Connect With Your Thoughts
In the “Science of Getting Rich,” Wallace Wattles proclaims, "To think according to appearances is easy; to think truth regardless of appearances is laborious and requires the expenditure of more power than any other work we are called upon to perform." (The Science of Getting Rich).
Taking that extra moment to question your assumptions about what you're seeing and choosing to think something different is a powerful skill.
If I see someone frowning at me and decide they don't like me, I may approach that person with an unfriendly attitude. If I see someone frowning, decide that they're unhappy and approach with the desire to help, I'll get a completely different result.
1. Imagine that you've planned to call and find out the submission deadline of a contest and you notice an inner voice telling you that you've probably missed it, and probably couldn't win anyway, so you don't call.
Imagine that you notice that you're afraid to call and find out the submission deadline of a contest and you decide to do it anyway.
2. Imagine that you're working on a new piece and you hear your inner critic second-guess your creative choices. Not sure which is the best choice, you become overwhelmed by indecision and paralyzed by feelings of unworthiness. You walk away from the piece.
Imagine that you notice that your inner critic is active, second-guessing your creative choices. You take a deep breath, remind yourself that this happens often when you're working on a new piece, and keep on going. Soon the voice is quiet again and before long you've progressed with your work.
Our critical and negative thoughts can be VERY loud at times. What can possibly drown them out and keep us going? Action! Action provides evidence contrary to what the inner critic tells us.
In the above examples, you chose to take action in spite of the negative thoughts tempting you towards procrastination, inertia or just plain giving up.
Every choice we make is like a strategic move in our chess game with the inner critic. When we choose to keep our commitments to ourselves and to others, we provide evidence against what the inner critic tells us, we establish new patterns of success and confidence and we feel great!
When we choose not to keep our commitments to ourselves and to others, when we don't work to break through the roadblocks to creativity, we erode our confidence, fuel our inner critic and we feel terrible.
Where do these negative thoughts come from in the first place? Here are three explanations:
Gremlin. Richard Carson, the author of "Taming your Gremlin," introduced a concept that is now widely used in coaching and other helping professions. The gremlin is a more complex version of the "inner critic.”
Our gremlins are formed early in life, and their sole purpose is to protect us and to clarify and make sense out of all of the information that is rushing towards us at any given moment. The only problem is that HOW they protect us and HOW they interpret that information is usually based on outdated parameters that no longer apply.
We can fall prey to various types of distorted thinking, usually resulting in negative thoughts and feelings and hindering our ability to take action towards growth and success.
From thinking we can read other people's minds or predict the future, to trying to be perfect or expecting others to be, or to seeing ourselves as a "fraud" or "imposter" instead of the talented artist we are, we can be as creative with how we distort our thoughts as we are in our other creative work.
Fear. It can be very freeing to recognize the basic fears that are at the root of basically all of our negative and distorted thinking; fear of financial ruin leading to poverty or even death, fear of not fitting in, fear of not being a useful member of society or fear of never achieving our life's goals and purpose.
You can enlist your inner critic as a helpful team member, pointing out your specific fears so you can get them out in the open, deal with them, and ACT in spite of them.
How to keep your thoughts from working against you
1. Set-up your thoughts in the morning. Spend some time thinking about what kind of day you'd like to have. Imagine yourself resilient in response to unseen challenges ahead, and what you'd LIKE to do in response to some challenging situations that MAY arise.
2. Borrow inspiration from others. Make use of those who've come before you, and what they created in the moments THEY were most inspired. Spend time with articles, books, quotes, artwork and/or songs that get you thinking in a positive light.
3. Notice your thoughts. This is from “Taming Your Gremlin” by Richard Carson. Simply notice when you have a self-criticizing or negative thought. You don’t have to act on it, dwell on it, believe it, argue with it or rationalize it. Simply notice it.
4. Replace your negative thought with the TRUTH. If the thought you're having now is making you feel terrible, find a new one! What would someone who loves you tell you about the thought you're having? Now show yourself that love and tell yourself!
5. Watch out for lifestyle habits that can weigh down your thinking. Fatigue, poor nutrition and inadequate hydration can lead to foggy thinking, negativity, distraction and irritability.
6. Pause before you speak. If your thoughts are negative, then what you're about to say will likely be negative as well. What will be the impact on the other person's day, and on your relationship with this person? How will you feel about yourself later in the day if you say it?
7. Turn to gratitude. Nothing can turn a thought around quicker than gratitude. Instead of "I'll never have enough time to finish this piece!", I can be grateful for the talent I've been given.
Our thoughts are always with us and may not always be helpful or encouraging. What's most important, though, is what we do with those thoughts and what we let those thoughts do to us!
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