Tell your inner critic to shut up!

“Tell the negative committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up!”

― Ann Bradford

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Do you ever feel like your inner voice is not your best friend? Do you find that voice telling you that whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it wrong? My inner chatter is often telling me that I’m not doing ‘it’ right. It doesn’t matter what ‘it’ is – doing a task, helping someone to do something, even just trying to meditate. I used to think that I was alone in this and that I was just flawed and hopeless. Then I started working with other women in workshops and discovered that almost all of us do this one way or another. It is painful to realize how many of us believe these negative voices in our heads. I wrote about this topic recently on Thrive Global.

Most of us received plenty of negative messages growing up, and usually those messages are blindly accepted and believed. These negative messages from our inner critic create new neural pathways which become embedded in our brains. This becomes negative inner chatter creating limiting beliefs which adversely impacts us in many ways.

A neural pathway is the way that information travels through the neurons, or nerve cells of the brain. We create new neural pathways every time we hear or experience something new. The more we experience something, the more embedded this pathway becomes, and unfortunately, a lot of us have some very negative messages firmly rooted in our brains.

Once those neural pathways are deeply embedded, changing them is not an easy task.

Is there a way to overcome the negative stories that we once heard and now continue to tell ourselves? Is there a way to shift those pathways so that they are less destructive? Yes! There is a practice which you can start using right now, which will bring about changes in the neural pathways that keep you stuck. Using Creative Positive Reframing, you can take limiting beliefs and creatively transform them so they become supportive rather than destructive. You can reframe and create a new perspective on how you think by using these seven tools:

Pay attention — Pay attention to your thought process.

Action: A good way to pay attention to your thought process is to pay attention to how your body feels. You can tell if the thoughts are self-defeating and destructive if they negatively impact your body; for example, a knot in your stomach or a lump in your throat, clenched jaw or tight shoulders.

Practice: Scan your body to check in, notice any tight spots or knots. Observe/pay attention to the thoughts that you are focusing on when you feel tight; think about why you want to change those thoughts; what is the negative impact on your life?

Get the negative out — Write out the negative.

Action: Nature abhors a vacuum. When you cannot get out of a negative thought spiral — write it out. Get rid of the negative to make room for the positive.

Practice: Get negative thoughts out of your head by emptying it out on paper. Think of it as an emotional enema! Write about all the negativity spiralling in your head. Allow a stream of consciousness to flow and let it all come out. And then tear the paper up.

Replace the negative with positive — Use positive statements and questions to replace the negative

Action: Negative self-talk can be replaced by positivity with the help of a series of deliberate affirmations and questions. This creates new neural pathways and frees you from the negative spiral. However, sometimes when we use affirmations that do not feel real, our brain does not believe it, and this can embed the negative even more deeply. For example, if you are struggling to pay the rent and you say to yourself: ‘I am wealthy and have plenty of money for all of my needs’, perhaps your thoughts will rebel with: ‘Well, that’s not true’ — and then will go on to prove how wrong you are, throwing you further down the negative spiral.

Practice: Creative positive statements wherever possible; and try creating questions as well. Research shows that the use of questions instead of statements works effectively. Questions work with the brain’s natural inquisitive nature; pose a question and your brain will work to find an answer, creating more positive neural pathways automatically. So if when you say “I am wealthy” and your brain rebels; try asking for its help by saying something like “Money is coming to me easily and effortlessly. What do I need to do to increase my cash flow?”

Think about the ideal and be clear why you want it — Create an ideal scenario and know why it is important to you.

Action: In order to create new neural pathways and escape the negative spiral, it’s important to have a replacement to start thinking about. For example, if you are stuck in fear about money, and in a negative loop, start thinking about the flip side and create a picture of the ideal.

Practice: Describe your ideal financial situation, be as specific as possible. Have fun with this: let your imagination be your guide. You don’t need to write this out, just tell yourself the story. Picture yourself living with plenty of money. See yourself living the life of your dreams; actually feel how good it feels. And then focus on the why; why is it important? For example, allow yourself really examine why having more money would make a difference in your life. What is the deepest reason you want this to manifest? Keep going deeper and deeper into why you want to achieve this until you feel like you have hit the heart of it. You will know it when you have hit it, there will be an emotional charge linked to it. Allow yourself to feel the depth of that emotion.

Creative visualization — Picture the ideal and embed it in your brain

Action: Creative Visualization is a technique which uses your own power of ‘seeing’ or visualizing something to attain that which you most want, or want to change. It involves using the mind to see that which you want to achieve; or using the mind to change the negative into positive. You already use this technique every day. Unfortunately, we often use it in the negative. The key to visualization is to create a mindset that you already have that which you are trying to attain, and to believe that you deserve the positive result.

