Yesterday, I started a story about the negative chatter we all have in our head. Mine was running my life. It was negating what I was learning from books. When I was reading The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, I loved it. But afterwards, my negative self talk made me think the books was useless and being cynical was clever. Here, then, is what happened next. . .
Getting rid of negative chatter. . .
Once I started to meditate, I began to want the negative self-talk to stop. A friend suggested I replace the negative chatter with positive thoughts. Affirmations? Me? Impossible. Not me. I forced myself. “I am a creative person.” “I am good at problem solving.” “I am strong.” “I am talented.” At first, it seemed ridiculous, selfish, vain. Then I noticed that I WAS a good problem solver. People were asking me to help them with their problems.
. . . opens the door to powerful change
Something else happened. I began to lose the negativity I thought was part of me. I quit doing something I had always done well—using my wit to criticize others. . I stopped telling people why their idea wouldn’t work. I didn’t like the protection my public face gave me anymore. I wanted my life to contribute, not denigrate. I wasn’t quite ready to be vulnerable, but I was heading there.
Visualize change, create change
Using the same technique I used for meditation, hushing my mind, I began to imagine situations that seemed hard to me. Speaking to people. Explaining what I do. In my imagination, the people smiled at me. They were happy with what they heard. I had something useful to say. The more positive things I imagined, the more positive things I noticed when I was in training sessions or at art shows.
The next October, on a cool but sunny day, I recognized myself standing at an art show, laughing with some other artists. I was happy. It was exactly what I had envisioned in the leadership course from three years before.
Change isn’t instant, but it gets easier
Visualization works because you focus on what you can do to influence the outcome positively. And once you’ve envisioned something, you begin to work on making it happen. To make it happen, we push away the negative, and choose to replace it with positive thoughts and actions. The choices are sometimes hard, but they are fueled with small successes and moments of joy. Change does not happen in a day, or a week, but it grows with each decision you make to make a positive choice instead of a negative one.
“The old man leafed through the book, and fell to reading a page he came to. The boy waited, and then interrupted the old man just as he himself had been interrupted. “Why are you telling me all this?”
“Because you are trying to realize your Personal Legend. And you are at the point where you’re about to give it all up.”
“And that’s when you always appear on the scene?”
“Not always in this way, but I always appear in one form or another. Sometimes I appear in the form of a solution, or a good idea. At other times, at a crucial moment, I make it easier for things to happen. There are other things I do, too, but most of the time, people don’t realize I’ve done them.” (p.25)
I finished reading the book and purchased 10 copies, which I’ve given away to people who want to transition into a different stage of their life. The negative self-talk will always be with you, but as a friend of mine says, “it’s always with me on the way to a show, but I’ll be damned if I’ll let it drive.”
–If you don’t want to tackle learning how to meditate, you can start with daydreaming. It’s easy and you get great results. Don’t focus on any one thing, let your mind drift. But if your mind drifts on negative thoughts, give it something to solve or a creative challenge.
–Quinn McDonald is a writer. She’s pushing hard on Chapter 6 of the Inner Hero book.