Clear Out The Mental Clutter

IMG_1323In my last post I wrote about self-sabotage and how it can show up as taking action and that it’s really distraction in action. Instead of focusing on taking action to further your goals you are taking action to get your laundry done, cleaning your house, or grocery shopping. These are also important “to-do’s” but not at the expense of your life dreams.

To better understand self sabotage, let’s go a little deeper and look at how habitual thoughts/thinking can also self-sabotage our best intentions and well laid plans.

These are some (and not all) of the negative habitual thoughts that may come up when you are trying to create the life you want:

I don’t deserve…

I am not good enough…

I don’t have the skills to…

“They” have more experience than me to….

“They” have more money than me to….

I don’t have the money to do this…

Look at what so and so accomplished/created…

All of these statements have one thing in common they come from a lack of mindset. I find that when I am stuck in a lack of mindset nothing seems possible, good or joyous. This mindset usually brings up doubt, fear and a sense of hopelessness for me and I have a hard time moving forward.

How do I move forward? I bring mindfulness and awareness into the moment.

The first step I take is to pay attention and bring mindfulness to how I am feeling in my body. Am I feeling crabby, annoyed, tired or frustrated? If so, I get curious about that and check in to see if I am really feeling that way or is it habitual negative thoughts and thinking patterns that are influencing how I feel.

More often than not, I am thinking negative thoughts and need to focus on cleaning up these habitual thought patterns that don’t serve my well being or my life dreams. In essence, these habitual thoughts and thinking patterns are a form of self-sabotage so that I don’t move forward in life. I continue to repeat behaviors that keep me stuck or blocked around moving toward my goals and dreams.

As crazy as it sounds, sometimes we are so comfortable in this state of negative thinking that we sabotage ourselves to stay in it! Why? This is where fear comes in; fear of the unknown, fear of something different, fear of not being able to control our lives…the list goes on and on. Fear lives because we feed it with our negative thinking, negative thoughts and with our comfort around staying the same (even if it isn’t serving our best intentions!)

In these moments, I practice bringing mindfulness and awareness to choose better feelings and thoughts. This process includes thoughts that are not from a lack of or negative mindset. This is important to remember that you do have a choice around what you think about and what thoughts take up a lot of your mental space. So why not choose abundant and positive mindset?

This does not mean being false to yourself about how you feel, it means choosing thoughts that feel better in small increments to create an abundant and positive mindset! It also means paying attention to what is going well in your life and acknowledging it! As you begin this process of cleaning up your thinking and your habitual thought patterns you also begin to self-sabotage less. You aren’t feeding and sustaining the negativity and lack of mindset that is comfortable and doesn’t want to change.

I want to challenge you this week to pay attention to what kind of thoughts take up most of your mental space and lead to self-sabotage. How did you bring mindfulness and awareness to this process? I’d love to hear about your experience, please leave a comment.

Are You Engaging In Self-Sabotage?

One of the biggest obstacles to meeting goals and taking action can be working with and through resistance.

Resistance can be so tricky and can show up in a multitude of forms without even realizing it. You think you are taking action, doing something “productive” or doing something that “needs to get done” but it’s really only self-sabotage.

Maybe working on what is really going to further your goals or your creative project seems too intimidating or too overwhelming. Or maybe you say to yourself “I will get to it later” but it’s later and you didn’t get to it.

So instead of focusing on taking action towards your goals you may focus on:  doing laundry, making a shopping list, cleaning the house, watching television, going out with friends, exercising, making a meal. You get the idea.

You may be thinking to yourself “but those are things that I need to do!” and yes, they are but are you doing them at the expense of meeting your goals? Are you doing them in the middle of the day or at odd times when you could be working on your creative projects? How is your resistance consciously or unconsciously undermining what you want to create in your life?

Another form of resistance (aka-self-sabotage)  is not saying yes to what is truly important in your life and saying yes to everything and everyone outside of yourself first. Then you will be “busy” and not have any time to focus on what you said you wanted to create.

Maybe you are “busy”. That seems to be every persons favorite phrase, “I am too busy, I don’t have enough time!” We have a choice about how busy we want to be, what we say yes to and what we say no to. We also have choices about how we spend, structure and relate to time. Everyone has 24 hours in a day. How you choose to utilize your time is ultimately up to you.

This is one of the reasons why resistance can be so tricky to work with and through.  By being “busy” you may feel good temporarily because you have a lot going on and your feeling productive. You may feel good that you are helping other people but at what expense in the long run?

It does not mean that you cannot help others and feel productive but inevitably do you find yourself feeling worse because you haven’t done the things you said you were going to do for you?

It’s simply more cover up tactics, an illusion that you are “taking action”. However  it’s not action to further your goals and creative projects, it’s just filler to avoid the commitment you made to yourself.

I would like to ask if you can you be mindful and pay attention to the difference between taking action to further your goals vs. taking action in the form of resistance to sabotage your dreams?

When you do notice the difference, what action do you choose to take out of that insight?

I’d love to know. Please leave a comment.

Do You Have An Attitude of Gratitude?

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Happy Thanksgiving to those of you celebrating in the U.S.!

Developing an attitude of gratitude has not come naturally to me and it is something I try to cultivate daily through mindfulness, creativity and my meditation practice. When I am truly in a state of gratitude my whole outlook on life shifts radically!

Did you ever notice when you smile or you are friendly it comes right back to you? Other people smile back at you or engage in conversation with you. You have a choice around what kind of energy you want to put out there and what you want to welcome in—will it be gratitude, appreciation and joy or will it be negativity, blaming and joylessness?