Practice: Relax and take time to do this. Close your eyes and let the movie of you having your heart’s desire run in your mind. Enjoy the process. The more you do this, the more deeply embedded this vision becomes.

Stay positive in the process — Keep a positive attitude as you practice

Action: The field of Positive Psychology points out many benefits of staying positive and being happy. Happiness brings social rewards, helps people recover faster from illness, and have more resilience. Happy people feel like they are in control and are empowered and therefore usually feel more confidence, optimism, and a sense of well-being. These are all good reasons to try to remain in a positive mindset, but one of the main obstacles to positivity is that our brains are wired to look for and focus on threats. This mechanism was helpful back when we were hunters and gatherers, but now this mindset breeds pessimism and negativity because the mind tends to wander until it finds a threat. But there are many methods to overcome the brain’s negative bias.

Practice: The most straightforward method is to focus on love and compassion, forgiveness and gratitude. These positive mind-sets shift your focus from the negative to the positive. Even simply thinking about someone you love or something you are grateful for, can help you shift from a negative mindset to a positive one.

Be creative — Creativity helps us shift from the negative to the positive

Action: While you are focusing on shifting limiting beliefs into more positive and supportive beliefs, it is helpful to be creative in the process. An expression of creativity, in any form, can be helpful in shifting our mood and removing us from a negative spiral. Not only that, but repressed creativity can have the opposite effect, and can ultimately express itself in unhealthy ways, such as bad relationships, stress, neurotic or addictive behaviors. Perhaps the most common manifestation of repressed creativity in women is depression, which, of course, only increases the negative downward spiral.

Practice: There are so many ways we can get creative, and they all involve play: start journaling and play with words; get some oil pastels and play with color; go outside, garden, and play in the dirt; learn an instrument, dance, and play with music; cook and play with spices. There is no right or wrong way to be creative. The only important thing is to allow ourselves to connect with our own creativity.

The next time you find yourself falling into a negative spiral, use these seven tools to tackle those limiting beliefs, and transform them so that they are supportive rather than destructive.

I want to close with a wonderful video clip with Lisa Nichols and Marci Shimoff, appropriately entitled: ‘How to Stop Negative Self Talk.’

 

I’d love to hear about how you get your inner critic to shut up.  We all need as much help as possible with that negative committee! And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

Start now, start where you are . . . and don’t stop.

“Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are and with what you have. Just…start.”

― Ljeoma Umebinyuo

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I’ve had several emails from people who are just starting to write their book and asking advice, any advice, on how to go about getting their book written and out there.  And to me, there is no better advice than that of Umebinyuo:

“Start where you are and don’t stop. Just start”

I love that quote: Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start.

And it doesn’t just apply to creativity either, although it is certainly apt.  I am thinking about this quote in terms of recovery. That quote fits so well for so many of us who made the decision to stop an addictive practice – whatever that practice is. Start stopping! Stop drinking or using or gambling or shopping or whatever that practice is . . . Start stopping now!

“Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are and with what you have. Just…start.”

Just Start Stopping . . .  and Don’t Stop Stopping!   When I started writing my book, my main audience was not necessarily women in recovery, but it certainly fits! I was honored this week when Sally M., an addictions counselor who read my book recently and wrote this review:

“This Way Up is the perfect accompaniment for any recovery work being done.  It will add depth and enrich your recovery.”
(Psst – by the way, This Way Up  e-book is on sale this week for only .99 cents!)
And a woman I know who has been sober for over 20 years, said something similar.
 She told me that she has found my course on Daily Om, 8 Weeks to Your Best Self, to be helpful in her recovery, and she has been recommending it for women that she sponsors. She said it’s perfect because a lot of women she sponsors don’t have a lot of money, and with this course, you choose what you pay.

 

So although I never started either of these projects with that outcome in mind, it is a gift beyond measure – to be of service in someone’s recovery!

This quote also fits well with the following wonderful TED Talk. In this talk, Julie Burstein describes 4 Lessons in Creativity.  She talks about 4 aspects to embrace  in order for our own creativity to flourish.

The First Aspect:  Embrace Experience!  Pay Attention to the world around us. Be open to that thing that might change you.

The Second Aspect:  Embrace the Challenges!  Our most powerful work comes out of life that is most difficult.

The Third Aspect:  Embrace the Limitations!

And finally: Embrace Loss!  Burstein describes this as the oldest and most constant of human experiences.  “In order to create, we have to stand in that space between what we see in the world and what we hope for. Looking squarely at rejections and heartbreak, at war, at death.”

