Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Obsessing Over You

I had an awful dream last night about getting online and seeing that everyone had posted something they hate about me. It was terrible. It's amazing I didn't wake up crying because...well, I kind of obsess about people liking me. It's a huge flaw. It's something I hate about myself.

What I wish could have been tacked onto the end of this dream was a big sign that said:


Yeah. I need that stapled to my forehead. This obsessing over what others think about me has gotten so bad that it has entered my dreams. It has gotten so bad that as I've tried to work on my novella, THIRDS, I keep stopping every other sentence to ask myself who will hate the line and why. It has gotten so bad that every single post I put up on Twitter or Facebook or my blogs runs through my head all day long as I ask myself, Who will find something offensive in this? Do I sound too selfish? Did I say what I want to say in the most political manner? 

It has gotten bad enough that I feel I can't even be myself...that being myself is a bad thing.

It's selfish to obsess over this, and it's got to stop!

Do you have any suggestions for me? I'll go hide in a corner now as I worry about what you think about this post...


  1. First of all Michelle, I'm going to tell you exactly what I think of you. I think you're awesome. I think you're beautiful and talented. Amazing really.

    Now I'm going to tell you something that may make you feel bad, but in the end it's actually freeing. No one is thinking about you that much. Everyone is too focused on themselves to think about you, so get over yourself.

    Now I'm worried you think that I'm a rude jerk - see I'm too worried about what you think of me too obsess over you.

    Again you're awesome. Don't worry so much - you'll never be able to please everyone.

  2. It gets tricky when you're all popular and famous like you are, but you have to remember you have two circles of people you're wanting to like you. The broad masses of us, and then whoever is in the circle of people you trust on some personal level.

    One trick to managing this type of obsessive worrying is to trust the people you trust to tell you when you've done something offensive, when you've come across as selfish, or when you've said something impolitic.

    When you do that, you can hand hand your worrying over them. "Okay, I don't need to ask myself if this is stupid, because if it is, April or May or Augustus will tell me, and they'll do it in a way that lets me correct it gracefully."

    So think about your circle and then practice trusting them to help keep you in check.

    I say practice, because I know you're a control freak, and I know that trusting other people to help keep you in check doesn't come naturally to control freaks.

    Like me.


  3. Mary: I honestly think that is some of the best advice I have EVER heard. Really. Yes, it stings a little to realize I'm not the center of the universe...but I'm the center of my own universe along with several other people surrounding me - God and my family. And they are the most important to me.

    We're all too wrapped up in ourselves to take any long amount of notice of anyone else. It's not a bad thing, just human nature, but I do hope that I can be generous and kind and help others as much as I'm able to. It's all such a fine balance because when I say I'm Obsessing Over You it means I'm Obsessing Over Myself, and of course I'm going to worry about that too. Sigh. One day I will master this.

    Nevets: Oh, that is great advice to trust in others! Instead of obsessing over what others think, I should TRUST in what others think and how we can help each other.

    See, now I'm stewing over this post and wondering if I should delete. I'd trust you to tell me if I needed to. :)

  4. I would let this post stand as a memorial to your last public flailing about in self-obsession, but make sure you close the comment thread personally with a remark that seals for yourself a commitment to moving on.

    Unless you start getting too many comments from too many directions that send you a feedback processing spiral that leads right back into self-obsession and questioning.

    In which case, I would delete it then and there.

    A broad array of feedback is good. Too much feedback only fuels your (speaking to you specifically, Michelle) questioning and obsession.

  5. Nevets: Yes, too much feedback will only fuel my questioning and obsession, but then if I were to get no feedback that would fuel my questioning and obsession. What a cycle. But I have received feedback and I'm grateful! I'll keep the post up for now. :)

  6. hahaha Yeah, it's definitely a cycle. That's where your gatekeepers or circle of trust or whatever you want to call them come in handy to help guide you toward the most meaningful feedback or to the cut-off point beyond which additional feedback will be just confusing.

    And like everything else, how you specifically work that out is of course highly personalized and individualized. lol

  7. Politically correct...haha. It sounds vaguely familiar, but I'm not sure I know the definition of the term.

    Honestly, there are worse things than giving a damn. Not giving a damn, for example. I think you're in good shape. Yeah, it doesn't do you any good to worry about it too much, but at least you care enough to keep an eye on your image and how people see you. Smart gal, if you ask me.

    Plus, you're awesome. That helps, lol.

  8. What a wonderful and courageous post, Michelle. My advice, just try to be yourself. I think you'll find that it will go over better than you think, and you'll be encouraged to do it more often.

