3 Lessons of Confession–Lead a Happier & More Productive Life

This blog is dedicated to helping writers holistically. We are more than robots sitting at a desk pounding out word count. We have hopes, dreams, fears, bad habits and baggage. Monday is dedicated to helping you guys with craft. Wednesdays is to help you build your platforms. Fridays are my choice, but I like to dedicate these blogs to helping writers with life skills. If we want to be successful authors, we have to be good at time-management, stress-management, setting goals, facing fear, etc.

I highly recommend Bob Mayer’s Warrior Writer book and workshops to provide even more tools to grow to become happy, productive, successful writing professionals. I also highly recommend expert Joy Held’s book Writer Wellness–A Writer’s Path to Health and Creativity.

But back to today’s topic…

I always have people asking me how I have the energy to get so much done.  I am not where I need to be, but I can say that I am not where I used to be and that is great news. I still struggle with organization and time-management, but I do feel I have some lessons I can pass on that might help some of you reading.

Three Lessons of Confession

Confess the Real Emotion—Name It and Claim It

One of the first things that offered me a new sense of empowerment was when I learned to confess the real emotion I was feeling.

This was almost ten years ago, but I recall one day that I just couldn’t seem to get out of bed. It was a really dark time for me. I had lost my career in sales due to a misdiagnosis (doctors thought I had epilepsy), and I was on the verge of eviction and facing having to move in with my mother. I had no energy and no real desire to do much of anything. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat and all I wanted to do was cry.

Some of you may be able to relate to my upbringing. I had a single mother who was doing all she could to keep us afloat. Thus, my brother and I were never angry, disappointed, discouraged, or overwhelmed. We only had two feelings; we were “sick” or we were “tired.” Being ill or needing more rest would never make my mom feel guilty. Thus anything negative we ever felt ended up getting pigeon-holed into one of these two categories.

It was a really bad habit to get into.

So years later I found myself still only having two “emotions”—sick or tired. My mother came over to check on me. It was like ten in the morning and I was still in bed. Not sleeping. Just staring at the ceiling and thinking of all the reasons I was a total and utter failure. My apartment was a disaster and I couldn’t bear to ask anyone for help.  I knew I needed to pack, but I just couldn’t seem to move.

My mom stood in the door, crossed her arms and asked, “Kristen, are you depressed?”

I sat up and said something that marked a moment of change in my life. I said, “You know, Mom. I would like to tell you that. I have every reason to be depressed. I have no job, no money. I am afraid of my mailbox because it is full of all these bills I can’t pay. But that isn’t it.”

“What is it, then?”

“I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know where to begin. You know what else?”


“I’m heartbroken.”

By naming the specific emotions I was feeling, I had unleashed tremendous power. I had opened a way to make a plan. As long as I was sick or tired, there was very little I could do to remedy either. And, to be honest, I wasn’t sick or tired. I was just so out of my depth that it was making me sick AND tired…all the time. I had lost a lot in three years—3 deaths in 6 months (including my father), my career, my health, my apartment, my dreams. And it was bad enough that I had lost those things, but then I never properly grieved any of those losses.

How could I? I was only sick or tired.

But this day was different. For the first time…I was heartbroken, overwhelmed, discouraged. For the first time I felt connected back to that intimate part that was…me.

This simple lesson was the first major step to a more productive life. Once I admitted that I was overwhelmed, it was easier to break big problems into manageable bites and get busy. Once I admitted out loud that I was discouraged, it freed me to dust off and try again. Suddenly, it was okay to be disappointed. I could grieve, feel the pain and then start anew. I have found that life is lived best in forward gear.

From that point on, I made it a habit to name the real emotion. It was too easy to hide behind, “Oh, I am just tired.” It took courage to say, “I am disappointed. You said you would help me with this project, but you haven’t been doing your share.”

It was scary, and still is. Naming my emotions has opened me up to possible confrontation. I suck at confrontation. It’s easier to just take a nap because I’m “tired.” I would love to tell you guys that I have been perfect in applying this. I haven’t. But, with practice, I am getting better and better.