She closes with this important statement:
“We all wrestle with experience and challenge, limits and loss. Creativity is essential to all of us, whether we’re scientists or teachers, parents or entrepreneurs.”
And I would add that once you’ve made the decision to embrace these aspects, then just start! Start right now. Start right where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling, but start. Just Start and don’t stop!

I’d love to hear about your experience just starting . . .  whether it’s with creativity or recovery. How you start and how you don’t stop. And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.
 

 

 

Curiosity + Courage + Creativity = An Unbeatable Formula

“Everybody has a creative potential and from the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world.”
— Paulo Coelho

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I think about that quote a lot lately, almost every time I watch the news in fact! ‘From the moment you can express this creative potential, you can start changing the world.’  Watching the news and keeping up with current events, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless. But it’s important to remember, we all have the creative potential to start changing the world.

But why are so many people so afraid of the idea of creativity? Perhaps it’s the idea that to be creative is to relinquish control.

Matisse famously says: Creativity takes courage.

And Joseph Chilton Pearce adds: To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.

Picasso adds to that: The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.

To allow oneself to put aside that part of us that is in control, that is logical and rational is a scary thought. For those of us who have worked so hard to keep everything ordered and in control, the thought of relinquishing this control is scary. But I love the image created by Lady Gaga about letting go to access one’s creative spark:

When you make music or write or create, it’s really your job to have mind-blowing, irresponsible, condom-less sex with whatever idea it is you’re writing about at the time.

A lot of research is also pointing to curiosity being an important key to unlocking creativity:

creativity-curiosity

In order to spark new levels creativity as adults, we need to get back in touch with our childlike curiosity. We need to observe, explore, ask questions, and again venture into the unknown — Andrew Merle explains in a recent article in Huffington Post: Why Curiosity is the Key to Break Through Creativity.

Along with fear of losing control, a great many people believe that they aren’t creative, that they ‘don’t have a creative bone in their body.’ The sad truth is that many of us have been shamed out of even trying to access our creative spark. Some of us have even been taught out of our creativity. Sir Ken Robinson explains this beautifully in his popular TED Talk: Do Schools Kill Creativity?

The reality though is that we are ALL born creative, we all have that creative potential. Yes, some of us are more artistic than others or more talented in certain areas. But all of us are creative.

Creativity is not found just in the chosen few who exhibit artistic talent. It is a force that flows through every single one of us, allowing us to dream things up and make them happen.

–Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy

In a wonderful article on Greater Good Website, Ten Things Creative People Know, Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy explain that:

Creative expression opens the door to the inner world of our imaginations. It is here that we make meaning of our lives. It is here that motivation takes root. The more creative we are, the more capacity we have to imagine what’s possible and make those visions real.

So although it’s a conundrum, creativity sparks creativity!

So the next time you look around and feel as though it’s time to start changing the world, remember:

Curiosity + Courage + Creativity = an unbeatable formula

I think I’ll close with Sir Ken Robinson’s latest TED Talk, he is always a good choice to illustrate the 3 Cs!  Bring on The Revolution:

I’d love to hear how you spark your creativity.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.

How To Avoid Feeling Homesick For The Self

“Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea. Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting.”
 Edward de Bono

I’m so happy to feature a guest blogger this month. Carol Walsh is a fellow author at She Writes Press and a friend.  Carol’s book, Painting Life: My Creative Journey Through Trauma will be available at the end of this month.

Carol is a talented artist and writer who also happens to be a wonderful therapist.  Do check out her website to find out more about her.

How To Avoid Feeling Homesick For The Self

If I have not been able to be creative, I feel homesick for my Self. I actually feel a physical sense of longing way down deep in the core of my gut. I feel lost. It’s also a feeling that’s reminiscent of my childhood.

When I was a young girl, I couldn’t go away for the night, or I would become homesick. This was a bit inhibiting; but I was sure that if I left home for too long I would be forgotten. I had to go back home to reclaim my space within the family.

As an adult, feelings of homesickness emerge when I forget myself – that is, forget who I am and what I’m about. When I forget me, I need to touch base with my soul, my spirit, so I can reconnect with my Self.

In this crazy, busy time, many of us forget to touch base with our core Self. We forget about our needs, priorities and values. When we aren’t in touch with ourselves, we can’t make effective choices, because there is no Us to turn to for information.

When we are connected to our core, we can make conscious choices. This is so important because all choices need to reflect who we are — our meaning and purpose in life.

