Who’s Living in Your Head? by Erin Patrick
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Have you ever let anyone into your head, you know, to take up residence in your thought life, uninvited? I don’t usually let harsh or mean spirited comments stick with me, but occasionally, someone will say something that catches me off guard and their words come to live in my head.
Although I knew from a very young age that I was meant to be a writer, it took me years to be able to say those words, “I am a writer.” Even now, when I hear those words come out of my mouth, I have the urge to look around and see if anyone will object. As a young child, I wrote poems and short stories. I have kept journals all my life. As an adult, I have written books for friends and family, I blog and I have my own line of greeting cards that I recently started, using my photography and writing.
I had finally accepted that I am good at what I do, maybe even gifted. I began to have a growing confidence in my calling as a writer and I no longer hesitated when others asked me what I do. It felt liberating to be comfortable in my own skin, accepting and welcoming my gifts.
Then, recently I had a major set back in this area that caused me to not be able to write for some months. And it’s all because, I listened to some nasty words about myself and my writing ability. Before I knew it, the person who said those things to me, was living, uninvited, in my head. Without even realizing it, I allowed negative and unproductive criticism to stop my belief in myself and my creativity.
This person, who is very highly regarded in the writing community in our city, and who I had great respect for, said to me, “You are not a writer. You told me you were a writer, but you’re not.” I was taken by complete surprise and his words pierced my heart right to the core. I heard his words over and over again, in my mind, day after day. Soon, I was paralyzed when it came to writing. I let careless words from someone who doesn’t even know me, block the channel that I have from the Lord, to write. Every time I sat down to write, I felt nothing. I was empty and cried many times, because I thought I’d never be able to write again.
The regular readers of my blog began to contact me. They wondered why I had stopped writing and sharing with them. My family noticed a change in my personality and became worried. I began to isolate myself from everyone. But somehow, deep inside, I knew that I could never walk away from something that was such a part of me…something that I loved so dearly.
I began to go back over articles and posts that I’ve written. I read and re-read comments and notes from people who told me that I had inspired and encouraged them. I prayed to be able to put that man’s nasty words out of my head. In place of those negative words, I started repeating good things about my writing. Sometimes, I would even say them out loud. I asked other writers to honestly critique my writing. I began to feel my gift take a hold again and my confidence began to grow.
I remember the day I tentatively sat back down to write again, after being away for what seemed like an eternity. I took a deep breath, relaxed and the words began to flow. I’ve come to accept that not everyone will enjoy my writing. But I also know, that unless it’s constructive criticism, I don’t have to let words that try to take away my gift, live uninvited in my head.
About Erin: Erin Patrick lives with her husband in the midwest. She has raised 6 children and has 3 grandchildren. Erin has been writing for several years, including an inspirational blog, articles for online magazines and content for other websites. She is currently developing a line of inspirational greeting cards using her own photography and in the process of writing 2 books.