This article originally appeared in Access The World Magazine.
Do you think you are creative? After spending years interviewing people, helping them write their stories, bio’s, blogs, and share their expertise with the world, it is obvious to me that everyone is creative and no two people create the same. I find it very strange that there are so many defined ideals of what successfully creating your life should look like, and all these “right ways” to get there.
Everyone keeps looking outwards for the answer to creating their lives, but we don’t realise that we were born creating dynamically. We already know, it’s just that we don’t know that we know!
As we grow up, we spend years unlearning our natural abilities of creation and squashing them inside limits, definitions, do’s and don'ts, musts and must nots, right and wrongs. And frankly, it sucks!
For most of my life, I was creating dynamically, but I couldn't see it. I thought I was a total failure. You see, I had this picture of THE career, THE relationship, THE perfect amount of money (squillions, of course!) but I had discounted every ounce of creation in my life because it was not the “perfect picture” I had in my mind.
I have since recognized the total fallacy of this “ideal” and how much clinging to it made me discount most of my creative capacities, most of the time. Here are key steps I took to flip that around and that have become som of my tops tips for anyone looking to create their own life in their unique way:
Give up the “visions” of what your life should look like.
Forget the picture-perfect future. Something greater can come into being if you instead start asking: "What would I like my life to BE like?" Rather than trying to form a visual picture, get a sense of the energies you'd like underpinning your life and living, for example, joy, enthusiasm, happiness, unexpected surprises, fun and interesting people, new experiences, and a sense of peace and ease with money, relationships, and business, no matter what they look like. When a possible choice matches that “sense” of what you desie my life to be like, that is what you should choose.
Stop jumping to conclusions and get curious.
Anytime you catch yourself thinking “I can’t,” “This won’t work,” “That’s not what I wanted!” “I am not able to…” stop and ask a question. Some questions you can ask are:
It is obvious to me now that I've been a compulsive creator all my life. But until I actually acknowledged it, I felt like I was floundering and achieving nothing! Can you believe that? What about you? What are you creating that you don’t acknowledge, that you think is nothing or has no value? Look back over your life, and write down and acknowledge your past and present creations!
The truth is, you are a dynamic creator already, so what would you truly like to create? And, what can you create that no one else can?
We all have those days when everything seems grey. The sky can be blue, the birds can be singing, but rather than be life affirming, it’s just plain irritating the way the sun makes you squint and that god-awful twittering just hits your eardrums the wrong way.
On those days, people you come across can seem so annoying – noisy, inconsiderate, and if they are smiling or happy – they must be total phoneys! We truly can have moments (or even entire weeks, months and years) where we get all “bah humbug” about life and can begin to wonder if there’s anything beautiful about the world at all.
Recently, I was discussing this very thing with a mentor of mine, and he said that many of us refuse to see the beauty in the world, but underneath, the thing we are refusing to see the beauty in most, is ourselves.
In my professional life, I would say this is very true for many of my clients. In fact, even if they are experienced and confident in their field and themselves, they may still not be fully aware of some element of the way they see the world that is just fricken brilliant. That’s why I love what I do – there’s always room for more surprises, insights, angles and even ‘long in the tooth’ professionals can have more ‘aha!’ moments and newly inspired ideas as they recognize more and more what makes them beautiful and unique in their field.
In work, as in life, it appears so much easier to see the beauty in others than ourselves.
Back to my mentor friend, he said the key to begin seeing the beauty in you, is to start consciously acknowledge the beauty in others. Look at what you admire about people. Their talents, their instincts and insights. Their energy or “vibe”. Their sense of humour, their ways of seeing the world that lights you up or inspires you.
When I asked why seeing the beauty in others will help you see the beauty in you (because it seems like a lot of the time we will see what’s great about other people, but use it to judge ourselves as lacking by comparison) he told me the secret trick:
You can only see the beauty in others when you already be it yourself.
In other words, if you don't see, you can't be it. If you see it, you already have it, you already are it.
How often do you notice the kindness, the generosity, the unique perspectives, and the beauty of others, and assume it’s something you don’t have or can’t be?
What if you started looking at what you admire most in others and instead of using it as a measurement to judge you against, start taking notes? Write down all those things you admire in others – make a big ol’ list! Then after a while, read through it with this new information in mind: if you can see it, it’s because you be it.
Read that list again. And again. That, my friend, is you.
Your difference is da bomb!
Message for today: Don’t try to be different. Just know that you are.