Creativity is a terrific way to access our core Self. As we mature, we have different needs and awareness’s and therefore we need to make different choices. Creativity helps us keep in touch with those changes.

I love this quote from Sophia Loren: “There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age.”

In general, it is best to pick one creative outlet that you can routinely engage in, to help you touch base with your inner Self. That will be one of healthiest habits you could add to your schedule – even if it is for one half hour, once a week.

 Try one of these exercises while asking yourself the question, What is my mission and purpose in this life?

Exercise no.1. Get a journal (with no lines), or a blank piece of paper and then, with your non-dominant hand, write two sentences, one that begins with: “I am a —.” Then write a second sentence that begin with: “My purpose in life is —-.“

Exercise no. 2. Cut out a number of photos, from several magazines, that speak to you. Then arrange these in a pleasing way and glue them to a large piece of cardboard. While looking at the collage, ask yourself: “What does this say about who I am, and what my life mission is?”

Exercise no. 3. On a blank sheet of paper and in a vertical column write the words like this:

6 months,

year 1,

year 3,

year 5

year 10.

Then, beside each time frame write two things you would like to manifest during that time. On a new page, begin with the items in the six months category, and note the first three action steps you need to take to achieve each of these.

 

Thank you Carol! And now I’d like to close with another She Writes Press fellow author, and one of the founders of SWP, Brooke Warner. If you are thinking about writing your own memoir, Brooke’s book, Green Light Your Book is a must!  Here’s a video about it:

 

 

I’d love to hear about how you stay connected to your creativity and thus to your self. And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

Getting Inspiration through Creativity

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.”

― Joseph Chilton Pearce

I love that quote by Joseph Chilton Pearce. And I’m feeling that a lot at the moment – having to lose that fear – as I see my own stuff out there. This book tour, the interviews, the articles, have forced me to get over that fear of being wrong.  I have to be so out there, so transparent. I have nowhere to hide!

In my latest interview with Sally Hubbard, I talk about getting creative and getting into flow to find our inspiration.

“Being creative is much easier than trying to meditate or spend time just being quiet. Then they get their inspiration and their connection to self and they can be in that flow and get their ideas, their inspiration, their juices flowing.”

I’m going to make this post a bit different – this time instead of writing the post, I will attach a podcast.  The podcast is an interview with Sally Hubbard, creator of Women Killing It!

Women Killing It!

Let me know what you thought of the podcast; and I’d love to hear how you lose that fear of being wrong. And as always thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

Creating Your Sacred Space

“Visualization works if you work hard”
― Jim Carrey

Shakti Gawain describes creative visualization as:

The technique of using your imagination to create what you want in your life.  There is nothing at all new, strange or unusal about creative visualization.  You are already using it every day, every minute in fact.  It is your natural power of imagination, the basic creative energy of the universe, which you use constantly, whether or not you are aware of it.

We do this everyday, so we may as well do it consciously. I have found that the best and most effective way to do creative visualization is to first create a sacred space to work from.

Creating that sacred space is the first visualization exercise from my book This Way Up: Seven Tools for Unleashing Your Creative Self and Transforming Your Life – from Part Two – The Workbook – Week Two, Day Three.

In my book, I have written out the words for the exercise, but for ease and simplicity, I have made a video to aid in the process.

You will find all of the exercises and visualizations from This Way Up on my You Tube Channel and also on my website:  www.thiswayupbook.com  

A huge thank you to my son Devin for his amazing music.  Devin composed and performed and uploaded this original music for my visualizations.  The music is absolutely mesmerizing!

Please give yourself 20 minutes to complete this visualization; and I suggest you take time to journal about it afterwards, making note of anything that might have stood out for you – a color, an unusual image, etc.  This is the same sacred space that you will go to for all future visualizations from my book, so take the time to create the perfect space for yourself.  The more you practice, the easier it is to do.  Enjoy!

 

 

I would love to hear any feedback about how this visualization was for you;  I always love hearing about people’s experience with creative visualization.  And as always, thank you for stopping by, I appreciate it.

Using Creativity to Externalize the Internal Process

“The urge to destroy is also a creative urge.”
― Pablo Picasso

My dear friend and business partner, Deb Brock, is such a creative being.  I love being around her when she is in Flow.  in the zone, just creating. Being able to get into that place, that zone, I think is key to connecting to that deepest sense of self. And when we connect to that deepest sense of self, that is where we find our answers.

Join Deb and I as we talk about Creativity and Externalizing the Internal Process.

 

 

 

I’d love to hear about your process, how do you get into flow, into the zone?  And as always, thanks for stopping by, I appreciat it!