When I hear myself saying, “Oh I don’t feel well” or “I’m just tired” I stop and ask the hard questions. What am I really feeling? What can I do to change things?

We are more healthy and productive when we focus on what we can control then refuse to worry about things we can’t. The trick is to cast our care but keep our responsibility. Too many people cast their responsibility and then keep their care.

Stop worrying about not having enough money. Focus on where we can minimize waste and save.

Stop worrying about the future of publishing. Focus on that 1000 words a day.

Stop worrying about whether our platform will be successful long-term. Focus on forging relationships.

 Confess the Real Problem

One thing I have learned is that we will never get a handle on time-management until we confess the real problem.

Oh I just cannot find the time to write.

Possible translations:

I am terrified of failure.

I don’t deserve success.

I’m overwhelmed and I don’t know where to start.

There is a problem in my story and I don’t want to admit I don’t know the answer to fixing it.

Whenever we start hearing ourselves make excuses, we need to stop and peel back the layers. What are we afraid of?

If we won’t get to the real problem, we cannot recruit help. Recently I found myself saying I didn’t have time to work on my fiction. I stopped myself and asked the tough question.

Kristen, what are you afraid of?

When I got real honest? I was afraid to delegate, and I was afraid of not being in control. I grew up taking care of everything. If I didn’t do it, it didn’t get done.

Guess what? Life is different now. I have capable people dying to help me. I needed to let them, but I was too afraid of being out of control.

The problem was that I had to make a choice. I could control everything and do everything…and not have any time left for my novel. OR I could step into my fear, face it, and take a chance that I might actually free up some time.

So, I made a list of all the things that were eating my time and I—GASP—delegated. And guess what? Not only did my world NOT blow up *round of applause* but the person I asked for help actually did a BETTER job than I ever could (Thanks, Gigi).

But the lesson I hope you guys get is that I needed to first admit the REAL problem. How can we climb over an obstacle we won’t admit is there?

Confess Your Brilliant Future

Did you know that the subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between truth and lie? That is why we need to watch what we say. It has been scientifically proven that we believe our own voice more than any other.

What are you saying about you? Your future? Is it positive?

When I was growing up my grandmother had this saying every time I screwed up, “Kristen, you just can’t stand prosperity.” Now do I think my grandmother sat up all night thinking of ways to make my life miserable? No. To her it was just a comment. Just words. Didn’t mean anything.

But, I recall years later being plagued with problem after problem and one day, I finally heard what I was saying to myself. Every time I made a mistake I said, “Kristen, you just can’t stand prosperity.”

What was my subconscious hearing…then believing?

When I learned to make positive confessions, my life began to change.

I can’t wait to be one of those writers who busts out 4000 words a day.

I still have room to grow, but I am more organized than I used to be. Every day I get better and better.

I know that persistence prevails when all else fails. Baby steps count.

The mind is a powerful thing, and we are wise to get our mind on our side. Now don’t misunderstand. We can’t think happy thoughts and that be enough. We also have to put in some sweat equity. But, we must be ever vigilant to guard our mental and spiritual state. We are not just physical creatures. 

Hard work paired with negative thinking is counter-productive. Our will is pulling the opposite direction of our work. Our will and our work are most powerful when they pull in the same direction toward the same objective.

Our will and our work must pull the same direction for forward momentum.

We cannot let our feelings rule. We rule our feelings. Every day we are wise to say aloud that we are blessed, grateful, happy, joyful…even if we don’t feel it at the time. Our body and emotions will catch up with time and practice.

If we keep saying, I’m tired, I don’t feel well, I don’t have time,  I’ll never have time to write, what future are we deciding for ourselves?

In the end, these three simple confessions have made a HUGE difference in my life.

1. Name the real emotion. It is okay to be hurt, angry, disappointed, or frustrated. If we leave the real emotion untended it is putting a Band-Aid on a boil.

2. Name the real problem. We can’t make a plan or ask for help if we avoid the hard stuff. Everything is doable if broken into smaller, manageable bites. How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time.

3. Claim a positive future. Yes, we must work hard. But we will get more mileage for our efforts if our will and our work are both on the same team.