Being different is finally starting to become cool. But in the way of this world, which I frankly find annoying, people are still trying to sell to us that there are ‘right’ ways and ‘wrong’ ways to be different. The ‘right’ ways will trend, be popular, and bring success. The ‘wrong’ ways won’t. Basically, that kind of thinking forces us to miss the point entirely and sends us in the opposite direction!
It keeps in play a weird subliminal message that whatever is different about us, is not the kind of different that is valuable. If someone else doesn’t see it, it doesn’t count.
I recently conducted a 4-week writers workshop, and I was very pleased to see that the participants were ready to just let it flow without trying to sound a certain way… then I noticed something odd start to happen.
As they started reading each other’s work, some of their writing subtly started changing and sounding a little more like each other. Now, not that this is wrong! In fact, it’s impressive they have that ability in the first place. Being able to adopt other people’s tone or ways of expression is actually a HUGE talent – hello ghost-writing skills!
But what I did notice is that in the appreciation of the unique talents of others, they were dampening unique elements in their own writing that I for one had been very excited and inspired to see coming through!
It made for some really cool conversations during the course, with people realizing that when they willingly acknowledge and appreciate their own differences more, the can be inspired by others without losing any part of themselves.
It is great to share insights, to grow and learn from engaging with each other; to add ideas, tips, tricks and techniques to our personal toolkits. I am doing it all the time, and I am insatiable in this area!
Whatever we do learn should be an addition to what we already have going for us. Your inherent difference (that you often don’t easily see or value) is as much a contribution as the differences you admire in others. When you truly value your difference, no matter how 'un-different' it feels to you, everything you add can be an addition to your greatness, not a replacement.
When you are not in the "zone"...
So, it's been a while since a published blog. I have written a lot of stuff, but nothing quite seemed to 'zing'. I have never really believed in writer's block, but I can say that recently, I haven't been in the zone. Things don't always flow. Sometimes I don't feel like I am in charge of the muse and I know many of you can relate!
So here is my thing: what if you are not totally in charge, but that is what can actually help you? What if there is more of a concert, harmony or interplay between you and ... something else... that if you embraced it would get you in the zone with your writing, every time?
I am going to share one trick with you right now, that helps me a lot. It's called: 'Talk to your writing as an entity with it's own consciousness.'
Yep, you heard me. Talk to your writing (whether it is a book, a brochure, email, article, blog, whatever) like it has a soul, energy and mind of it's own. Because, it does. How often when you go to create something does it work out exactly as you planned and expected, or does it seem to take you in directions you couldn't have predicted, almost as if there is a path of least resistance you can follow, or a line or energy that seems to guide what comes next?
Especially when I am writing or editing articles for "big deal" publications, and I am just not sure which direction to take it... I talk to the article. Well, I don't just talk to it. I ask it questions: Okay, how would you like to grab people's attention? What do you want to say to the readers? How would you like to say it? Show me!
Sometimes I have these conversations out loud. Give me a crazy hair-do and I would probably seem like a nutty professor or eccentric artist - but it is interesting how the process of getting out of your head, putting something out in front of you and having a conversation with it can really change your perspective.
It's really not that weird when you think about it. It's a simple way of stepping back, taking the pressure off your mind and letting some inspiration in.
When you create something, whether it's a piece of writing or something else entirely, you are navigating a whole lot of things... in my case it is often the client, the PR company, the media outlet and all the expectations from these different parties about the quality and content of the piece. And then there's the voice of the piece itself. It is it's own beast, too, it is an entity of it's own, and somehow treating it as such gives another avenue of creativity, ideas, inspiration to work with, that takes you beyond the considerations and expectations of everybody else.
When I trust the writing itself to know what it wants to be, and I ask it questions, it relaxes me and stops me worrying what everyone else is expecting from it. Nothing stops the 'flow' or writing faster than judgment and worry. So, just for fun, ask your writing:
What do you want to be in the world? What do you want to say? What do people desire and required to hear from you?
And then... let it flow. Before you know it, you are in the 'zone'!
Who is making you unhappy?
Have you noticed how much we are taught to believe that our happiness relies on what the people around us choose? The flip-side of this is that we are also taught to believe that other people's happiness is our responsibility. We are trained from day dot to be people-pleasers and to believe we are not the source for our own joy in life. Is it just me, or is that darn cra-ha-zay??
