Negativity in the moment


I had an intense shame attack earlier today. I was at an art store buying supplies and I felt out of place and way out of my depth.

I was experiencing a lot of negative self talk already, but this put it into overdrive. I spent almost an hour wandering the aisles, picturing every possible future scenario where I might feel foolish. Slowly and painstakingly, I convinced myself to pick up at least some of the supplies I needed and put them in my basket.

Standing in the checkout line feeling preemptively foolish after considering all those terrible future foolishness scenarios, I actually started rehearsing what I would say if the cashier asked about my stuff. I could say that it was for my kid, right? Because kids are allowed to be interested in art? I don’t have a kid, but…no, she’d never believe that. I could say that it’s for someone else? Like maybe I have a crazy painter friend who asked me to pick up some paint…and an easel…and a cheap palette? Maybe I could say it’s for a scavenger hunt.

All that mental energy spent. As though a cashier in an art supply store was going to look down on me or accuse me of being an impostor for buying paint.

Unlike many other times that this has happened to me, this time I recognized that I was simply experiencing a negative thought pattern. It’s like the weather. A feeling is blowing in from the east and this feeling is Shame. It does not have to change anything I do. Negativity is an experience that I am having right now and I’m just going to smile and power through it, even if that turns out to be exhausting.

Surprisingly, the cashier actually did ask me about the supplies. “Do you paint a lot?” she asked.

I hesitated, flipping through the various excuses I’d rehearsed. Then, before I’d fully decided what to do, I found myself speaking.

“Not yet,” I told her.