Welcome to November! As we move into Winter in the Northern Hemisphere we naturally take our focus inside and this month we are following that impulse and focusing on self-talk…
We all have an inner critic who highlights our flaws and identifies things that we didn’t do ‘perfectly’. In academia, where critical thinking is our superpower, it’s very easy for that inner critic to become overwhelming, leading to a state of paralysis. It’s important to recognize that it’s perfectly normal to experience moments of self-doubt and critique but the key lies in how we manage it.
Whilst being a high achiever can drive us to remarkable results, it can also set unrealistic standards and effect our well-being. Perfectionism, although it may feel like it is helping us to achieve, may actually be tripping us up through stress, anxiety and the relentless pursuit of impossible ideals. We often talk about the ‘golden triangle’ of Perfectionism, Procrastination and Paralysis. Because we are concerned that our writing may not be perfect we may procrastinate and then the negative self talk that kicks in when the work is not being done can lead to a complete sense of stuckness. It is important to interrupt that toxic spiral so that we are able to keep making progress. During my PhD I had a message pasted above my computer during my PhD that reminded me: “Don’t get it right, get it written!”
You may well have developed your own ways of ‘catching yourself in the act’ but, if you feel you would value some support in managing your own internal critic, you might be interested in signing up for my 5 Day PhD Perfectionism Re-set Challenge which is happening from Monday 27th November – Friday 1st December. You can find out more here: https://emmab.kartra.com/page/perfectwaitlist
You might also like to join us for PhD Book Club on 23rd November where we will be discussing Ethan Kross’ book ‘Chatter: The Voice in Our Head (and How to Harness It). Kross proposes that while what he terms the “inner voice” can seem like a demoralizing critic, hellbent on sabotaging our potential it can also be a useful tool for positive guidance. I have a real interest in how we access our internal wisdom/intuition/gut instinct/however you understand these inner ‘nudges’ and am looking forward to hearing your thoughts. You do not have to read the book in order to attend. You can save your seat here: https://mailchi.mp/cfc4bd3178bd/phd-book-club
There are also some great podcast episodes on this theme including Tara Brabazon on procrastination: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-phd-life-raft-podcast/id1537420258?i=1000541106321
and dealing with Perfectionism with Isabeu Iqbal: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/dealing-with-perfectionism-as-phd-student-with/id1537420258?i=1000566294808
The PhD process can bring you face-to-boot with yourself. Although it can be uncomfortable, and maybe even painful, becoming aware of, and working through, negative self talk and finding a healthy relationship with perfectionism can pave the way for a more fulfilling and sustainable Ph.D. journey as well as setting you up for a happier and more productive future.
Cheering you on!