What are some setbacks you guys have had? How did you tackle obstacles? What would be your advice? What still gives you trouble and why?

I love hearing from you! And to prove it and show my love, for the month of March, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end on March I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced) OR a blog diagnostic. I look at your blog and give feedback to improve it. For now, I will draw weekly for 5 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.


Happy writing!

Until next time…

In the meantime, if you don’t already own a copy, my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.


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  1. Ok first off, this ex-therapist is really really proud of you. You took control and owned your emotions, and recognize the power of thought. That’s something that used to drive me NUTS when I practiced…because way too many people wanted to hide behind stuff that relieves them of the onus of responsibility. Which I understood because the alternative is work, but still, was frustrating.

    For me, I think the thing I struggle the most with is RESENTMENT. I so often get consumed by it. By irritation and anger over everything I have to do that’s NOT writing, whether that’s my assorted evil day jobs or shoveling out the house or the 8 millionth load of laundry that has to be folded and put away AGAIN. It was easy for a long time to let that anger turn me into a really bitter, not happy person, which did nothing to help me move toward a life where I didn’t have some of those things I had to deal with. It wasn’t until I started looking at the positive, at what I was accomplishing toward my dream, at what those dreaded evil day jobs were allowing me to do financially that writing wasn’t yet, and at the blessings in my life that I was too apt to overlook that things really started to turn around for me.

    I mean look what I accomplished in the last year. I put out two novellas that are selling quite well, expanded my platform such that I’m becoming a person that’s cited as an indie who has a clue, and said platform landed me my dream agent–with no work on my part (at least not of the traditional variety). My brain is exploding with creative ideas and my productivity is up (with the exception of the last month). There’s serious power in the positive, and I think we’d all do good to take advantage of it.

    1. Thanks, Kait for making me not feel like such a horrible person for struggling with that Resentment issue as well. It is amazing in an unholy way how it can consume and color every aspect of your life.

      1. What’s awful about it is that often you don’t notice it until you’re OUT of it. And then you look around at your friends and family and think “why are you still here? I acted like an asshat.”

    2. Kait, your comment really jumped out at me when I read RESENTMENT. I have acknowledged my fears, but I had never realized how much resentment was involved. This really helps me! Thanks!

      Kristen, I love all your blogs, but this one was huge for me! Thank you, too, for helping me!

    3. Yep. Thanks for naming it. I resent the intrusions when I’m working. I resent people needing me. But at the same time, those people are the most important part of my life. I don’t want them to go away mad, I just want them to go away, and I want them to be there every time I take a break. Lol. How selfish is that? I’ll start looking at the positive. Great idea.

      1. I think you need a pet rock. It will always be there for you 😉

  2. I love reading posts like this, because I know they come from the truest part of your heart. I think what you’ve said here ties in well with your “feelings lie” philosophy too. That’s one that’s helped me become more consistent at writing as well as other things in my life.
    Most of us have been subconsciously taught to be subservient to our emotions, but in reality we need to do what you’ve said here: face them for what they are, and stop letting them control us.
    Thank you so much for sharing this.

  3. I’m printing this post out so I can read it to myself every morning. Thanks for laying it all on the line so that we can benefit from your experiences.

  4. Wow, Kristen. I went through half a box of Kleenex with this post. *sniffle* *blow* Okay, back to my comment…

    I agree with your “know thyself” stance. Writing is such a mental, self-directed undertaking and we’re each duking it out with our inner demons. Not knowing where and what they are is like trying to box with a blind-fold on. Bloody nose time.

    I suspect you’ll get a DELUGE of comments from this. (Brace yourself) It was certainly timely for me and really struck a chord (hence the Kleenex). I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately, pushed by my agent to grow my following and my blog. I know it needs to be done, but “how” is the question that makes me want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head. Now I have to figure out what it is about that “how” that’s scaring me – making a mistake? failing? wasting time? losing the progress I’ve made?

    I’m so glad you came out the other side of such a miserable time in your life. I’m sure there were parts that were difficult to share. Thank you!

