madness and get on with the positive. Amen!
    Happy New Year!

    • diannejacob says

      Wow, the same three! What are the chances of that? I guess pretty good, sadly. Best wishes for a positive new year, Karletta.

  5. says

    Number 2 is a big one for me. I tend to feel down when I see unsubscribes or not many comments (even when the views are there) and I wonder what am I doing wrong? But then I remember, someone emails me or actually says it to me in person that shows they do read and care. Tha’ts what matters – it’s about distinguishing between numbers and people.

  6. Catherine Ross says

    Thanks for sharing this. My 2014 resolution is to trust myself, go with my gut, and stop over-thinking everything! Wish me luck!

  7. says

    My 2013 self: The foodie blogosphere is so crowded, I’m sure I could fade away and no one would notice.

    My 2014 self: I make a contribution in the teeny tiny little part of the foodie blogosphere I occupy.

  8. says

    This hits home for almost every writer I know, including me. I think the fact that we often work in isolation does not help matters. I have an inner pusher who keeps me moving all the time, sometimes to my detriment, and then I have an inner critic who says some of those same things you have listed here. My other thing I say is “I”m a terrible blogger! How am I going to get a cookbook deal without a blog?” Also: “I’m not a photographer, how can I expect to have a blog that looks awesome….and then get a cookbook…..?” But then I look at all the food blogs out there with poorly written instructions and copied recipes and I realize that as slowly as I’m moving on that front, what I am posting is quality, when I do post. I just need to find the shape of my path. I’m on it, and I’ve been told that having a blog isn’t the ONLY way to get a cookbook deal, but dang, it seems to be de rigeur these days. Within my food community where I live, I already know that people are listening to what I say and are interested and respect me; beyond that, I don’t have a big audience and so I don’t have the Google analytics to back it up. The trick is getting that and getting bigger. I need to come to some happy medium with it. Right now blogging feels like a necessary evil to get ahead, but I feel like a voice in the dark. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way.

    • says

      I know how you feel, I feel the same way and Dianne has truly brought us writers together to realize that we all feel the same at one point or another and we all have the opportunity to make it out there. :) Happy New year

    • diannejacob says

      I have never heard of an inner pusher, but I like this idea. I have one too, and I’m so grateful for her, otherwise maybe I’d never get anything done.

      Yes, a blog is the best way to get a cookbook deal these days, unless you have a TV show or some other celebrity status.

      I hope you’re still having fun with the blog. If you’re not, perhaps you need to figure out some self-talk that will help you get back to having a good time?

      In the meantime, I suggest this self-talk: I have a high-quality blog. People are reading my blog and they respect me. I am working on increasing my audience.

    • diannejacob says

      Thanks Terry. Funny how we all have these insecurities, eh? Shall I conclude that since I took them right out of your heart, they are gone? That would be swell.

  9. says

    It’s so refreshing to hear such a wonderful and proclaimed writer talk and speak the way you feel. It’s nice to know if you feel like this, that it’s okay for me to feel this way too. I’ve been a writer for a short time compared to you and with less experience. I love when people comment but I rarely get comments, I love when I see my numbers spike and I get discouraged when they don’t. But in 2014 I believe in ME, I believe in my Cooking and Writing and I know that whatever I put my mind to something I can make it happen. So sure I only have 8 views today, tomorrow is another day and the next will only be better!

    Thank you for the motivation!

    • diannejacob says

      Thanks Kristin. Listen, people much bigger than either of us have these insecurities too. Maybe they’re better at dealing with them than we are. As for commenters, I have much fewer than in previous years. These days there are so many forums for “talking” that there’s increased competition.

      I like your new self talk for 2014. Keep it up.

  10. says

    Great frame of mind to put us in, Dianne. I don’t worry about my skills as a writer. I do fear that I will never become truly successful; I’m one of those writers who always makes a little money but never a lot.Twenty years ago I certainly thought I’d be more established now! On the other hand, having just read “Provence, 1970,” I am amazed at the power of people to reinvent themselves in middle age. So I retain hope.

    • diannejacob says

      Okay, then you need to work on your self-talk about success, Tinky. What can you say to yourself? How about: I am “just fine in the middle?” That one really helps me.

      As for reinvention in middle age, I did it, so I know it can be done. I quit my last job and built my own business doing this, and I love it.

      • says

        I reinvented myself well beyond middle age. I’m sharing this hoping to inspire not to brag. After a successful career in Corporate America and as an entrepreneur, I retired and made the decision to focus on food even though my career wasn’t the least bit food related. I just got a contract for my first book which will be published in the year of my sixtieth birthday. Dreams and passion are ageless, thank goodness.

  11. Andrew says

    Dianne, here’s a reply to keep for a rainy day: Although I’m only marginally interested in food, I read your blog posts because of your graceful writing. Plus, I can apply your three lessons above to my work as a content developer. — Andrew

    • diannejacob says

      Oh thank you, Arnold, that means a lot to me. I have never thought of myself as graceful, so I appreciate the compliment.

