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22.11.17

Not good enough: How to (sometimes) conquer the long, dark night

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I’m feeling fantastic. Now. Half an hour ago, I was feeling the weight of the world upon me. Feeling ‘not good enough’ is a physical feeling as well as an emotional one. My skin zings with an uncomfortable sensitivity, and my nerves jolt me when I least expect it: whenever I relax.

Feeling fantastic is physical too. My shoulders relax, and my spine straightens. I smile to myself and at others. I take deep, satisfying breaths.

How can that happen? How can I shift from a not-good-enough mindset to radiant, energetic and joyous in 30 minutes? And why does it matter to us as authors?

To shrink or shine: that is the question

To publish a book is to shine – permanently. We must straighten our spines and smile at the world with confidence. What we write goes on the record, and we cannot retract it (although we can always write another book).

When we are up, we can fly over any hurdle. But, as authors, we are aware of the fluctuations I described above – one minute the day is drab, and then next it is warm and welcoming – and we know we lack energy in the dull moments. We struggle to meet the day’s demands.  That can make me nervous about publishing.

I’d be tempted to believe this is just my burden, but I see my clients reach the same moments – sometimes shining and sometimes shrinking. It’s not a gender thing by the way. It’s something we all share.

And just to clarify, I am not talking about states of mental illness in this post – clinical depression or anxiety. This blog is about everyday ups and downs.

Here’s what changed my feelings today

On my cycle commute to Hub Southern Cross, a co-working space where I work two days a week when not at my home office, I listened to half an hour of affirmations read to me by the late author and podcaster, Louise Hay.

As a cynical journalist, I thought affirmations were stupid. That’s right! I just wrote them off. As a practising thought leader, I became more open and here is what I discovered – the power of affirmations depends on the quality of the affirmations. Louise Hay is a master of making affirmations meaningful. As I rode along on my electric bike, through Melbourne’s morning traffic with a light rain cooling the air, I found myself smiling. Stopped to wait at the lights, I stretched my arms wide and felt my spine strengthen. Her warm words refuelled me, crowding out my dark thoughts and replacing them with joy and confidence.

Action keeps the darkness away

Am I saying that affirmations are the only way to change your mindset? I am not, although I would encourage you to try Hay’s podcasts – they are powerful. But there is a key that unlocks the door to a happier more confident state of mind: taking action. I am not talking about mindless doing here – distraction, chatter, busyness. I am talking about acknowledging my state of mind. It was a text from my sister-in-law this morning that helped me to recognise my state of mind, accept it and its impact on me, and take action to overcome it.

The question shifts from how am I feeling today, so how can I shift to a positive mindset today? It might be meditation, a walk, talking to a good friend, reading from a book that changes your mindset. It might be a rest, a session of yoga (I find that 5 minutes in Vipirita Kirani often works), or a nutritious meal.

Does it always work? Mostly. Does it always pass? Absolutely. Even if I do nothing, negative states pass (if they don’t pass, it’s time to see your GP).

Mindset is the most significant barrier to publishing your book

If you want to publish a book, take action on the not-good-enough mindset. It is an essential skill. Notice I said ‘publish’ a book. It is possible to write a book while staying in the not-good-enough mindset, although it is hard. But I’ve noticed that it is almost impossible to publish one with a shrinking mindset. We need a straight spine and a big smile to publish a book. What is your path to ‘good enough’?

PS: Want more? You might like: The Remarkable Power of Finishing

 

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