Making the choice of what energy you put out will make a difference and impact you in so many areas of your life especially in regards to creativity. Have you ever wanted to create when you were in a truly negative space? Probably not, you may have wanted to throw something or crawl under a rock.

Your mental state effects your emotional state and that effects what actions you take moment by moment, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly…you get the idea.

When you choose thoughts of gratitude and appreciation, don’t you feel more alive, more connected, receptive and more open hearted? I don’t know about you but when my heart feels more open I also feel way more inspired about my day and how it will unfold. I am more enthusiastic about everything and love engaging in creative activities like painting or writing while in this state.

How do you develop an attitude of gratitude?

When you wake up first thing in the morning are you dreading your day? Is your first thought; I am tired…I don’t feel good…I can’t believe I have to get up.

What if you woke up and thought-This is great! I am alive today! (It’s so easy to take the fact that you woke up and you are alive for granted). Having this be your first thought, This is great! I am alive today! Instead of the other ones I mentioned can connect you to the present moment. You then have the opportunity to make choices about the tone, feeling, and attitude you would like to carry throughout the day.

Some of the ways I keep developing this attitude of gratitude is by giving thanks or appreciating people, places, and nature consistently through the day. This can be thinking it or actually writing it down in a journal. Also, being mindful, paying attention, coming back to the present moment and realizing what a gift it is to be alive!

All of this excitement and good feeling can be used to fuel your creativity and whatever you are working on. It’s much more exciting to be aware of your surroundings, feel inspired by them and know that you have the opportunity to create whatever you want!

How does an attitude of gratitude impact your life and creative pursuits?

4 Easy Steps To Creative Risk Taking

Denver, Colorado

Taking a risk can be one of the most challenging and most rewarding options to do in your life and in your creative practice. It means doing something you have never done before or doing something that is outside of the mainstream, out of the box, something that you would not “normally” do or that you are uncomfortable with.

You may not take risks for various reasons, “I will look stupid. I have never done this before and I don’t know how to do it. I want it to be perfect. I can’t do it because…I am too old, too tired, I don’t have enough money, it’s not the right time etc.”

These are all “reasons” or more accurately self-judgments that limit you from taking a risk because you are afraid to do it badly, fail, do it imperfectly or that you will screw it up.

However, what is the cost of not taking a risk? That you may have the breakthrough of a lifetime on that novel you are writing or picture you are painting? That whatever you are creating is not working at all so you discover what steps you need to take to improve it.

Or maybe through the risk taking you expand your limits, boundaries and ideas of yourself and what you are capable of creating. Without taking a risk, the real danger is becoming complacent, mediocre, and stagnant. Who wants that as a creative legacy?

How do you face this intentional interaction with uncertainty and muster enough courage to take the creative risk in the first place?

1.  Work with the feeling of uncertainty.

Uncertainty will overwhelm and kill any thoughts of risk taking by bringing up judgments (as mentioned above) and fear. Working with these thoughts and feelings through meditation, yoga, mindfulness practices, and walking in nature are all helpful ways to ground yourself and get in your body and out of your head. (Or do whatever practice makes sense and helps you to ground yourself and get out of your head.)

2.  Take action, any type of action that will make you begin creating.

Usually small steps are easier but there are those of you who would rather take the big leap and that works great too. Remember: any action big or small is better than no action at all!

3.  Assess and don’t judge.

Objectively look at what you have created and figure out what the next step is. You may need to start over, throw it out, add, subtract or keep going. Whatever that next step is don’t get caught up in the assessment by allowing negative thinking and judging to take over.

4.  Repeat. Go back to step 1.

Especially if you are going down the rabbit hole with your thoughts and getting stuck, blocked or frozen from negative thinking and judgment.

You have nothing to lose except the possibility of what could have been created if you took the risk in the first place! That could be a tremendous loss not only for yourself but also for the people who would benefit from experiencing what you have created.

I challenge you to take a risk in your creative endeavors and I would love to hear what action you took to make it happen!

How To Be Mindful In Nature

IMG_0445 IMG_0446Nature calls and I don’t mean going to the bathroom. Fall is turning into winter and nature calls to us everyday if we are open to experiencing it’s wonders.

When I am out in nature I try to be very mindful of my surroundings. This means that I don’t have headphones on so I can actually hear the birds singing and calling to one another this time of year. It also means not bringing my phone so there are no technical distractions. I can totally be with myself in nature and experience all of my senses.

I find that when I am in the present moment, I am more aware of my surroundings and truly enjoy what I am experiencing. I really see and notice the shapes, colors, shades and hues of the trees, the leaves, the ground, and the mountains. I can hear and listen to different sounds: the melodies of the birds, coyotes howling, the wind in the trees, or the rain falling gently on the ground. I smell different scents of flowers, the earth after it rains, and grass after being mowed. These are just a few examples of what I notice when I am not checked out either in my thoughts or with technology devices.

I feel a deeper connection to the natural world when I am mindful, present, and when I am not distracted. This connection is one my inspirations for creativity and it comes from that depth of experience. In Mother Nature, spring is a time for growth, cleansing, renewal and new beginnings. Let yourself enjoy the spring season and all that it has to offer.

But before you go outdoors, I invite you to ponder five questions to help facilitate mindfulness when you are in nature:

  • How does everything come alive for you in nature when you are in the present moment, and just experiencing what is happening around you?
  • What happens creatively when you tap into that feeling when you are open and full of wonder, awe, and non- judgment?
  • How does being mindful in nature inform or influence your work as an artist?
  • Do you pay attention to what each season has to offer as inspiration?
  • How do you observe, sense and feel nature in your being for creative inspiration?

Nature calls-free yourself from being indoors! Get out in nature, be inspired and release the creative in you!