      These lessons certainly apply to content developers too, and I hope you have some reframed self talk for 2014.

  12. says

    Great post. An awful lot rings through for me.
    My 3 are similar enough to yours.
    1. Content is king (something I regretfully neglected for a while).
    2. Measure my success by myself, not others.
    3. Have fun. If it’s not fun every now and again it’s not worth doing.

    • diannejacob says

      These are great new sayings for 2014, Caitriona. I agree heartily with all three, particularly the one about having fun. Good luck with the implementation.

  13. says

    Your “3-prong” warning came at the perfect time. On New Years Day, I started my blog – something I intended to do three years ago but didn’t for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Even though my design isn’t yet where I want it to be, I found my voice by just starting to write like I was talking to a friend. I found that I love the process. As always, we are sometimes our own worst enemy. We just need to get out of the way. Thanks for the heads-up.

    • diannejacob says

      Congrats on starting your blog! That is a great way to write, as though you know the person on the other side of the screen. Now all you have to do is keep it up. Some self-talk for you: Writing my blog is satisfying. The design is coming along.

  14. says

    The troll on my shoulder says things like: Freelancing isn’t a REAL job; you have to pick something and focus on it; editing is easier than writing, photography and illustration, so make that your career.

    The same troll looks at articles and photography that are right up my alley, and muses, “You could do that. But first, you need to do more research.”

    The good fairy on the other shoulder counters: Freelancing IS a real job. In fact, it is a self-owned business, which is arguably harder. She also validates my multiple interests, but doesn’t have much insight into how to pursue them simultaneously (the troll may be right on that point). And finally, the good fairy says, “Block the blogs and websites, and start writing. Or, send some introductory emails to potential clients. And whatever you do, stop fiddling with your website and DO something!”

    • diannejacob says

      Oh yes, the good cop/bad cop routine. I am familiar with it. I like how you call them troll and fairy.

      Your fairy validates you and your career. I hope you listen to her more often!

  15. says

    Thank you so much for this post! I have been blogging for nine years, and I am less confident in my writing now that I was when I started. There are so many blogs now, and so many other outlets for getting content. I really want to write more with reckless abandon. You helped me to push forward.

    • diannejacob says

      Hah! No, sadly, there are many of us. We just don’t talk about it. You are right that the critic needs to be redirected. He or she can come in handy during the editing process, but this negative stuff can grow in volume when we’re not paying attention.

  16. says

    Dianne, this is something I’ve been thinking a lot about. My hope for this year is to change my way of thinking. To eliminate the negative self-talk and to practice more thankfulness and gratitude for the fact that I am able to do what I love to do. Writing is something I have always loved but I put it on hold for a while. Now, my kids are mostly grown and I’m kind of reinventing myself and finding my new career. It’s scary but fun and each day it only gets better.

    • diannejacob says

      Oh good Joanie. It sounds like you’re on the right track. You already have your positive self talk down in the last two sentences. Keep saying them to yourself.

  17. says

    This is just wonderful, Dianne. Thank you for writing this. I’ve been aware of the exact same voices holding me back, and I’m incredibly grateful to have new self-talk to combat those voices. Thank you!!

    • diannejacob says

      You are most welcome. Now you just have to say these things to yourself. Every day if possible. And I need to do so as well.

  18. says

    My list is your list save one more: changing “I don’t have time to develop all of the content I want” to both (not either) “I’m in charge of my time, so I can make the time” and “I’m allowed to rearrange my schedule.”

  19. says

    Dianne, you continue to inspire, instruct and delight. Thanks for your positive and constructive thoughts! You are absolutely right – I want to hear from you and care what you have to say.

    In the last year, I started teaching a fitness class a couple times a week. It’s a perfect counterbalance to the isolating work of photography and writing. You know what I’ve found? I tell my clients a lot of the things I should be telling myself when the negative self talk starts its inevitable creep: “You’ve got this. You can do this. Stay strong. Stand tall. You have everything you need to be your best self.” I’m making a believer out of myself. It’s funny how verbalizing these statements to others can have a profound impact on the self!

    • diannejacob says

      Thanks so much Alicia. It’s lovely to read this from you.

      Good for you for stepping away from your computer and camera and communicating with people in the outside world. Isn’t it funny how we tell our clients the things we most need to tell ourselves? I am guilty of this too. Now you just have to say these valuable messages to yourself, over and over.

  20. says

    Perfect start to the year, Dianne! I’ve had everyone of those thoughts over and over for the last four years. On my next project (screenplay) I’m going to focus on the journey and on how much of an adventure writing it could be.

    • diannejacob says

      Sigh. Sorry about that Judith. But you’re going forward anyway, and that’s what counts. You have new positive self talk: My new screenplay is be an adventure. I am enjoying the journey.