If you have ever tried hard to make your parents, siblings, children, partners, colleagues, bosses or clients happy, and stressed yourself out to do it - then you know what I mean. If you have ever judged or blamed yourself for never being able to satisfy those miserable people you care so much about, no matter how much you try, then you know what I am talking about. And if you have ever been mad, disappointed, upset, betrayed, let-down, pissed off or unhappy with someone who would not or could not be, do, or say what you wanted them to - you definitely know, whether you want to admit it or not.
There is nothing wrong with desiring others to be happy (or even for desiring other people to do what you want them to do for you - just don't be delusional and expect them to actually do it, or believe your happiness depends on it!).
The upset arises when you do not recognise that it is each person's own choice to be happy or not.. If you never acknowledge this, you will tend to keep "flogging a dead horse" (or a miserable/sad/angry one), trying to change it when it just does not want to change. It's not fun, It's not effective. And your happiness in the meantime steadily diminishes.
If unhappy people are making you unhappy, it's time to change tactics. What if you were the one in total control of your happiness? What if it was a choice in the moment? Ask yourself, "what do I want to be right now, this second? Happy or unhappy?" and just choose it (or not!).
Getting free from needing others to make you happy or the habit of trying to make others happy is a key element in being able to effectively deal with bullies, too!
Read my article published on Leaders in Heels about becoming bully-proof and really give those misery-guts the flick!
Hi. My name is Amanda and I am a Head Tripper. My mind runs. All. The. Time.
If I let it.
People say losing your mind is a bad thing. But let's take a closer look. Without a mind there'd be no pesky-doubty thoughts. No calculating risks, spending hours listing the pro's and cons and still feeling completely undecided. No way to discriminate or compare (oops goodbye racism, perfectionism and prejudice!).
No second guessing. No stopping, delaying, hesitating, posturing, paralysing hours, days, weeks, months years of inaction, indecisiveness or reasons not to choose something, anything. No more feeling like life scarily resembles "Waiting for Godot."
I was taught to believe that thinking would keep me aware and astute. That it would help me out of difficult situations. That it was a source of inspiration and imagination.
However, I have found the opposite to be true.
The more I think, the more I am caught up and paranoid and slowing myself down. It narrows my vision of things rather than widens it. It weighs on me rather than setting me free.
When faced with a difficult situation, my mind tends to tell me all the other ways in which it remains difficult no matter what I do. It's more like a catalogue referring to similar things rather than giving me greater options.
Trying to write when I wasn't "feeling it" was a nightmare. I would try logical and linear ways to do things. But when I finally gave up, threw it out the window, went and did something else and stop thinking about it, I would have an "aha!!" moment that would turn it all around.
The only things that change anything from being difficult to ease has been a shift in perspective that gets me beyond my mind's eye. That shift has never come from a thought!
10 years ago, I didn't have many tools to do anything other than try and think my way out of things and force myself forward whilst over-analysing, fearing the worst and doubting to the hilt.
Now I have heaps of mind-eliminating goodies. And here are some easy tips for my fellow head trippers out there:
1. Just stop. No thought gets more than 10 seconds of air time. It might pop in there, but it doesn't get to settle. "Thanks for dropping by, now Bye BYE!!" You are in charge (even if most of your life it has never felt like it!), time to act like it.
2. Not sure what to do about something and sure it's all a mess? Ask, "What else is possible here I haven't considered?"
3. Can't find a way forward? Think you have made a mistake or done something wrong? Ask, "What if this could work out better than I could imagine?"
4. Look for your awareness rather than thoughts or feelings. Ask yourself, "If I wasn't thinking or feeling this, what would I be aware of?" It kind of twists your brain and frees you up to start seeing things differently.
5. Get your body to help. Find a healthy and nurturing outlet for stress that clears your mind and gives priority to your body. My two favourites are doing something outdoors in nature (beach, walking the dog, discovering a new nature trail, bike ride) and doing something uber-relaxing for my body (massage, getting my Bars run, bath with nice music and candles).
6. Have fun and laugh! If you don't have a clue what is fun for you because you have been caught up in your deep, significant and serious head tripping since you were born, start simple. Ask yourself, "What would be fun for me?" Google "Fun stuff to do for free." Go stare at some flowers or stand in the sun for 3 minutes. Do stuff kids do, like fart and then giggle like it's the funniest thing you've ever heard.
Sometimes a brain doesn't always turn off with the first thing you try.
