Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
August 2007
Get Off the Train

Nothing can extinguish joy like a harsh inner critic or judge. About six weeks ago, a relentless inner voice took over and tried to convince me that because I’m neither Mary Oliver nor David Whyte, I must stink as a poet. Matter of fact, this voice had me believing that I’m not a poet at all. Need I add that my Joy-Meter was at about a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10? Each attempt to write a new poem, or revise an old draft yielded more self-doubt and hence an inclination to forget about ever writing poetry again. Now don’t even TRY to convince me that you’ve never battled these demons … whether in creative endeavors, sports, work projects, or parenting!

The Joy-Meter goes up a notch or two just realizing that these challenges are normal. Virtually everyone has “been there, done that,” and in some cases, it’s over and over again. But just because it’s normal to take a ride on the self-critic train doesn’t mean you have to stay on board ‘til the end of the line! First, you have to recognize the extent to which you’ve put yourself on the train. Second, you have to feel deep motivation to find your way to an exit! Third, you may need help …

Summon Your Outer Cheerleader

A lot of smart people say “it’s an inside job,” and ultimately, this is probably true. But sometimes the inside job is like a car battery that needs a jump start. I found that by talking with others about the challenges of being a novice poet, I got some great support. You have to be wise in your search for an Outer Cheerleader (or two or three!). This person does not have to be an expert in the area where your critic inside is beating you up. For example, I talked with a couple of people who by no means think of themselves as experts on writing, let alone poetry. Nonetheless, the conversations yielded great relief.


Talk Back!

When I was a kid, my sister evoked the wrath of my father for talking back to our mother. No sassing allowed! While your harsh inner voice may sound like a parent or a particularly critical teacher or coach, the difference is that we’re not kids any more! I hereby offer permission to you to talk back to that voice, be it in your journal, or in “conversation” while driving solo on the freeway, or in the shower. With very little effort, you can probably poke holes in the faulty, fear-based thinking of your judge. Engage in a full-fledged war of words, if you must, and make sure you match decibels and insults! It can be verrrrrrry satisfying!


Shake It Off

For a brief story about some advice I got from a beloved cheerleader. Read more...


Since You Asked …

Several readers have asked if they could share this newsletter with someone … YES! PLEASE! You would give me great joy if you helped me expand my readership! At the bottom of this page, you’ll see a “Forward email” link in blue ink. If you click that link, you’ll see it’s quite easy to send this on to someone else. If you want, please encourage them to subscribe, by sending an e-mail to . This newsletter subscription is 100% free; all it “costs” is the time and energy you choose to invest in bringing joy back to your life.


Joy-Gram for August

Make it a priority to spend time with one of your Outer Cheerleaders. Do lunch. Take a walk. Pick up the phone.


Martha Clark Scala, MFT 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303

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