  5. What an amazing, empowering and helpful post Kristen. I too have had huge ups and down and yes, it’s amazing how we lie to ourselves and do not want to know exactly why we feel that way. Bad things, whether emotional, financial or sickness, happen to all of us, but many of us do not want to discuss such things. We want to pretend things are fine, we do not want to delve deeper into ourselves and find out exactly what’s the matter.

    Same thing applies to our wriitng. I spent a few months deluding myself into thinking I was okay with the story I was writing, when the reality was, I wasn’t happy with the turn it had taken, but I felt I was stuck with it the way it was, because I simply didn’t think I could deal with a major revision. I sat there thinking: “I spent TWO years writing this, how can I revise or change it now?” and it took me 5 months to accept the fact I had to, if I really believed in my novel, and I do.

    As cheesy as it may sound, all these knocks that happen to us in life (or in our writing) really do makes us stronger, and wiser, as long as we’re not in denial of what is going on.
    Thank you for the great advice!

  6. I do think we put energy out into the world, either positive or negative, depending on our mood. And that energy has an effect.

  7. I think hungry and tired might be the titles I give too many of my emotions. (And maybe that’s why it’s so difficult for me to just eat less and move more — and why I get so frustrated when people suggest a a supposedly easy weight loss fix.) Great post Kristen. I e-mailed the link to like 3 people and then you gave me a brilliant incentive to do more — FACEBOOK! (Why didn’t I think of it before I put the energy into all those separate e-mails?!)

    Great post — as always.


  8. Great….wait, I used that before…Amazing…humm, used that before too….Mesmerizing, yeah that’s the ticket, mesmerizing. I was totally engulfed in the blog while reading it. You always seem to find the sweet spot in your blogs Kristen. They ring true because they are. Keep ’em coming….oh like anyone could stop you if they tried. 😉

  9. Congrats on being picked, Jen McQ!

  10. Great advice! And, absolutely true. I can tell a difference in my writing and progress (and basically everything else) depending on the direction of my thoughts. I’m not quite where you are, but I’m making progress. And, like you said, I’m not where I once was. 🙂 BTW, I’ve posted a link to your blog from mine.

    • Laura Lee Nutt on March 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm
    • Reply

    Wow, Kristen, what a great, uplifting post. This is the sort I send to more than just my writer friends. I loved the way you worded all this, and your lovely heart and soul just hummed in this post. Wonderful!

  11. Kristen…thank you. I’ve known the “own the real emotion” reality for a long time, but I still needed reminding. I have a novel I’m supposed to be revising, after getting some folks to read and respond to my manuscript. I’ve been looking at the thing for 3 months, and have only gotten through Chapter 3. Why? Because I’m disappointed and hurt. I asked a very specific group of people, for specific reasons, if they would read my manuscript during the time I was back in the states in January and give me that all-important feedback. I printed and bound copies for the ones who responded affirmatively and then waited for the responses to pour in. I sent out 7 manuscripts. 2 came back to me. The rest haven’t been touched (I’ve asked). It hurt that these people, who actually agreed before I gave out the copies, who I trusted to be conscientious and interested in my work, did not fulfill their promises. It disappointed me and made me feel like I wasn’t terribly important. Ouch. It seems that I don’t respond terribly well to personal disappointment from people who confess to be my friends. I’ve been quietly throwing a little pity party for myself (which is not my usual habit) and allowing that to keep me from really digging into the daunting task of revision. Thank you for making me take a look at my own ‘crap’ and admit just what has been bugging me. I’m disappointed and hurt, and feel frustrated that the people I asked for help didn’t help. That makes my novel something painful for me, thus I’ve avoided it. Well, guess what? It’s not my or my novel’s fault that people didn’t fulfill their promises. Neglecting my work is punishing me and my novel… Not productive! Not helpful! Gar!

    I am going to go pick up that manuscript and get busy. Thank you.

    • Heather L. Cohen on March 11, 2011 at 8:24 pm
    • Reply

    Kristen, as a newbie, I am really loving your posts. You discuss the many shades of writerhood with such breadth AND depth.