If I am strolling along and still stuck in my head, I call out the big guns - doing something outside of my comfort zone. Sometimes it's simple, like doing more intense activity that requires all my brain's attention on what my body needs to do, like riding my bike a lot faster than I am normally comfortable with or going to a yoga class. Sometime it's choosing to take action on a business or creative idea that is new, uncharted territory.
Everyone is different. Try different stuff. What works for you?
I used to think that if I could say the exact right thing to someone, it would get the result I wanted. Same with writing – if I could just get those exact words right then blah blah blah would occur.
After talking, explaining, and “communicating” myself blue in the face in my personal relationships with no change resulting at all, and being constantly misunderstood, overlooked, or looked at like I was a weirdo in my professional ones – I realised perhaps my theory / philosophy / belief in this area was just a tad faulty.
You know how people say, “Actions speak louder than words”? Well I would like to tweak it just slightly to say, “Choices speak louder than words.”
What’s the different between choices and actions? Well, action implies a doing. If it’s not something that you say, it must be something you do. And well, it’s not necessarily about just what you do that changes how seen and heard you are in relationships, although I would say the actions you take are definitely included in that process - it’s just not necessarily the source of change. Your choice is.
Choice to have your voice can look a whole lot of ways:
It can be so many things! But they are all choices we can make – a lot of which we either don’t realise we actually have, or that we have already decided won’t make any difference, so we don’t even try. We don’t even wonder anymore.
What if you began to wonder again – what choices do you have here? What would having your voice in a certain area of life, or in your life in general BE like?
Because I can guarantee you one thing: Having your voice is hardly ever about what you say.
Not let that one twist your mind for a bit… 😊
I recently did a free online talk with a bunch of cool people, talking about different points of view and tools in dealing with bullies that can create dynamic changes. You can watch the replay on my website here.
Breaking your worst habit
This year, I have finally acknowledged my worst habit.
It's something I have been aware of for a long time, but I never really was that interesting in doing something about it, because I was sure I had bigger fish to fry, or more weightier problems to solve.
Perhaps deep down I thought it was something I needed to keep in play.
Whatever my reason, this year, I decided there was no reason good enough to keep my worst habit in place. It hasn't been working for a long time, and no one else could change it for me, so it is time to just get on with it. And ultimately, every time I chose it, it just made me super unhappy.
So here was my new demand: Stop. Being. A. Bully.
So that's it - I am out of the closet. I am a bully. I am great at it. Possibly the best. I was bullied in school, and I have also been bullied in the workplace. But no bully in my life has ever been able to bully me better than I can bully myself!
You might know it under another name: self-criticism; doubt; fear; negative self-talk; defeatist mind-set; self-abuse; "I can't"; "I shouldn't"; "I mustn't"; "I will fail..." "I am ugly"; "I am fat"; "I am stupid"; “It’s impossible for me to…” and so on.
I could tell a story how I decided at some point that if I just judge me first and hardest, it would somehow stop or waylay the judgers/haters/people who told me that criticizing me would make me a better person.
Maybe I thought people would love or like me more if they saw I didn't have tickets on myself. Maybe I thought if I played pathetic, or a damsel in distress, they would see an opportunity to lift someone up, instead of bringing them down.
Maybe I had a million reasons – but none of them stand – because none of them actually changed anything! People still chose what they were going to choose regardless, and in the meantime, I was squashing and hiding me dynamically.
This year, I gave up making anyone or anything else the source of my happiness. It came down to me, in the moment, every moment. When I wanted to bully me, I had a choice – change it or keep bullying. And no matter how uncomfortable it was, I began to ask myself: “What is brilliant about me?” “What is great about me?” Even when I really wanted to go to that comfortable place of, “But I am so messed up! Yes fine, I am having a pretty good hair day, but I am sooooo messed up in this other area!”
Every sneaky little way of bullying me. No more!
And it’s not about being perfect. Being perfect is a non-reality. Brilliance, however, IS your reality. But you must be willing to say, “Bye-bye bully!” first!
Is it time to say goodbye forever to the bullies in your life – no matter where they come from?
On Saturday 17th March (7am Brisbane, Australia Time) I am doing a FREE interactive zoom web-call in support of Australia’s National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence, called “Bye-Bye Bully. Hello Brilliance!”
You can find out more and register to join the zoom (and receive the replay) here.
Doing the fun stuff you suck at
I have a(nother) confession to make: I really suck at drawing or painting of any kind (except maybe house or wall-painting, I got that shizzle down!). I have had 12-year-olds laugh at my simplistic attempt at drawing a koala. I am firmly in the 'stick figure' category in terms of talent for realism.
