Rewriting my internal dialogue

This week’s assignment feels weird. I haven’t been able to do it yet. I get started and then think, “this is stupid” and then I give up.

I like to write encouragement cards and send texts to others saying stuff like “attaboy” and “I appreciate you,” or “good job.” I mean every word of each text or card I write.

“Would you be able to write something like that to yourself?” my counselor asked.

We were talking about my tendency to see everything short of perfection as failure for myself and how I dismiss praise as disingenuous.

I immediately thought of Al Franken’s Stuart Smalley character on Saturday Night Live looking at his reflection in the mirror,”I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”

If I don’t even believe other people when they say kind things why would I believe myself?

Last week I saw a Facebook post thanking a photographer for volunteering at a non-profit event and praising his work. The photos posted were absolutely terrible. They were dark, out of focus and lacked any sense of composition. Honestly, they looked like the work of a 10-year-old with a new digital camera. What bothered me was all the posts underneath heaping on praise for all the “awesome” photos.

I get it. People were just being kind and thanking him for his efforts. He’s obviously just learning. The problem is that my messed-up mind concluded that people are also lying when they say my photos are awesome or they are just being kind.

It’s ridiculous. I know I have years of undergraduate and graduate level formal education. I know I have knowledge, technical proficiency and 40 years of professional and semi-professional experience as a photographer. My resumé includes dozens of weddings from Maine to Florida to Hawaii with happy people giving rave reviews. Hundreds of portraits hang on walls: seniors, children, families. Gallery pieces sell every year. Marketing, branding, professional headshots … but still, my mind is now telling me I don’t really know what I’m doing and I stress out before even the simplest of shoots.

Male and female bluebird at feeder.
Mounted a GoPro at my bluebird feeder.

The same thing is happening with my work as a pastor. I know I am equipped to teach. I know my seminary education prepped me and I know that working in ministry since 1981 has left me with plenty of experiences, good and bad. But I am stressing out about everything thinking, “you don’t know what you’re doing. You suck at this.”

So now my therapy homework has me writing down my strengths, telling myself I did a good job with this or that and affirming my value. I’ll keep doing it because people who study brains and know how they work tell me this will be helpful. I need to change my internal dialogue.

More importantly, David shows me in the Psalms that it is certainly a biblical exercise as well. If it was good enough for David it is good enough for me and I will make myself do it.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.

Psalm 139:13-14

I really, really appreciate all you who are praying for me through this Romans 12:2 journey of renewing my mind. Thank you!

About Scott Linscott

Living life to the fullest, walking in the dust of my Rabbi, creating art through photography and written word, speaking words of hope wherever and whenever the opportunity arises.
This entry was posted in anxiety, counseling, depression, discouragement, imposter syndrome, mental health, ministry, pastor and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Rewriting my internal dialogue

  1. says:

    Thank you, Scott for sharing your journey with all of us. The more you write, the more I see myself in your words.

    Maybe I should take some of the advice you are getting.

  2. Mary McGaw says:

    Keep on going and it will be worth it in the future. It takes courage to do what you are doing. Prayers continue.

  3. Terry says:

    Sounds like God connected you with a helpful counselor. I hope you found that writing this post was clarifying and encouraging. 💕

What are you thinking? Tell me!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s