    I needed this post today. Having just begun to delve into this field of writing that I always knew I would get to “someday,” I am find myself standing here, unarmed, trying to stare down my greatest demons. Well, HAHAHA to that…. ;-P

    So I will just share the saying I am mulling over today: “When you say ‘yes’ to any one thing, you are invariably saying ‘no’ to something else”. Yup. Definitely. And my writing gets the “no” by default. My M.O. from childhood (from birth?) is to continually overload my plate. This has given me a fabulous life, but will leave me cold where my greatest passion….writing!…..is concerned.

    So Spring Break has begun. I sit here (pen and pad at the ready) prepared to prune and prune some more so that this beautiful thing…my writing life…can grow. I will have to make many cuts….mostly to my own random aspirations….all for the one.

    Ah, but it does take a while for these things to travel from the mind to the heart….and from the heart to the hands and feet…… It will, as ever, be a one day at a time thing. Looking forward walking this journey with you all! Heather

  12. What a wonderful post. Your three prescriptions really spoke to me.

    My problem is perfectionism – having trouble starting when I know I can’t possibly get it ‘right’. Of course not – because perfect is not possible. But neither it is a good excuse. Thanks for reminding me of the power of naming a problem to reduce it’s hold.

  13. kristen, some times a word/group of words, make a thing visible, a thing that’s been hiding right in front of our face all along. for example, the REAL EMOTIONS that you talk about here, that hid behind either the “contextual” tiredness OR ilness.

    this has been a powerful post. thanks so much. it’s amazing how so many people can go through similar things, growing up. in my case, using kleenex perhaps would hurt the trees, ’cause “one or two boxs in one go?” just ain’t fair. so ima go with a towel. (and then throw it away…)

    thnx again ~

  14. Please climb out of my brain and posting all the things I need to hear. It’s very triggering and I need to save Kleenex money.

    Seriously? Every post of yours that I read lately is so inspiring and so relevant to what I’m feeling that I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for knowing you. Thank you for being my hero and holding that mirror up.

  15. My problem has been fear — what if I’m just not good enough to see my dream come true? What if I write the best novel I’m capable of, and it doesn’t get published? Worse (I think), what if I publish one and it tanks and my writing career goes down the drain? Or what if I’m not good enough to do any kind of justice to the stories in my head?

    Discovering NaNoWriMo in 2005 got me out of fear-induced paralysis once; I still do NaNo every year for the creative rush and the momentum of the community. Since then, I’ve occasionally had to regroup and rethink what I’m doing. I’ve given myself gold stars on my calendar for every day that I write, until writing became a habit outside of November. I’ve written fanfiction and flash fiction when my original novels are too daunting. I’ve sought out readers who will tell me that my story is great — in addition to my critique group, who won’t. ;-)Lately I’ve turned my blog-reading focus away from agent blogs and on to craft and marketing blogs — things I can work on improving, things I can control.

    I still struggle with self-doubt. One of my biggest stumbling blocks is the Internet. If I spend most of my evening online, I don’t have to work my hardest on writing, which means I don’t have to find out if my best is good enough. I can even tell myself that I’m researching, or networking, so it’s okay. But the truth is that nothing will get those words written except writing.

  16. Very powerful post! Thank you! I struggle with claiming my emotions too. Sometimes I feel guilty for having a feeling when there’s so much that needs doing and so many people who need me. Of course, I’m no good to them if I’m a mess.

  17. Kristen,

    You and I are on the same wavelength. As a many-times published novelist, I can say honestly that fear, anxiety and depression made me late on several novels. It doesn’t go away once one is print-published. One has to deal with fear and feelings of unworthiness after, and these emotions will wreak havoc until they’re NOTICED and RESOLVED. Your advice is very, very wise.
    I have readers that think everything I publish is great. For years, I was embarrassed by my books–I thought I wasn’t good enough, even when the 5-star reviews started coming in. I discounted my accomplishments constantly.
    When I faced the emotions sabotaging my career, that’s when they lost their power. And I acknowledged them.
    Instead of fighting them, though, I took the Zen approach of welcoming them and asking them what they had to teach me. Now, when the emotions appear, they rattle me less; I smile at them and move on to the business at hand. I also don’t judge them as “bad.” They just are. Not good or bad, just there, and now I realize they’ll fade if I don’t grasp at them, but just breathe and pay attention to the writing.
    Thank you so much for this resonant, honest and helpful post!

