Sunday, January 10, 2010

Where Have You Painted Your Bulls-Eye?

"Success doesn't come to you…you go to it." --Marva Collins

A classic book on self-improvement was published in 1960 with the title, Psycho-Cybernetics. The author, Maxwell Maltz, was a successful plastic surgeon who noticed a peculiar and discouraging phenomenon with some of his patients. Despite the removal of what they considered physical flaws, many still believed they were unattractive. Maltz realized their distorted perception stemmed from a flawed inner-view.

Bottom-line, self-image is based on inner beliefs, not outer appearance.

"Self-image sets the boundaries of individual accomplishment." ---Maxwell Maltz

This phenomenon also affects our basic interaction with life itself. Our core image determines how we will approach both goals and opportunities that come our way. To put it simply, You Are What You Believe.

"It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not." ---Author Unknown

Now this is not new stuff, but the Dr. Maltz's approach may feel fresh, even nearly fifty years after its first publication. He likened the mind to a cybernetic "servo-mechanism". Pretty fancy, huh? The idea though is straightforward: our mind is like a computer-controlled missile heading to a target determined by beliefs. The self-image we possess is the result.

The target is determined by your beliefs. Think about that. Where have you painted your bulls-eye? How many times have you heard (or said) this common phrase: With my luck, THIS will happen…

Hmmmm?

"You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them." ---Michael Jordan

Since the publication of this classic (and I do recommend it to one and all) the idea of beliefs shaping the reality we encounter has become quite popular. Although, in fairness, the idea has existed for eons.

"The mind is everything. What you think you become." Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.

Yet today we still struggle with beliefs that affect our behavior and our self-perception. Why do some people manage to accomplish so much while others clench their fists in despair? How can we achieve success and happiness in life? Obviously, effort must be made. Goals set and reached. But unless you believe you can and will achieve anything of value, you may unconsciously set yourself up for failure or just languish in procrastination hell.

"Low self esteem is like driving through life with your hand brake on." ---Maxwell Maltz

The good news is we can change our self-image. We can reprogram our brain to believe in success. One very powerful tool is visualization. By placing an image in your mind, you can reprogram your thinking. As children, we learn behavior by imitating others. We put a picture in our mind and strive to faithfully reproduce that image. We Form Habits.

How many here have to think before tying a shoe? Not many, I'm guessing.

Our mental habits are much more powerful than we realize. And those mental habits are part of our neural network. How we respond to a smile from a stranger, for example, is based on a series of beliefs. How we respond to rejection is also based on beliefs.

"It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to." ---W.C. Fields

So… how do we use the power of visualization to change our self-image, to attract success and to become all that we long to be?

First:

Form a mental image of something concrete. A writer can visualize herself typing The End or signing a contract with a coveted publisher. You can form a picture of yourself paying off bills, marking PAID IN FULL. Perhaps focus on the image of a confident, radiant 'you' giving a lecture or shaking hands with strangers who welcome you warmly. Reinforce your image with an affirmation set in the present moment. Instead of saying you will be (fill in the blank here) say I AM…

The mind will respond As If This Is Happening Now. You are restructuring your beliefs and setting a new target for your mind to lock onto.

Second:

Focus on this image for at least five minutes, perferably twice daily. Maybe in your morning shower (or even better, while looking in the mirror!) and once before bed. Suspend all disbelief and let yourself *feel* excited. Woo-hoo! I AM A Success! Tell yourself firmly: This Is My TRUE Reality. Everything else is an illusion I no longer need. Stick to this for at least a month. If negative thoughts pop up during the day, remind yourself that the "illusion" took time to set-up and might take time to fade away. However… This Is My TRUE Reality. Everything else is an illusion I no longer need.

Third:

Take action. Every day do at least one thing to reinforce your visualization. If you're trying to finish a book, for example, write at least one page and then repeat your affirmation. I finished that page! I AM a successful writer!

Fourth:

Persevere. Stick to this and you'll be amazed at the results.


