Stop Putting Yourself Down {Amanda’s Discussion}

Posted 9 May, 2014 by Amanda / 46 Comments


Book bloggers are incredibly negative about themselves.

I see this all the time, but Bout of Books brings out this tendency in full force. Maybe because I’m actually paying attention. During #boutofbooks 9.0, I started the phrase “Flailing, not failing” to combat some of the negativity I saw.

Full confession: I hate listening to people talk about how they’ve failed. It makes me want to throw things because 99.9% of the time, they’re not failing. They’re just being negative because they didn’t get to do what they wanted to do. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself and have a little fun.

But that’s not what this post is about.

This post is a demand to stop putting yourself down

Stop saying, “I’m a bad blogger” because you didn’t post when you wanted to.

You’re not. You’re a blogger who decided real life or relaxation took priority over blogging, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Because sometimes you need to take time for yourself or you’ll burn out and hate blogging.

Stop saying, “I’m a slow reader” because someone reads more books than you.

When did it become a contest to see who could read more books? Some people read faster. Some people have more time to read. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. It’s not a fucking contest.

Stop saying, “I’m the last person on earth to read this book.”

You’re NOT. There is not a single book on earth that every person but you has read. (And let’s not forget all the people in the world who can’t even read.) Saying this makes a huge deal out of something that isn’t. On that note…

Stop saying, “I’m a terrible reader” because you haven’t read the latest book “everyone” is talking about.

There’s no list of books you’re required to read if you want to call yourself a “good reader.” Read what you want. Put a book on your library list or wishlist if you think you should read a book. Get to it when you have time. And DON’T feel guilty for it.

None of these statements builds a positive, happy community

When my Twitter stream is full of people putting themselves down, all I want to do is stop interacting and start reading a book. Which is fine for my TBR pile, but not so great for my relationship with the book blogging community.

Who wants to listen to a bunch of people whine about everything that isn’t going the way they want it? I don’t.

How you talk about yourself affects how people perceive you

I often see people talking about how they wish they could X or they wish they had more time for Y. And that’s fine. I get that we often don’t have the time or inclination to do something.

But the more you express your wish for the same thing (e.g., I wish I was more organized) and never do anything about it, the more it looks like you’ll never accomplish it. That you’re all whiny talk and no action.

In other words, stop talking about what you want to change. Just change it. If you can’t (if you’re just not organized and never will be), embrace it. You’re not like everyone else and that’s a GOOD thing.

More importantly, how you talk about yourself and the world affect how you perceive the world

If you want it to, the world will always shit on you. By focusing on the positive—by finding something to be happy about in any situation, even the not so great ones—you’ll be a happier, healthier person. You’ll find the world doesn’t shit on you; it throws you down a certain path to teach you a lesson that’ll help you later in life.

What’s something about yourself that you’re proud of? Go on, celebrate yourself.

Filed under: Discussion,


46 Responses to “Stop Putting Yourself Down {Amanda’s Discussion}”

  1. So very true. I must say that since becoming a book blogger I have read more than ever before, thought about it more critically and engaged in more conversations about books. I’m proud of what i have achieved. Overall, i think the book blogging community is very supportive, and yet we are all very hard on ourselves. The funny thing is, we aren’t hard on each other.

    • Exactly! I think if we treated ourselves as nicely as we treated each other, we’d all be happier. And Tanya, I’m with you—book blogging made me read more than ever too. :D

  2. GUILTY AS CHARGED. For me, the negative talk about myself is something I do in real life and in blogging. Like, lol, at my job I work with a lot of therapists and whenever I do it, they call me on it, or as they call it “negative self-talk” and like before I wasn’t really aware that I did it, but now I am so I try to stop doing that. But yeah, I don’t know, I guess it’s hard to change the habit and it’s not an overnight thing to stop being so negative about yourself. At least for me, it’s a long road and it’s going to be a long road. Ah well.

    • I should probably admit that I’m sensitive to negative self-talk precisely because I struggle with it myself. I don’t post about it on social media, and that’s a step in the right direction because it forces me not to stay in that mindset. I have to think of something else, something better to post.

      Being negative about yourself is often a smaller part of being negative in general, and negativity is an extremely difficult habit to break. I’ve spent the past eight years trying to break myself of the habit, and while I’m mostly successful, I still have my bad days.

      But you know what? You can do it. We can do it.