  18. You are an inspiration Kristen; I love the way you get down to “brass tacks” and say it like it is. I appreciate truth, even if it hurts.
    I struggle with fear – fear of not feeling good enough, fear of feeling I have nothing interesting to say, fear of the unknown. As you see, I struggle with self-confidence, but I know it and am getting better slowly but surely – the old hare and tortoise story – me being the tortoise. One thing in my favor? I have lots f patience and persistence, I’m a plodder and will eventually get there!
    Thanks for a very powerful and meaningful post Kristen.

  19. Thank you so much Kristen for your honesty and encouragement. I really needed this today for many areas of my life, not just writing. I seem to write the most when I feel encouraged but if I begin to doubt my work I’m afraid to write. I’m afraid of criticism and that my book won’t be perfect. I’m afraid of rejection. I’ve just started calling myself a writer and only those few closest to me take it seriously. It’s hard taking a stand like that because what if I fail? I believe my story needs to be told anyways and I’m determined to finish it. This powerful story is the only reason I’ve decided to write and it’s worth the pain. Blogs like yours help me to keep going.
    God Bless!

  20. I really enjoyed this post and I’ve had a bad day so I needed to read it. You are so right about confronting your demons and thinking positive. I was brought up in a very negative home, so I have to battle negative thoughts every day.

  21. Good stuff Kristen. I like people who think about why things are the way they are. Sometimes we can give loads of advice but when we’re the ones in the swamp and the water’s risen to our necks, perspective can be a tough thing to find.

    Time can be invested or wasted. That’s how I feel anyway. I’m a big believer in visualization. I put pictures in front of me as reminders of how I want to be, what I want to accomplish, how I want to look, all of it.

    • writerwellness on March 12, 2011 at 3:11 am
    • Reply

    Give yourself a hug for me, Kristen. We cannot let our feelings rule, but we can face them and put them to good use. I do this in my journals. Journaling doesn’t have to be a time sucking monster, but a safe place to write as little or as much as we need for that day’s feelings. One bite at a time means one journal page at a time to me. It’s a lot cheaper than therapy and the stock provided for future writing is invaluable. Be well, write well.

  22. I love this post. I think I’m pretty good at identifying my emotions (most of the time) but there are times when I feel overwhelmed by things and at a loss for what to do…. then given enough thinking time I usually pick myself up and dust myself off and say “Ok – what can I *DO* to fix X.” That quality was one of the things that my now husband admired and remarked upon when we were dating.

    I get knocked down… but I get up again… you’re never going to keep me down

    There are times you react to life and times when you take the lead… I always prefer to lead 🙂

  23. *breathes a heavy sigh of relief* To read the words, “I feel disappointed” changed me. I’ve never been able to say this, even though I’ve felt it. Your words have helped me with my own. I was just thinking about prepping for the writing conference I’m going to and thought, huh, I should ask them how they find the time to write. And my inner voice replied back, they don’t work the hours you do, it’s easier for them, or if they do, they’ll just say get up earlier, and I’d LIKE to, but I just can’t get up in the mornings. What I really feel is that I am overwhelmed. I’m trying to give 110% of myself in every role, and I constantly feel like I’m behind, or not using my time wisely. I know there isn’t a magic answer, but somehow putting the right words to what I’m really feeling gives me power. It is the first step towards making a change in my life, and that’s why I started blogging, as a way to document my happiness project. Thank you Kristen. You’ve given us all permission, and sometimes that’s all we need.

  24. Setbacks… there was a ten year period in my life where I was just depressed. I’ve reached the point where I was past beyond caring. I was in an psychologically abusive relationship, I don’t have a lot of friends, and I’m numb. Basically, I don’t deal with my emotions.