Creativity isn’t always easy

Creativity is putting your imagination to work, and it’s produced the most extraordinary results in human culture.

– Sir Ken Robinson

Some people claim that they have to create – that painting or writing or making music is as essential to them as breathing.  That is not the case for me.  I usually feel like I have to force myself to take the time to be creative. I set time aside to journal or write or just doodle because I know that that is the time when I can really connect with the source, with the truest part of me.

Other people are the oposite; instead of feeling like they have to create, they feel like they absolutely cannot create. Those people feel that creativity is only found in the chosen few.

Creativity is not found just in the chosen few who exhibit artistic talent. It is a force that flows through every single one of us, allowing us to dream things up and make them happen.

–Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy

In a wonderful article on Greater Good Website, Ten Things Creative People Know,  Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy explain that Creative expression opens the door to the inner world of our imaginations. It is here that we make meaning of our lives. It is here that motivation takes root. The more creative we are, the more capacity we have to imagine what’s possible and make those visions real.

But it’s important for me to explain, that for me anyway, it isn’t always easy.  It takes effort and determination and tenacity.  I force myself to journal every morning before I get up because I know that that is the time that I sometimes get glimpses of what is possible and ideas about how to make them real.  I sometimes get flashes of insight that lead to amazing things. And sometimes I even get lost in doodling or drawing and just love what emerges. It’s glorious to get lost in that flow.  Not that it’s anything I’d ever sell as ‘fine art’ – it’s just amazingly cool to get lost in, and to connect with that deep sense of self in the process.

In their article, Taylor and Murphy explore ten ideas about creativity and creative people:

1. Our lives have meaning.

2. We are all creative.

3. Creative expression empowers us.

4. We are good at heart.

5. Life is an adventure to be lived, not a problem to be solved.

6. Change is an inside job.

7. Diversity is a resource.

8. We thrive when we feel supported.

9. We each have the power to make change.

10. The challenges of our time require intergenerational collaboration.

 

We all have this potential and this gift.  It’s just that it isn’t always easy and often requires effort and determination to focus on our creativity – even if it’s only for 5 minutes before we get out of bed.

I’d like to close with a video clip with the wonderful Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way. The clip is aptly called – ‘The Power of Persevance’

 

I’d love to hear about how you feel about your creativity. And as always, thanks for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

This Way Up, The Website!

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy

― Marcel Proust


I am so incredibly grateful to my son Lukas! He makes me very happy.

It’s an exciting time.  I saw/heard a message when I was meditating 2 days ago:

Envision what you want, do what needs to be done to set it up and step into the life you’ve created.

That’s exactly what it feels like I am doing at the moment. Now that my book is written, I am getting it out there. Lukas has built a beautiful website; I’ve had business cards made with the website and new email address; I’m setting up speaking and book events and I’m stepping into the life I’ve created.

Suffice it to say that at 58 (my birthday was yesterday!), building a brand new website, although not completely impossible for me, would be way way beyond my skill set.  As a matter of fact, most of the stuff going on in my life is way outside my comfort zone; I’m on a steep learning curve!

Please take some time and visit the new website; it’s crisp and clean and colorful and creative. It’s called:

This Way Up Book (www.thiswayupbook.com)

I’d love to hear what you think of it. You can comment on it here or on that website’s comment page.  I’ll be keeping workshops and events for the book updated there. So visit often!

I’ll close with a wonderful video about gratitude – because I’m sure feeling grateful today!

Discover the three keys of gratitude to unlock your happiest life!

Unfold Your Own Myth!

“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”

– Rumi


Unfold your own Myth! In a previous post I talked about moving toward the best version of myself, which feels like the unfolding of my own myth.

The only way that I know how to move toward that best version is to allow my own myth to unfold. And the only way that can happen in my life, is to create a sacred space with intention.

The myth that is unfolding right now in my own life is my book, This Way Up.  This week I received the final design for my cover, which I now use as the banner on the site:

 

ThisWayUpCover

 

I’m in awe – this is mine! This will be on my own book! I feel – no – I know that I am being led, that my myth is unfolding perfectly.

Caroline Myss explains that:

One of the most beautiful ways to understand the essence of Spiritual Direction is that you enter into a dialogue with the intent of letting your spirit reveal to you the story you are living that is your life.

I am humbled as I engage in this dialogue, as my myth unfolds.

Caroline Myss’s new clip on You Tube, ‘Spiritual Direction’ is rich and full.  It is long, but so worth the time.  Please do take the time to listen.  And take the time to create the sacred space to allow for the intention to unfold your own myth.

 

 

I’d love to hear about how your own myth is unfolding.  And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit.  I appreciate it.