It’s Friday afternoon, and one of my students says to me “I hate you.”
“I know,” I replied, smiling. I try pretty hard to keep the Indy Clause side of my personality under wraps when I tutor students. They are afraid enough of writing as it is. But my Indy self comes out quickly with the right provocation.
Earlier in the appointment, the student said “I’m really hungover.”
“Too bad. You shouldn’t drink so much.” (I’ve been working with this student for a year now, we’re over formalities.)
“Why are you so mean?”
But I know this student makes appointments with me because I will force his lazy, hungover self to write his paper the right way. This is the same thing that happens with my buddy J.
I tell her that something in her writing doesn’t work and she says “Damnit!” and I say “Yes!” because I know it means I’m right. Poor J, how she suffers.
My friend and I were talking about our preparations for the poetry reading last week.
“I printed out my greatest hits,” he said. “There are only four.”
“I printed out the poems that I hate the least.”
Then we started talking about what I think is called negative self talk in psychology circles. For me, it’s a little bit like the evil eye, the idea that boasting draws the attention of the evil eye. So I try not to boast.
For years, I published more than my poetry buddies, and so I only told my mother or one of my non-writing friends when I got something published. DP has been trying the past few years to publish (and finally won a big prize!), so I tried to be low key when I got something published.
Much of the time the negative talk energizes me. Why? Probably because I think it’s funny, and humor is one of the things that keeps me going. Also, because I don’t really think everything I write sucks, I can mock my anxieties and keep them in their place.
How do you talk down to yourself? Is it good for you or not?