    Someone forced me into counseling and somehow, I let go of everything–10 years of anger, sadness, and guilt. That was the turning point in my life. I learned that I should face my emotions as they come to me instead of ignoring them. Otherwise, it negatively affect my quality of life.

    I’m still dealing with wanting to write more than I was writing right now. And I want to edit faster. I’m getting there but I find my style painfully slow. I know I’ll get there, but still, it’s slow.

  25. Thanks for a peek into your past. It’s easy to think that successful people have always been successful. But most haven’t. Everyone walks through their own dark days. Which is extremely encouraging for those of us walking in them now.

  26. Ah, Kristen, how do you do it? You push the right button at the right time and the bell sounds, buzzer goes off! Another post that speaks to the heart and soul. I have been in abusive relationships (notice the plural) where my self esteem was ground down to nothing. Then I woke up one morning and decided I didn’t care. I didn’t care what he said, or what he did. I then started to plot a palace coup. It took three more years of hell, but, I succeeded and it changed my life. Now I have a wonderful loving husband and my children are very happy.

    I had to claim the emotion “Fear of Failure”. Failure of another relationship, failure to be as smart as my talented brother, failure to be beautiful enough to keep his attention, failure to have the life I wanted. I finally conquered my fear, stuffed it in a locker and welded it shut.

    But, sometimes, the devil sticks his head back out and I just get out the welding torch again.

    Thank you again for all you do.

  27. Great post.

    The easiest choice in my family of origin was always anger. If we’d ever been honest with one another, (as if), much of the time we were, in fact, feeling hurt. It takes a lot of trust in another person to tell them their words or actions have hurt you — because what happens if, (as does happen), they deny it, blame you or just don’t care?

    It does take self-awareness and real guts to break out of these patterns. I realized a long time ago that whenever I am “bored” I am in fact frustrated in my attempts to do something or get somewhere….I’m bored WITH being blocked.

  28. I was very good at not dealing with my thoughts and emotions. I would hold everything in and have a few secret thoughts I wouldn’t allow to get to the surface. I would never cry in front of people. I was very good at keeping a straight face and not allowing anyone to know what I was truly thinking or feeling. I was very good at pretending things didn’t bother me.

    All of this changed when I got married. Immediately, on my honeymoon, I had this terrible feeling that something was off. When I got home, I decided to investigate. After 4 weeks, I filed for an annulment. I discovered through my investigation that our entire relationship was a complete lie.

    During this traumatic event, I felt every single emotion a person can feel all at the same time. Not only that, the whole world knew and I would get these looks from people. People would walk on eggshells around me. Conversations would come to a halt, cause “oops!!! we shouldn’t talk about this in front of her”. It was completely overwhelming.

    I, however, was way to stubborn to allow him to win. I had to tell so many people about my story. I had to deal with their reactions, their disbelief, people thinking I was just joking, people not being able to comprehend how I didn’t know, but not realizing they were duped as well. The entire world knew every last tidbit. I no longer had any sort of privacy, which made me cringe. Yet, I still didn’t cry.

    This was a turning point for me. I realized that my thoughts and feelings that I kept hidden are real. I wasn’t being stupid, silly, or ridiculous. There were a few thoughts I let myself push aside that may have led me to the truth sooner had I just listened. I had a tendency to question or doubt things only to allow someone else to make me think I was just being silly.

    After this, I followed my instincts. I would still let some things go, but I wouldn’t let them be forgotten and eventually I would use my voice. (Like you, I’m not a fan of conflict). I would say how I felt and how I thought. I gotten so much better at allowing myself to feel. I’ve become so much more vocal than I ever was. I don’t allow fear to get in my way, even when I’m scared to death.

    There are times when I do let laziness get in the way. Like right now, I’m tired. I’m tired because I’ve been sitting here all day deciding on what I should be doing, yet doing nothing. I want to do something, but my mind is just so tired. I’m tired of thinking about relationships, about my new big boss, about how my work atmosphere is going to change, about how I should just pick up the pencil and draw, or read the book, or write, and about my mom’s change in her job (not good), etc.

