Mental Habits that Support Success

I like to draw upon helpful ideas wherever I find them.  Here are three good ones from Isabel De Los Rios.

1.        I start each and every morning with a gratitude list.  This is non-negotiable.  It takes me no more than 3 minutes and it changes my spirits for the entire day.  How’s setting aside 3-5 minutes for a joyous rest of the day?  Worth it, right?   I write “I am so grateful for…” and then just write, write and write.  For me that list always includes my family, my health and my work.  I wouldn’t start any day without this.

I like doing this because it’s so easy to lose sight of what we already have achieved when we’re focused on working toward what we want.

2.       I go to sleep each night playing my personal mind movie in my head as I go to sleep.  What is a personal mind movie?  Basically, it’s you imagining yourself looking, feeling and doing whatever it is you would do if you achieved your … goals.…  This approach helps me to fall asleep happy and is much better than lying there thinking about all the things I have to do the next day or harping on stressful events.  I sleep so much better at night like this.

I’ve heard of some writers creating their own book covers (even before self-publishing was a viable alternative to traditional publishing) so they could visualize their future success.  You could also imagine yourself receiving a desired award, write potential reviews, or design bestseller lists with your book on top.  This may sound silly, but athletes use these visualization techniques all the time.

3.       Only talk to yourself as you would a small child….  Would you tell your children all day long that they were never going to achieve their goals, that they should stop trying or that they shouldn’t even try in the first place?  No, I sure hope you wouldn’t.  You would encourage them, give them hope, and tell them that anything is possible with hard work.  Treat yourself, in your own mind, the way you would want to speak to your children or better yet, the way you would want others to speak to your children or speak to you.

This last one is something I was thinking about just last week.  I’m not a big fan of new-age talk, but I do think it’s true that deep down our emotions (which motivate our actions) are often those of the children we once were.  It makes sense to nurture that inner child.  As Isabel observes, we’d never speak to a flesh and blood person the way we often talk to ourselves.

I’ve caught myself thinking in a vague, wordless way, “You haven’t succeeded in the past, and you won’t this time either.”  Where the hell did that load of malarkey come from?  The vagueness is the red-flag. When I stop and put this message into words so I can examine it, I recognize it for the lie it is.  I have, in fact, succeeded in the very areas I’m so critical of myself.

Even if you haven’t yet attained your “big” goal, that doesn’t invalidate what you have achieved.  Don’t let vague, unexamined, false messages stop you from moving toward your success.  Do set short-term, measurable goals on your way to “success,” however you define it.  Do examine, if you’re not making progress, what behaviors are getting in your way.

And when you do succeed, as you will, don’t expect it to solve all your problems.  You set yourself up for disappointment when you do.  (I didn’t really succeed because getting published/losing weight didn’t change my life.) Many of the issues you want your success to solve for you will still be there.  You’ll still have to deal with them.  That doesn’t mean success isn’t worth reaching for.  It is.  Just recognize what it is, and isn’t.  It’s a measurable acheivment to build your next success upon.  It’s not a panacea.

Now get out there.  Be grateful.  Visualize your success. Be kind.  And get to work.


Filed under Life, writing

6 responses to “Mental Habits that Support Success

  1. Plenty of good stuff in this post! Thanks, Frankie.
    When I get to the ‘talk nicely to your inner child’ part, I keep asking her if she’d like another cookie… 🙂

  2. Benita

    But if you REALLY loved that child, would you be giving her a cookie if a cookie is not what she needed? How about a hug and a favorite story, or finger-painting with permission to get as messy as humanly possible?

    I’ve worked with children, and been around them as both a parent and volunteer and so I am saddened, but not SHOCKED at how awful the things are that we say to ourselves…because WE heard the people in our lives (the people who were supposed to love us more than anything) say those things TO us.

    Sometimes they used words. Sometimes it was a weary sigh, a facial expression, a prohibition against doing a certain task because we wouldn’t be able to do it “right.” Sometimes it was them subtley comparing us with other children or some ideal standard that let us know we weren’t quite “enough” in some way.

    Listen and look for it the next time you are shopping, eating out, or some place with lots of children. Then think back to your own childhood, and you will find where that mysterious, judgmental, angry or dissapointed voice in your head came from.

    Children are very black and white and magical in their thinking. And being told “You are such a slob” or even silence when making mistakes and receiving affection ONLY when something is done “perfectly” shapes the inner rules and beliefs we set for ourselves.

    And I think rather than “vague”, I would use the term “global”…watch out for those inner statemtents that tell you WHAT you ARE rather than something about what you DID. “That was a lousy meal” vs. “I am a lousy cook.” “I just can’t say no to chocolate cake” vs. “I gave into temptation last night.”

    If you are uncomfortable with the inner child stuff, then think of it this way…would you treat a FRIEND like that? Would you want to have a friend that said those type of things to you?

    • Benita, I quite agree with what you’re saying here, though I think the “cookie” was both humorous and metaphorical.

      When I was thinking about this earlier, I was considering it as an opportunity to “renurture” my inner child, to unlearn old, unhelpful patterns of thought, and be patient and tolerant of behavior and thoughts that “don’t fit.”

      “Global” is a good word and you bring up an important point mentioning it. Sometimes we don’t know we’re even making those global statements to ourselves until we nail down vague assumptions with specific words. Only then can we recognize the flaw in our “programming.”

      • Wonderful post, thank you! One of the things I remember being told during childhood (when my mom was into a lot of new age seminars and dragged me along) was to use only positive words when doing mind programming exercises or self-hypnosis. That is, to think, “Every cell in my lungs is healthy and fully functional” instead of “There is no illness in my lungs.” The reasoning behind it was that using the words “no” and “illness” were detrimental because the brain is literal and doesn’t distinguish context. No idea how true that is, but it makes good sense that using gentle, positive language is the ideal way to deal with your own brain and shift the more tape-recorder like thoughts which might be negative toward something more positive.

  3. keryncameronaryn

    Thank you — exactly what I needed today.

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