But I LOVE drawing and painting! It's fun, it's messy and thanks to the Jackson Pollocks of the world, there are pretty much no rules whatsoever.
I also am pretty sure I suck at mountain-biking. But gee it's fun. And thankfully I have friends who don't judge me on what a wimp I am or if I end up walking my bike 60% or more of the way!
As a person just a *little* addicted to perfectionism, it isn't always easy to just give something a go if I think it's not going to work out. Can you relate? Have you noticed that the more you try to get it right, the less fun and more difficult it becomes?
What if you would try, just for a moment, forgetting about getting right and allowing yourself to something really, really, badly?
I also had a friend whose dance moves were of the Peter Garrett school in terms of coordination (for those born after '82 - here's a link to check out what I am talking about), but I loved working the dance floor with them, not because they made me look good by comparison (that's arguable!) but because they had fun and no judgement of it. There were willing to be the worst dancer in the room, and we created so much fun and laughter trying to outdo each other with "bad" dance moves!
Have you noticed when you do things for the fun of it and not the judgement, reward or for any other reason, life gets happier? When you let go and let yourself do something as badly as you can, it gets more joyful!
If you don't judge, you get to enjoy. So if there is something you are doing in your business right now that you no longer enjoy, what judgments do you have of it, and what if you let them go and allow yourself to do a bad job... you might find you become even better at it!
I figured it was about time for another writing-themed blog, and thought, let's start with a light and airy topic, just for fun. So of course - Writers Block!
One thing that I never 'believed' in is Writer's Block. Addiction to procrastination--absolutely! Not in the 'mood' or 'zone'--sure. But an actual big ol' block with absolutely nothing to say? Nope!! Until it happened. Ugh. Really? Suddenly I have become the stereotypical image of a struggling writer, staring at that blank page for hours, bloodshot eyes, misery everywhere, no sleep, joy or words to be found anywhere!!!! "Oh god, why? WHYYYYYY???" etcetera.
And then one day, at a totally unrelated event about a totally unrelated thing, someone talked about how they used to fear going blank in front of an audience - and a cool tool for getting over it (all creds to Dr Dain Heer for this one!):
What if those moments you think are 'blank' actually occur when the total opposite is happening to you? What if, you are actually getting a LOT of information / ideas/ words / things to say, but you have just misinterpreted it as blank?
Now, as writers, you may already be seeing how this actually can be applied to writing. How many times have you sat down and thought you had writing block and nothing was coming out right, or coming out of that brain of yours at all; and maybe, just maybe, you actually have heaps and heaps and heaps of ideas all coming in at once, but you think that would feel different, right? Like, nicer, fluffier, with little angels whispering things in your ear, or lightbulbs going off, or that 'flash' or inspiration people talk about, and definitely not blank or blocky--but well, just... what if ? Right? Ok, so now you might be willing to consider the possibility that blank or blocked in not what it appears to be, here is the next part of the tool.
Even if you think I am full of bulldust on this, do it anyway, just try it.
Ok, so the next time you have, 'Oh my god my mind has gone blank,' or 'Geez Louise, I can't think of a word to start typing with!' going on, say this to yourself: "Wow, I have so many things coming into my head right now, I am not sure which to go with."
That's part one. The next part is going, 'Ok mind/brain/magical receptors of creative and inspirational thoughts and ideas that I mistakenly judged as malfunctioning, show me two or three things I could write / say right now."
And then, whatever comes into your brain, no matter how weird, or irrelevant or silly you think it is... PICK ONE AND JUST GO WITH IT. No time for thinking, no time for 'Well this wasn't what I had in mind.' Just start--start typing, start talking, whichever is appropriate for the situation.
The worst thing about starting any journey is refusing to take the first steps. As a dear friend once said to me, "If you start driving your car south, only to find out your destination is north, you are still closer to getting there than if you were still idling in your driveway."
It is the same with writing. Even if you start writing in the 'wrong' direction, you are closer than if you never start. AND... the brilliance of this tool, is you begin to trust the little random sparks that come up. You actually start to listen to them instead of judging them, which over time can lead you to all kinds of amazing ideas, inspirations and realisations. I love, love, love this tool. And I never, ever, ever run out of things to say or write.
Til next time!
With each blog, I aim to invite your creativity, brilliance and difference to come forward and shine.