Psyching Up For Success -- Lynda Hilburn
“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
It’s that time again: the RWA conference is just around the corner. Everybody take a deep breath (and then let it out!).
Does the thought of talking to editors, agents, famous authors and talented peers make you want to run screaming into the night? Are you a “typical” writer: shy, introspective, comfortable sitting at your computer, but terrified at the idea of stringing coherent sentences together in a pitch session? Do you fear your vocal cords will suddenly become paralyzed, or your sweat glands will shift into overdrive, if that special agent says, “tell me about yourself”?
Well, whether the description above is accurate, or you’re one of those lucky, extroverted writers who thrive under pressure – or, if you’re somewhere in the middle – you can use the power of your mind/imagination to create successful outcomes in your writing career and in your life.
“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
~ Albert Einstein
One of the most amazing things I learned long ago, when I began studying the mind in general and hypnosis in particular, was that the mind/brain/psyche doesn’t know the difference between something observed and something imagined. Wow. That’s huge. That means that your mind (through your thoughts and emotions) will happily go about attracting and creating whatever you give mental attention to. (For good or not!)
Of course, we’d all rather stay focused on what we desire, so here are some tools to help you transform negative patterns into positive possibilities:
Also called affirmations, these are statements you select in order to “reprogram” your mind or write a new inner script. Positive suggestions work best if you actually believe what you’re telling yourself. If you don’t believe the affirmation, your mind will generate resistance and nothing will change – you’ll simply have a war of competing ideas waging in your psyche. One sure way to discover if the affirmation you’ve created is believable to you is to listen to your Inner Critic. If your IC comes back with “yeah, that’ll happen,” or “when pigs fly,” then you can be certain you’ve triggered a competing belief. So, what’s the answer? Transform the language into something that’s true for you. Here are some helpful positive suggestions for writers to give ourselves:
- “I love writing – my skills are increasing every day.”
- “Success comes to me in expected and unexpected ways.”
- “I am fine-tuning my craft more every day.”
- “I now allow myself to succeed.”
- “It feels wonderful to succeed.”
- “I now attract the perfect (agent) (editor) (publisher) for me.”
- “I am magnetic to positive outcomes.”
- “Joyful results come to me from everywhere.”
- “I am willing to allow myself to shine.”
- “This conference is a joyful, successful experience for me. Something wonderful is unfolding.”
- “Somehow, everything is working out great.”
- “Yes I can!”
If you have a spiritual/religious belief, your affirmations can reflect it: “The Universe/God/Goddess/All That Is is now guiding me to success as an author.”
“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which
escape those who dream only by night.”
~ Edgar Allan Poe
Since I tend to keep several favorite affirmations/positive suggestions running in my mind during most of my waking hours, I find that they help with another strategy for change:
When you notice your negative self-talk (what most of us do most of the time), switch your focus/attention to a positive memory. Let’s say you’re walking around the conference facility, telling yourself unhappy things like, “I’ll never sell my book. Nobody would want what I write. I don’t have what it takes,” etc. Shift your focus to one of the pleasant memories you’ve stored away in the corner of your psyche: the award you won for your essay in sixth grade, the short story that was published in the high school newspaper, or the time your friend said (after reading your first chapter), “Hey! You’re really good.” I’m not suggesting that we need outer validation in order to feel good – in fact, the opposite is true, we need inner validation – but having a stash of uplifting mental movies to review can immediately alter the prevailing mental state and literally change your mood, facial expression, etc. The brain/mind/psyche can only concentrate on one thing at a time: the negative self-talk or the positive memory. Which feels better?
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
~ Maya Angelou
All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. The definition of hypnosis is: heightened awareness. Hypnosis is a process of artful distraction. It’s a fascinating – and very natural – paradox. Your body is lying (or sitting) here, but your mind is . . . over there. Other words for hypnosis (achieving the same brain wave patterns) would be: daydreaming, guided visualization, guided imagery, and meditation. I have some hypnosis articles on my non-writing website, if you’d like more information.
As I mentioned earlier, the imagination is the key to transformation. Its symbols, metaphors, stories and sensations are also the language of the soul. The more you practice exploring your inner world, the deeper you can go, faster. (Don’t do this while driving or doing anything else that requires full consciousness!)
Take a few quiet moments daily to stretch out comfortably and close your eyes. Allow yourself to breathe naturally and easily. Feel all the tension and anxiety flowing out of your body as you imagine inhaling a very warm, healing, relaxing energy. Perhaps that energy has a color. Or maybe you can feel it. Or you might just know it’s there. But something pleasant is moving through your body – aligning every cell, bone, organ, muscle and system – guiding you deeper inside your unconscious mind.
Use the power of your imagination to experience yourself in a beautiful place. A lovely landscape or special scene. Make it very real. See every color, every detail. Hear the soft sounds in the distance. Feel the perfect air temperature flowing over your skin. Smell a pleasant aroma. Allow yourself to find a perfect spot in this magical place to stretch out. Feel yourself relax even more. Dropping down deeper and deeper.
As you’re relaxed, begin to daydream about your desired future as a writer and author. Project yourself into the days and years ahead and see, feel, sense and imagine yourself living all the success you want. Step into that scene, that picture, that possibility. How does it feel? Communicate silently with that part of yourself – the part who is living your dream future. Let her tell you how she got there. What steps she took. What commitments she made. What attitudes she chose. What choices she made. Spend as long as you like just reveling in the good feeling of your future life.
As you relax there, give yourself positive suggestions about your desires. Then, when you’re ready, count yourself up from one to five, telling yourself that when you reach the number five, you will be fully back in your physical body, fully in the present, remembering everything you experienced and feeling even better than before you began. Now just rest a moment and smile.
Do this every day and watch what happens.
Have a wonderful conference!!
Lynda Hilburn is a professional counselor and author of The Vampire Shrink, first in the Kismet Knight, Ph.D., vampire psychologist series. Dark Harvest, the second book, is an October 2008 release.
- Kelley Armstrong, New York Times bestselling author