One of the biggest challenges I face in my life is keeping the momentum of writing. I’ve had periods where I’ve written for months nearly every day. Sometimes I was working on articles for a website where I used to publish, or I would sit at home or at a coffee shop editing my words to self-publish my first book, ‘Flex Your Mind’.
Other times I was writing in my journal, doing what I called ‘morning pages’. I actually wrote this article this morning. I got up, went to the bathroom, had a glass of water, made a coffee and some oatmeal and sat down to write. I did not check my email or any messages or browse Facebook or any other sites online. I kept my brain open only to expressing my thoughts on paper. I did not allow myself any distractions.
Recently I’ve fallen out of the habit of regular writing. Who am I kidding, I mean months and months. I’ve published a few articles on my blog, but nothing to the extent that I had planned for myself. I have a list of article ideas from a few words to paragraphs long. I continually ask myself, ‘Why am I not sitting down to write these articles?’
Recently I purchased a series of CDs from Anthony Robbins. I was listening to one of the sessions in Personal Power Classic Edition. Robbins was talking about the things that hold us back; the things that make us not achieve our goals. To quote what he said,
“What’s real for you today is based on your past, based on your past experiences. And if you limit your future based on your past you’re not going anywhere.”
This observation really struck a chord within me and it was powerful enough for me to write it down. The degree to which anyone allows this to be true in any area of their life will determine where they are on the continuum of learned helplessness. I know that I do this in the area of being creative, namely writing articles and working on future book ideas, seminars and potential products. I’ve allowed myself to believe that I’m not good enough, that I’m not a great writer, that I’ll make mistakes like I have in the past and that I’ll be judged. However, the fear that I’ll be judged is important for me to understand. We will always be judged by others for everything that we do. Speaking for myself, I will be judged for my writing, my body, my tone of voice, a gift that I give to someone, a meal that I cook, an expression that I wear on my face while at work, missing a ball in volleyball or making a great hit, and, lastly for being gay.
What we have to remember is that judgment from others will always exist. It is part of the human condition. They can be both positive and negative influences on our lives. Judgements like, ‘Good job’ or ‘You could’ve done better’, are other people’s opinions and they are attached to their emotional reaction to whatever you have said or done. We need to be able to distance ourselves from the emotional association of the judgment of others, be it pride, joy, disappointment or annoyance. Those emotions are not our own unless we choose to make them our own.
If we choose to observe external judgments, as best we can, as an analysis or a measure external to ourselves, we can potentially use them as a secondary comparison for our own self-analysis.
I think the key is to ask the question, ‘How did I do?’ before allowing yourself to be influenced by opinions/judgments of others. As much as possible use the most positive opinions or helpful criticisms, i.e. seek useful feedback to improve and empower your self. Discard any and all opinions that are judgments based on negative and personally unhelpful emotions, i.e. when a judgment is really a reflection of ‘what’s wrong’ with the other person and not you.
So how do you take action to remove the limiting beliefs that are holding you back? Use the example of my personal reflection on writing. Is there something that you want to achieve in life but you continually dismiss said action or dream? For some people it’s the desire to make more money or to get a better job or career. Is there something that you keep working on, but you stop and start, and stop and start again? Do you keep trying the next, ‘new’ diet, hoping that you’ll loose weight? Do you join a gym in January, all fired up with New Year’s resolutions, only to go twice, if at all?
Ask yourself, what am I most afraid of? What do I love to do? What do I most want to do above everything else in my life? Then ask yourself, why am I not doing this? Ask yourself to feel for the specific emotions around whatever it is that you want, not doing or aspiring toward.
Oftentimes we are afraid that if we start something new and succeed at it, we might lose some friends. The classic example is the person who wants to lose weight. You might be afraid that if you succeed your friends might think you are now better than they are. When you are trying to lose weight you’re looking for a support system to help you succeed (like hiring a personal trainer or nutritionist who can give you that balanced, unbiased support). If you go out for dinner with your friends are also overweight it’s so easy for one of them to say, ‘It’s okay it’s just another piece of pie.’
These questions are only starting points. I admit that I’ve been working through this process and learning as I go. As I learn I hope that I can teach and help others to do the same thing. There is no single solution to solving your problems and there is no single guru to do the same. Take action right now at the end of this article to ask yourself the above questions. Write down your answers.
If you need more help to move forward there are literally thousands of resources in books, CDs, seminars and online resources. I would be happy to answer your comments or questions about materials that I have found useful.