    I’m tired because I have all these things I should be dealing with, but I’m not sure how to deal with them, so being tired is just easier. But, it doesn’t make me feel better. So, after I post this comment, I’m going to get my paper and pencils and draw! 🙂

  29. Hi Kristin! I am a newbie to your blog, and excited (and a little bit floored) to have won this week’s 5 page critique. Looking forward to sending it to you, hoping you will contact me and let me know how. jenmcq@live.com

    Thanks so much, enjoying your posts so far!

  30. Kristen,

    I always enjoy your blogs, but this one particularly resonated for me. As a former life/success coach, I know the importance of naming your real emotions. And Iwell know that self talk can change your life. Yet recently I’ve been ignoring all that and having far too many days were I’m “sick and tired”, where I just “don’t have time to write today”. Since I’m coming out of a period of physical illness and a small surgery, it would have been so easy for me to stick with being a victim of my own self talk. Thanks so much for the very timely reminder that there is a better way.

    All my best, and keep writing,

  31. Hi: I liked reading this a lot, but I wonder if ‘naming’ emotion is entirely sufficient in confronting problems. These words we use for emotion, from love to heart-brokenness are so – I don’t know – myopic in communicating those emotions. The word is so much smaller in more insignificant than the feeling. That’s why we write, isn’t it? To surround these forces with cyclones of words in an effort to contain and describe them.

    1. Yes, you are dead-on correct. We do have an opportunity to use our writing to explore our emotions and better name them. Thanks for a great observation :D.

  32. There is so much here I identify with – it took a long time for me to confront my grief issues for what they were, and naming the real problem was a watershed moment for me. A moment that lasted about two years, admittedly, but it was the key to completely remaking (rediscovering) my life.

    I’m in grad school, newly divorced, selling my writing and blogging — things are rough, because I’ve been unemployed for nearly a year now, and money isn’t coming in much from anywhere. But you are right, the brain is a powerful thing, and I need to remember to confess my future every day, not only to others but too myself. Thanks so much for this wonderful, insightful, and important post.

    • Joanna Aislinn on March 13, 2011 at 2:35 pm
    • Reply

    All your blogs are excellent, Kristin, but this one was awesome. Mental wellness is so tremendously underrated and impacts us every day whether we realize it or not. One is expected to paste on that smile and carry on no matter what the issue. (Part of my occupational therapy training was in the area of mental health–still strikes me how very sick those patients were, despite lack of ‘physical’ signs more common to physical illnesses/conditions. Makes it that much harder to get by when the world figures one can just ‘get over it’ and move on.)

    I loved ‘naming the emotion’ specifically-what a difference it makes when one can identify a given emotion then start piecing out the return to balance from there.

    Thank you for sharing this and to everyone who comments. Wish I could get through every single response for every one of your posts. So much is available here to those who open themselves to learn.

    Joanna Aislinn
    Dream. Believe. Strive. Achieve!
    The Wild Rose Press

  33. Great post, Kristen. Thanks for being so honest about your own journey. Hearing other people admit to negative feelings makes it easier to be honest with myself about mine.

    I love the consistent way you don’t just identify problems, you give tools with which to turn those problems into positives. Thanks for the time and effort you put into your work.

  34. This is an inspiring post…& arrived in my inbox on the exact day that it needed to.

  35. I loved this. My motto has always been to “call a spade a spade” but beyond having a motto, or holding certain values, there is always this undertow that we can easily get sucked into, and that’s how we get sucked back into old mental habits and patterns.We need voices, like yours, that remind us to identify what is really bothering us, what is really eating away at us–what has caused us to lose steam?? Then comes the good stuff: liberation, revelation….the light bulb goes on and we take off down the runway. We learn to move onward.

    Thanks for telling it straight!

  1. […] “3 Lessons of Confession” by Kristen Lamb […]

  2. […] Lamb’s 3 Lessons of Confession–Lead a Happier & More Productive Life.  How we need to be true to ourselves if we are to receive true […]

  3. […] found this post by Kristen Lamb on being honest with your emotions to be illuminating–well worth the […]

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