Self-Awareness: a writer’s greatest asset

The other day, my little boys and I worked on behavior modification. “Youngest,” I said, “what can you change about yourself to make it easier for your family, your teachers and your friends?”

With no hesitation, my eight-year-old said, “Anger management.”

Surprised he recognized this as his big behavior issue, I kept my face blank and my voice calm. “So, you need to work on anger management?”

With a sigh and all the honesty that such a small child can muster, he replied, “No mom. I need anger management classes.”

At this point I nearly wet myself–but I didn’t. “What does that mean exactly? What do you need to work on?”

“You know, pinching, hitting, kicking, screaming, squeezing….”

I wonder how long he would have tattled on himself if I hadn’t interrupted. I also wonder why we adults fail to have such a clear vision of ourselves and our down-falls.

Imagine what we could do as writers if we sat back and really took a look at the motivations behind our behaviors. What would happen if we isolated those behaviors into a single modification plan to increase our level of success?

At an SCBWI writer’s conference I attended this past weekend, literary agent Karen Grencik basically asked that question. After speaking on inspiration, she gave us an assignment: figure out the greatest lie you tell yourself that holds you back from reaching your potential.

Ugh. If only I’d had Youngest’s introspection at that point. But I didn’t. It wasn’t until my five-hour drive home from the conference that I realized the answer. It was a humbling experience to finally figure out what holds me back and why it has such a strong hold on me. It won’t be easy to debunk the myth and move past my motivational block, but it will be well worth it. Maybe even more so than Youngest learning to keep his fists at bay.

Thank you Youngest for showing me how to take a hard look at myself. And thanks to Karen for asking the question that made me do it.

What about you, dear readers, what myths and lies do you carry around that impact your level of motivation and success?

Curious minds want to know.

4 responses to “Self-Awareness: a writer’s greatest asset

  1. Good question. I know both fear of success & fear of failure (yeah, I’m a mess) hold me back a lot. In fact, there are a few more fears in there too *sigh* I really do need to push past those to get a clearer vision of what I need to do to take those next steps!!

  2. Years ago I had an epiphany I thought my personality was not likable. Since the realization I consciously knew I was wrong about myself, but it took a lot to dampen the belief and I still have to periodically tell myself that is not true. I hope your son can retain that honesty because I believe it will protect him in the long run.

    • Thanks so much for commenting and sharing your journey. Life can tell us things we logically know otherwise, yet our hearts seem to believe no matter how often we dispute it.

      I do love my Youngest’s ability to be so aware of his behaviors and the consequences of his actions. In preschool one day he was knocking down block towers. The teacher told him to please stop and said that if he did it again he would need to take a time-out. She went off to do something else and came back to find him sitting in time-out. She felt horrible and thought he misunderstood. “Honey, you don’t have to sit in time out now.” To which he answered, “Yeah, I do. I knocked down the blocks again.”

      Kids, you’ve got to love them!

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