  21. Anne Green says

    Hi Dianne, thanks for the inspirational words … this is a huge generalisation but I think most of the people who engage in negative self talk are those who aim high. It’s that drive to achieve that spurs on onwards to do things like create blogs and write books, but its downside is that we are more than usually sensitive to the “inner critic”. Let’s try and cultivate the “inner fan” instead! I’m currently setting up my blog and grappling with all the technical issues that involves, so when stuff goes wrong as happens about half the time my inner critic starts jumping up and down shouting “see I told you you could never do it .. you should just give up now”. Gradually I’m learning to tell him to shove off and instead celebrate the other half of the stuff that goes right.

  22. says

    Thank you so much Dianne. I have only started my blog in April last year and since then, like many people, I have had doubts about my abilities as a writer and a blogger. At the same time I’m very proud of my achievements so far and of what I have learned. My blog is more than just food and it has been a pleasure to travel, discover and research about subjects I had little knowledge about before. Learning about different cultures and traditions has been wonderful. I am currently back in Europe, in Austria on vacation and to visit the family of my husband. Tomorrow I will leave for Portugal, my country, to do the same. I have been writing here in the most trying circumstances and wondering if I am still doing a good job. Yesterday, when I was thinking about my last post, an Austrian told me how he had never known the full story before, thank me for a great job and told me he would follow my suggestions. I was so grateful. So my New Year resolutions are to continue to write about what really interests or touches me. To continue to have fun, trust more in my abilities and worry less about statistics.

  23. Yvette {Muy Bueno} says

    Wow! This is so awesome! Just know that I read your stuff all the time! Sometimes late, but I do. I don’t always comment as I am busy and remind myself that others are busy too and don’t always have time to leave a comment on my blog.

    One of my resolutions is to be genuinely happy for other bloggers and not secretly jealous. I have always had a bad habit in life comparing myself to others and in the blogging world it’s hard not to.

    So far it’s really working for me. Instead of being jealous I reach out and give a genuine compliment. I’m looking forward to exciting and positive projects for 2014!


    • diannejacob says

      Yes, we all have this bad habit of being envious, and to some extent, it’s just normal human behavior. But not when it drags us down, so it’s good that you’re trying to work on it. If you have not yet read my post on Comparing, I hope you will do so.

      Good for you for being excited and positive about the coming year, Yvette. That’s the spirit.

  24. Shelly Collins says

    Happy New Year Dianne – one of my goals for this year is to have a stronger sense of self. That certainly requires transforming self-talk. Consistency is key! It is going to be a good year.

    I am really looking forward to meeting you at FoodBlog South.

    • diannejacob says

      Hey Shelly, this is intriguing. What do you mean by a stronger sense of self? More self-confidence? You can never go wrong with that. See you in a few weeks!

      • Shelly Collins says

        Hi Dianne, In the context of my goal, a stronger sense of self means for me to keep a clear distinction between me and the egos’ motivations. It also means to take a power position within myself so that the internal self talk no longer holds any water.

        I am flying into Birmingham on Thursday afternoon. When will you be arriving? Feel free to contact me at lovingfoodandlife@ gmail.com. I would love to chat with you more if you have any free time over the weekend.

        • diannejacob says

          Hi Shelly, that sounds great! Anything you can do to recognize internal self talk is terrific. Re Birmingham, I am doing a quick in and out. I might be able to meet you after my session on Thursday. Are you coming to it? Send me an email, dj@diannej.com.

  25. says

    Thank you Dianne, you post has encouraged me to get back to blogging after a long Christmas break, prompting me to think about how to banish my inner critic and how to stop complaining that I have no time! I also had someone criticize me online for writing for a platform away from (and bigger than) my own, which I thought was good for exposure but led to them telling me I was cheapening myself. It sometimes takes a lot of courage to not only ignore an inner critic but also the outer ones,too! Hope you have a productive and successful 2014 x

    • diannejacob says

      I didn’t think about the outer critics, Ren. How awful and hurtful. It takes a lot of strength to believe in yourself and ignore those nasty remarks. I’m not so good at it either. In my last situation, a friend put the person’s comments in context for me (she said that the powerful person who criticized me was actually very naive) and then I got it and I was fine. I couldn’t put it in context for myself.

      Yes, you are in charge of your time and only you can make time for what matters most. That is a good resolution to work on.

    • diannejacob says

      Hi Ishita, lovely to hear from you. Yes, we all need a boost sometimes. I think it’s perfectly normal. You have a wonderful year ahead too.

  26. says

    I just went and read your post you linked to here, “Somewhere in the middle,” which somehow I missed when it was written, and found it very encouraging. I started a sort of food blog (not really sure what kind of animal it is yet) at the end of last year and I often feel that I arrived at the party way too late. But I’m glad I finally started; I had delayed so long for fear of not being good enough.
    Thank you for your blog; this is my first time commenting but I find it immensely practical and helpful.

    • diannejacob says

      How wonderful to hear from you, Evangeline, and congrats on starting your blog. Not being good enough and feeling late to the party are very common responses and you have overcome them. Congrats! I hope you will keep reading and comment again.


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