  9. Even more important than what you think of yourself is what God thinks of you! (He's a lot more generous, forgiving, patient, gentle, kind, etc. than we are toward ourselves...)

    Also, 2 great quotes about critics:

    If the critics were always right, we should be in deep trouble. -- Robert Morley

    It behooves every man to remember that
    the work of the critic is of altogether
    secondary importance, and that in the
    end, progress is accomplished by the man
    who does things. -- Theodore Roosevelt

    Keep doing things, girl!! :)

  10. You are very right! I could just not care. That would be sad, I think. People like passionate people. :)

    Domey: Thank you! I've always loved having such a support system, and you're part of that along with so many others that make me not go insane when I feel this way.

    K-onna: Thank you! Those are just fantastic quotes! I need to print those out and put them up where I see them every day. I'm going to do that now...

  11. That first comment was for you, Breanne!

  12. I've also been thinking about this. I think it's a deep down insecurity that will pass.

  13. Michelle, this too, shall pass.

    You're somewhat off the mark in your self-assessment. No where in your post did you mention the word "responsibility," yet this is what you feel and the root of your insecurity. You feel responsible to provide the reader with a story worthy of spending their hard-earned dollar in this craptasic economy.

    You feel responsible to yourself in trying to stay true to your values as you write. Now you are responsible for providing material to a publisher and participating in the author community.

    Anxiety about these big changes is common and it took some bravery to admit what a lot of people in your position feel. I know I would feel the same way.

    In the end, though, you must stay honest to your work and your talent. Cinders was an honest book, and that what separates you from many other writers that try, and never do.

    You heart makes the right choices when you write. This is your talent.

  14. I'm awed by the good advice. I've struggled with this too. I am a nervous wreck right now because of what I wrote about myself in the Comments sections of my anthology. See? Mary Campbell is right. The first thing that popped into my mind when I read your post was how this applied to me....

    I totally sympathize with your nightmare.

  15. Medeia: Aww, well, it's lovely to see here that I am not alone. Thank you for reading and commenting. Feeling supported like this is a wonderful thing.

    Anthony: That makes absolutely perfect sense. I think it's exactly why I feel the way I do, and understanding why I feel something is half the battle. I always get very downtrodden when I feel the weight of responsibility for anything. When my daughter was born I thought I was going to split at the seams with anxiety. This does feel a bit similar.

    Tara: Oh, I cannot wait to read your anthology! I'm very excited, and I can assure you it won't make me think less of you. I'm really happy you understand. :)

  16. I have always loved Don Miguel Ruiz' "The Four Agreements" - number three is "Never take anything personally". The underlying problem that we each seem to carry is based on this idea that I call "personhood" - belief that we ARE this rickety aggregation of ideas about a "self" that needs to be protected. How far from the truth. The way out of fear of judgment is to release "personhood" and follow promptings that do not originate from the egoic mind. To love instead of fear. To "not care" in the midst of compassionate intention. To hold awareness on what is light and bright and white in life and to speak whatever words are given. There is no loss or gain to be had either way. Only by holding onto preference do we create "unfulfillment of expectation". Live life in the mystery and experience the power of your creative Self, expressing through Life.

  17. I've written in a past post about something similar, though it was talking about my parents reading what I wrote. As I have said, it's tough. I don't have a lot, but there is some swearing involved, and topics that they definitely don't like very much. But I've kind of gotten over that.

    But I have a new one. My nieces and nephews have suddenly discovered my book.

    Oooof, this one is tough.

    They are at the age where they see me as sort of a role model, and again, their current thinking about spiritual issues, and mine, are not the same. The fact that my books don't necessarily fit into their framework, is a little tough to swallow sometimes.

    I worry about what they think, but in the long term, I think they will understand. Once they get older they will get what I was doing.

    It's just that right now, frankly it's a little embarrassing.

  18. @Douglas - I grew up with my mom (freelance editor) doing my editing. She's amazing at it, really. And I think I want to have her edit my MS before I send it off to agents. But there's a significant increase in foul language, graphic violence, and crude sentiment.

    Not that she's never read worse. She sure has.

    But not from me...

    So, yeah. I feel you.

    Oh. And the first person in my family to by Genre Wars, in which my stories featured a man who orchestrates his own colorful demise and another man who revels in decomposed flesh...?

    My grandma.

    *sigh* I haven't asked her yet what she thinks.

  19. Douglas: Oh, gosh, I know what you mean. My 10 year old sister in law wants to read Cinders. Ummmm, it's a bit old for her and I feel like a jerk and a bad role model telling her that. I know exactly how you feel.


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