Monday, June 16, 2014

Trash Talking

By: Julie L. Cleveland

One look at today’s so-called news stations, and you know that the formula du jour is how to trash talk everyone else, and if your message is not being heard, then scream over everyone’s head. In really desperate measures, cut someone’s microphone if they disagree with you. It’s Jerry Springer on steroids, and it’s a wonder no one has hit another guest over the head with a chair. Maybe that’s why they are always put into talking head boxes and never side by side in the studio. It’s Thunderdome.

Negativity abounds and we’re bombarded with it daily. Not only from the television, but the radio, the Internet and all the other ways that we communicate. It’s trendy to put down and ridicule those who oppose you. News is now Op-Ed with slants everywhere but in the middle.

As a freelancer, both as a writer and as an artist, it’s hard enough to get through a day without being smashed with negativity from sources outside my own head. The self-employed individual has a tough day, everyday.

Many people think that if you’re self-employed that you either don’t work hard, or you don’t want to work hard. I’m here to tell you that the self-employed people that I know work harder than most people with a  9 to 5 job. Especially, if you’re working on the Internet. Whether you’re selling products from your website, or your job is to write copy for clients, you don’t clock out at 5 p.m. because the clock says so. No, you continue past 5, you work weekends, and you check your emails before you go to bed.

Randy Southerland of Southwrite blog tells of the difficulties and doubts that he finds himself encountering on a daily basis as he journeys through the self-employment minefield. In The Utter Madness of the Freelance Writer Randy wonders if he made the right choice once the long term client vanishes and another one stops answering messages. Those are the times that it makes clocking out at 5 for mere pennies a relatively safe environment to stay within.

Self-doubt is the freelancer’s constant companion. The self-speak that we do can do more damage than a boss with an agenda to destroy moral. I have worked in toxic work environments, and they are not only damaging to the individuals trying to work within them, they can destroy a business quicker than a recession. What do you do when that toxic environment is in your head?

Mikaela D’Eigh, author of La Belle Dame de Merci blog touches on the importance of repeating positive messages in our head to combat the negative ones that have been playing for years. In her post Messengers of Healing: Drowning Out Negativity, she challenges us to stop the negative cycle within our self-speak and the influence from outside forces out of our control.

Both of these authors have hit on important points about being self-employed. Those of us who are out there working for ourselves are probably broke from starting businesses and tired from working all the jobs within the business. As Mr. Southerland says, we’re the people who couldn’t play well with others or have been deemed bossy. Within those two skillsets, lie the heart of the entrepreneur.

We believe we can do it better. We believe we know more about something than those who are in control. We believe that our ideas have great potential. We believe in what we are creating. We believe in what we do. We believe in hope. We believe in taking chances. We believe that because we’re broke today, we'll be comfortable tomorrow. We believe a lot of things about ourselves that are positive messages.

We need to say those things to ourselves every morning when we get up and stare at blank screens while our coffee brews. I don’t know about you, but I still get excited about going to work in the morning. Over the years, I have been self-employed on a number of occasions, but this stretch has been going on for several years, and I may change what products I produce or what topics I might write about, I am always flexing new muscles to adapt to changing environments.

Today, I am: strong, flexible, powerful, adaptable, creative, determined, committed and positive.

While every day brings new challenges, every day should also bring new, positive reinforcement discussions you have with yourself. Being in an office where you can get instant gratification for a job well-done may be something you cannot get being self-employed, but being self-employed means that you did the job well in the first place. If you need companionship, take a walk, go to the store, wander the mall, interact with people, pet the dog or do any of the number of positive things that will help you get the satisfaction of interaction. Then go back to work because you really can do it better, and your ideas really do have great potential.

What positive discussions are you having with yourself as you face your different challenges?


Julie and Blu



  1. Great post, Julie and very timely. Keeping a positive mindset is vital to being successfully self-employed. The problem is that as (usually) sole-proprietors, we rarely have anyone to turn to cheer us on, tell us we're great or remind of past successes. We have to be able to do it ourselves. That's one reason I think self care is so important to the freelance life. Certainly we work too many long hours, but we can also take advantage of our boss status to get out of the office and take a few minutes to meditate, read or talk to a friend. Like you I love going to work everyday. I don't necessarily love everything that takes place in a typical day, but I won't change a thing. And I can't imagine going back to the office.

  2. Fascinating post, Julie. I find sometimes I become hermit-like in working at home. Fortunately Seamus does get me out and I also have set a specific time to workout. OK, most of the "workout" is with the mouth, but I use it as a time to socialize with people face to face. And a group of us goes out for lunch at least once a week. I truly value these ladies. The I feel reenergized and get back to it, either in my studio or on the computer

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. In many ways it is true that we are what we think. What we think determines our attitudes and actions. It can be dangerous to stay inside your own head too long, thinking your own negative thoughts, and letting those negative thoughts influence how you treat yourself and others. So often we don't even have all the information, especially the right information, to make an accurate judgment about a particular person or circumstance. We need to cultivate positive relationships with people who can help us navigate the sometimes overwhelming negativity that is all around us.

  5. And I thought I was the only one...Wish I could drown out the negativity going on in my head sometimes. Julie - I love your attitude and appreciate your honesty in this post. It is hard trying to be one's own cheerleader, (positive) critic, boss, and peon.

  6. There is always that self-doubt in ourselves. I try not too. I'm thankful that I have friends in crafter and small business communities. They inspire, motivate and encourage me. I always tell myself that even though I work long hours, I love what I do! It's rewarding and give me a lots of flexibility.