Only as high as I reach can I grow,
Only as far as I seek can I go,
Only as deep as I look can I see,
Only as much as I dream can I be.

~Karen Ravn

The exuberant rush of holiday madness has passed. Winter is here, affording us the opportunity to retreat from the frenzy and focus on our craft. Let's utilize this time to pull energies that have been scattered the last few months and refocus on our writing. This will be a productive month. I can feel it. Let's Make It Happen.

Now share with me your tips for reprogramming your mind for success. Any great books or personal stories? Do tell!

--Chiron O'Keefe

Also featured at Pop Culture Divas and Between The Lines.

8 comments:

Celia Yeary said...

CHIRON--I've so happy to see you! I actually remember Psycho-Cybernetics and the philosophy behind it. Boy, how many times a day do I feel like this? Even with books contracted (five), and a nice blog that's fairly successful, and a few articles and essays sold, I so often wake up feeling--well, ugly. Not me, but my work. Even though someone else thought it worthy of payment, I often later look at it and think, Gee, is this really any good? Always,always, I doubt myself. Thanks you, dear friend, for this enlightening, uplifting post! Have a great week--Celia

Misty Evans said...

Self-doubt shadows me like many others, Chiron. I do believe that keeping positive affirmations on repeat in my brain help lift my spirits and get me moving. I read your blog for constant motivation as well as listening to music and guided meditations that fill with me with happiness. That joy translates to confidence in what I do and how I live.

You're a great researcher, teacher and cheerleader. Many of us look to you for support and guidance. Thank you for all you do!

Misty
www.readmistyevans.com
www.twitter.com/readmistyevans

Miss Mae said...

I feel successful, and deeply grateful, for the contracts that have been offered me. They thrill me no end.

Yet, like Celia says, more often than not I sit here, thinking, "Your writing is nothing but doggie-do." I tend to get easily discouraged when I envision the odor. LOL

Yes, having confidence helps us all to even get out of bed in the mornings! Thanks, Chiron. :)

Linda LaRoque said...

You are such an inspiration! I admire your ability to motive us with your every post. I doubt my writing often, usually just after I've submitted it. Sigh. But, I think some doubt is good for us, it helps us do better.

Chiron said...

Celia, it's always wonderful to see you! You're welcome for the post. It's amazing, really, how many truly talented writers doubt themselves. Even those with dozens of bestsellers under their belt still struggle, worry, and wonder.

Your writing never fails to take my breath away, my dear!

--Chiron

Chiron said...

Oh, Misty, you're welcome and THANK-YOU! What a lovely thing to hear. *smile*

Self-doubt seems to be the nature of the writing game, and in fact, for most creative artists. We take risks. We 'boldly go where no one has gone before', and the unknown is scary stuff. Particularly when it comes time to share work that stems from the most intimate portion of our soul. Yikes!

Yet it's the authors who I think help so many people cope. People who need a laugh or a life lesson, people who need a diversion or some inspiration. All they need to do is reach out a hand and pick up a story written by brave souls like yourself.

Write ON, Misty!

Thanks always for stopping by...

--Chiron

Chiron said...

Miss Mae, you always make me chuckle! No wonder your stories are so wonderful!

Yup, it really seems no matter how far we come, there's always a trace of doubt. If not for that dose of Deliberate Optimism, we may not even (as you say) get out of bed in the morning.

Thank goodness you do, and you write, and lucky readers like me get to read those incredible stories.

*wink*

Keep writing, my dear, and thanks for visiting!

--Chiron

Chiron said...

Thanks so much, Linda! Your words mean a lot to me!

I think you're right, a little doubt forces us to strive to be better. An overly confident writer might not even bother to spell-check! And I do remember distinctly reading a NYTimes Bestseller with a POV that switched six times in one paragraph. It was as if she was just phoning it in.

Too much doubt, of course, weighs you down so you might not get past the first sentence!

Which is why, I think, good writers do need bursts of motivation. Because the doubt (which really is necessary) does bubble up and we need to keep it in check.

Thanks for bringing that up, Linda! You really gave me something to think about.

--Chiron