  3. You are SO right! I’ve been doing this a lot more in the past month (though mostly in my head) because of BEA. I’m not a big blog, I don’t have a ton of contacts in the publishing arena and, because of this, I’m not getting the slew of invitations that many of my bloggy friends are. It’s at this point that my brain starts with the “If onlys” and I have to stop it. Get over it. Go out and see NYC. Eat somewhere awesome. Breathe deep and enjoy the experience. That’s my current mantra and I’m trying to move past the self-created negativity and just enjoy what comes my way. GREAT post, as always, doll!

    • And often times, we have a skewed perception of our own popularity. (And it goes both ways. Sometimes we’re like, “This is going to rock!” and then it flops.)

      Focusing on enjoying the experience may go a long way toward establishing contacts and getting invitations, too. There is something to be said for being open to any possibility, and it’s hard to do that when you’re huddled in a corner of your mind whispering about how you know no one.

      Go have fun, Mary! :D

      • I WILL!! And thanks. :) I always have fun there, whether it’s at a party or sitting on a park bench, reading an awesome new book. Just having a whiney moment. Perhaps I need a Twitter break. There is such a thing as too much information, after all!

        • Twitter breaks can be surprisingly refreshing. I think maybe because we don’t realize how draining social media can be. With @BookBender, it’s mostly negativity. With @amshofner, it’s a lot of selling and marketing. Both get old after a while. ;)

  4. YES AMANDA! There is definitely a lot of negativity in this community, and most of it is directed inward. For reasons I can’t explain, blogging is highly competitive, and at some point or another everyone seems to get caught up in stat comparisons and the like. That happened to me in the beginning, and since I’ve let that go a bit the last two years, I’ve been way happier. My blog is what it is and I’m good with that. There are things I could do to improve it, but I’m damn lazy, so that’s likely not going to happen. Oh well:)

    • I do think comparisons are a part of human nature—it’s how we learn where we belong. But we almost always take it too far and turn it into negativity and putting ourselves down.

      Three cheers for being lazy. I’m getting there myself. And learning to embrace it. :)

  5. I realized that I had come to a pretty good mental place for blogging when I was actually happy about not having a post prepared for a Tuesday a while ago, since the reason I didn’t have anything was because I had hung out with friends/did real life things instead. I was proud that I was okay with putting real life in front of blogging for one day ;-)

    • *high fives* That’s a pretty good mental place to be in! Sometimes we need that blogging break—especially when it’s spending time with friends. :D

  6. What a wonderful, insightful post! I just recently shrugged off any pressure I was putting on myself to post more, read THIS book, read more, etc. My blog is my happy space of the internet and nobody is expecting me to more than I am (and screw them if they are). There is no right way to be a blogger or a reader. It makes me sad when I see people put so much pressure on themselves to keep up with this blogger or that one. Blogging, for me, is a hobby. Nothing more. It’s something I do because it makes me happy, and the minute it doesn’t is when I need to find a new one. Again, great post!

  7. Jason

    I am sharing this list because it applies to life, not just book blogging. These are truly words to live by and can be adapted to any situation. Thank you for posting!

  8. Yes! I strongly believe I’m a laid back reader. I’m also a fast reader, so that gives me more time to do other stuff that I want to do. If I suddenly want to take a week off, I do and I don’t care. I don’t always read the latest books and if I do it’s probably by accident. I usually just grab whatever’s on my shelf that looks good and I use to select my next eRead for me. I feel like I get a good mix of reviews on my blog that way.

    • I used to pay attention to new releases, but once I started using my library more, it became less of an issue. Plus, it’s freeing to read whatever I please. :)

  9. This is an awesome post, Amanda! I know what you mean about negativity. There was this one book blogger I stopped following on Twitter because it honestly felt like she was just bitching all the time. And that is exhausting, reading about that.

    That’s not the say that I’ve said negative things before. I’m sure I’m guilty of saying something like “it took me forever to read such and such a book.” And I know there are some days that I feel like I just didn’t get read what I wanted to get read. But I try to balance that out with positive stuff, too.

    And I do think that being negative all the time can affect how you are perceived by others, and I think it is easy to get in the habit of always being negative, which is not good at all!

    • I think it’s easy to be negative—far easier than it is to be positive. I have a guideline where if I follow someone on Twitter and the only tweets I see from them are negative, I usually check their Twitter feed. If all their tweets are similar to the ones I’ve seen, I unfollow them. I understand how easy it is to slide into negativity because I struggle with it myself, but I also make a point not post out it on Twitter.

      Being negative isn’t what makes it bad—it’s what we do with the negativity that counts.

  10. We all do these things because we hear about so many great books that we want to read all at the same time. Sometimes we don’t get to read a certain book for a long time and it is just a little sad because you look forward to so many books you feel bad for leaving any book behind. I know I’m not a fast reader and I don’t pretend to read fast. I also know I don’t have a lot of time to read but I always wish for more time lol.

    Great discussion

    • I hear about so much good food that I want to eat, but I can’t eat all of it. I don’t call myself a “terrible eater” because of it. I understand wanting to read books and being sad you can’t get to all of them, but getting upset about it doesn’t solve any problems. The point is to be positive. It’s not a game of who’s a fast reader or who’s not fast—it’s about doing what we love when we can. The point is to be happy with what you have and what you do.

  11. I haven’t encountered it that much yet (but I’m new in the community), but when I’ve seen it, I feel the same as you! It’s not a contest, it’s for fun!

    Talking yourself down is something that people to way too often anyway. Expectations by others and by yourself can be so high for (young) people this day and age. Everyone has to “excell”. Which is impossible! (not just in life, also in statistics)

  12. Jan

    So true, so very true! And a well-timed post too – I’ve been catching up with the blogs today and so many posts I come across are talking about Bout of Books and how many books they’re going to read this week. I always think I’m a fast reader and I know the point of this readathon is to read more than normal but looking at how many books people were planning on reading, I was like ‘Wow, there’s no way I could read that much in a week!’ But now, after reading your post I’m going to say ‘WHO CARES?!’ So what if I can’t read as much as the next person, I read as often as I can and I love it when I do, and that’s all that matters! Thanks for the post! :-)

    • Yessss. Purposely timed. ;) And absolutely: who cares how much you read? We’re happy that you’re reading. (And if real life gets in the way, that’s okay too.) How much you read doesn’t matter as long as you’re having fun. :)

  13. I tell people all the time that I’m a slow reader and I am so happy with my reading habits that I’m ok with it. If I could read one page and it took me an hour (hi, lit theory class in college) – I’m happy with that because READING. :)

    • I’m still not a fan of hearing “slow reader.” I always think, “Slow compared to what?” I read faster than my mom, but slower than my friend, so am I a slow or a fast reader? I’m just a reader. Who loves reading. No qualifiers necessary. :)

  14. Seriously yes! The negativity…I’m sure we’re all guilty of it at one point or another but I think focusing on the fun and what you want to do instead of the negative you’re failing feelings is better. There is so much jealousy floating around sometimes over arcs that its stifling. Some people work full time and try to maintain a blog and you just can’t read as much if you’re working, raising kids, and doing all this other stuff and still trying to run a blog that is essentially a part to full time job as well. Everyone should take a chill pill and just love it for the hobby that it is and hobbies are supposed to be fun. Interacting with other cool booky people, fun. No one likes a wittle whiner. =P

    FULL STEAM AHEAD!! back to work *bah*

  15. Muse

    Such wise words and yes events such as Bout-of-Books do tend to bring out this tendency – especially about reading speeds/times and the like. I have to squish it in myself despite my self-awareness.

    • Yup. And that’s just the thing. It’s easy for ALL of us to get caught up in it. We have to be extra careful about it—but it’s worth it in the end. :D

  16. This wake up call couldn’t have come at a better time for me! I’ve been having a very hectic few months and feeling generally pulled in all directions which has meant my reading has taken a back seat. It was starting to get me really down, and I started to be guilty of nearly all the things you talk about here. Instead of being happy with the reading/blogging I could do I focussed on all the planned reading/blogging I wasn’t doing. All that did was encourage me to be more and more negative. Now I’m realising how much I love reading again, since I have more time for it and I can’t believe how much energy I wasted beating myself up about it!!

    • Yes! That’s exactly it, Kathy. When we focus on what’s going wrong, we miss what’s going right—like being able to read! Being negative requires SO. MUCH. energy.

  17. Something I am proud of: I work very hard to achieve my goals.

    Yesterday for Bout of Books, I was at 100 pages read but had a goal of 200. It was around 9 pm. I could have given up and complained about how I wasn’t going to pass my goal and pout about it, but instead, I did a few sprints and ending up reading 61 pages over my goal!

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