Stop Negative Thoughts and Be Creative!

How think more creatively

Most of us would like to think more creatively. I would. As human beings, we dream every night and play out all kinds of creative scenes. Writing is my thing, so I want my mind to be filled with new thoughts. I love it when new characters, scenes or plot ideas pop into my head, but I wish they would appear more often. With such an over-active mind, how do I do that?

In one of my first meditation classes at Wanderlust Yoga Festival, I learned that up to 90% of our thoughts are old and repetitive.

Wow. I consider myself a creative thinker, so I was horrified that much of my time is wasted.

The instructor explained there are many kinds of old thoughts. The most common are negative. We play out scenes where we have felt loss or have been wounded long ago. They’re on a loop. We replay them over and over again. There is nothing we can do about these scenes. They happened. They’re in our past. Most of the time these loops make us feel bad, guilty, or fill us with regret. Not only do we hold them in our minds, we hold them in our muscles, our gut, our heart, our bones. It’s not healthy.

We think about the people in our lives who misunderstand us.

They live in our present. We regurgitate our latest conversations. They may be one of our acquaintances, a co-worker, or a neighbor. Their negative impact can hold us back in some way when their unkind words make us doubt ourselves. We don’t need more doubt. We have enough as it is. Everyone is on a path, but these people seem to trip us up. These “viral” loops in our brain make us feel inadequate. For some strange reason, we continue to regurgitate them anyway. We add them to our already heavy load. We are sensitive human beings.

On top of that, we have worries and fear.

They live in our future. They are the worst. We make plans and try to control what happens. A certain amount of planning is important, but what if the expectations become huge? It can paralyze us. I have held off sending emails that could further my career in writing because of the fear of a typo, an awkward sentence or a rejection. Instead, I hesitated and had to build up my confidence before pressing send.

There is also the fear of choosing the right path. What if we made a wrong turn somewhere? We may have faltered, twisted and turned around, or may have been seduced by sparkly things along the way. How do we know?

resolutions illustrationAll of these thoughts weigh us down. They take up the majority of our time. In order to free up space for creativity, we shouldn’t think about something that happened last month or ten years ago. The negative people in your life? They aren’t worth your time either. Obsessing about the future doesn’t help since it’s more out of our control than we think and it never turns out exactly how we plan, anyway. So make your plan and move along.

Sound easy? It is.

I say this because I stumbled upon part of this technique before the yoga adventure.

When I received a request for my full manuscript, I was so excited! Then I panicked. Over the previous two weeks, a few new ideas had popped into my head. There were a couple inconsistencies that needed to be fixed. Since they had bubbled up at weird times during the day, I hadn’t written them down. I couldn’t remember what they were. I was leaving town! I had a doctor’s appointment at 2:00! It was noon! I had two hours!

What would I do?

My stomach knotted while all kinds of negative thoughts popped into my head. I didn’t have time to sit and read through 370 pages, but I wanted to send it as soon as possible. Timing is everything.

I stared at my laptop on the kitchen counter and then I looked down at the rug. It was worth a try. After getting comfortable on the floor, I took a deep breath and tried to clear my frantic mind. I concentrated on my breath (this may sound weird), and stared at the insides of my eyelids. I took several deep breaths and thought about my main character. Then I drifted over (and I mean barely thought about), a few plot points and BAM! Those five corrections popped into my head.

Instead of thinking, I freed my mind and listened.

This happened because I calmed myself and stepped away from the source of stress. Breathing does that. In two three, out two three. Over and over until the heart rate slows and our brains fill with oxygen.

In the case above, I had thought about these corrections before, but only momentarily. I had been in that creative space when they were formed, so I had to get back into that level of calm and relaxed thinking in order to bring them back.

If you’re facing a brain block, sometimes it gets worse if you try to force it. That’s when we are using the wrong part of the brain. I don’t believe good books get written with the cerebral cortex. It’s too logical. Creative thinking has to come from that dreamlike state where the book flows like a movie. I write what I see in my mind’s eye.

I set aside time to write creatively and try to hit between 1000-2000 words. If I’m having a problem settling down, I do what I did when I panicked. I slow my breathing. I think about my last scene and the characters. I try to come up with the most interesting event that could happen, the worst-case scenario, or a way to reveal something new. Then I start writing.

At the festival, I learned another way to become more creative. By letting go of all those negative, unwanted, or unneeded thoughts, the brain can flow to new ideas . The process of letting go makes room for them.

Imagine them as black smoke deep inside your bones, your muscles, your gut. Breathe them out. Get rid of them. You don’t have the time for old negativity.

It’s funny, how it feels weird to let them go. It’s as if we’ve clung to them for protection, but they don’t protect us. They hurt us. They keep our wounds open, so they don’t heal.

The first three days of the festival, all of my old wounds broke wide open. It was scary, at first to be so vulnerable. I had to think about them, so I could finally release them.

Negative memories and thoughts hold us back. They undermine our confidence. We’ve learned our lessons. We don’t need reminders of misunderstandings or mistakes. They need to go back to where they belong. In our past.

Just the fact that 90% of our thoughts are old, changed my thinking.

When something bad happens, I let myself have time to think about it. Then I let it go. It’s not worth my time.

resolution illustrationI thought I had to go out and fix everything by doing, but I was wrong. I needed to accept who I am and chill. Everything will ebb and flow the way it’s supposed to if we trust we are on the right path and keep working hard toward our goals. We need to quiet our minds, so we can listen to our sub-conscious thoughts, stop forcing everything to solve problems, and be.

We are human beings after all.

Are you able to let go of negative thinking? How does the creative process flow for you?

Click for more adventure on my Wild Ride.

Another inspiring post for you!

37 thoughts on “Stop Negative Thoughts and Be Creative!

  1. Interesting post. As I dried my hair this morning, I was thinking about all sorts of old negative stuff and wondering what I could do about it. And then BAM! I find your post. Go figure. I will work on letting go!

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  2. Very fascinating post, and I really enjoy your writing. That is great advice for anyone, to let go of negative thoughts so that one can have more room (and essentially time) for creative thinking. Do you do the illustrations yourself?

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  3. Good for you. You took the classes to heart. I try the deep calming breathing techniques, but they don’t always work. It’s so good when the brain gets rebooted though. It’s funny how so many people will make a concerted effort to eat healthy to take care of their bodies, but forget about purging the bad stuff from their brains. Shouldn’t the brain come first?

    Patricia RIckrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

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    • It should! I had practiced yoga for years knowing that it did something to my brain, but the teachers didn’t point out the benefits. Every teacher in every class talked about letting go. It wasn’t the theme and most teachers didn’t know each other. It seems to be the building block or starting point of yoga. Danny and I talked about the strange calm that has come over us. I sure hope it lasts! 🙂

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  4. I’m heading to one of these festivals in October. I hope to learn a thing or two as well. It’s incredible how powerful our thoughts can be and how much we us them to sabotage ourselves, more than enlightening ourselves. Interesting read Susie! You hit a nerve with me on this one.

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    • Thanks for sharing it, Al! It does drag us down and yet if we don’t realize we’re in a habit of negative thinking, it will continue. I can stop those thoughts now. Pretty powerful stuff.

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    • I have a few that have haunted me for years. Just being conscious of them helps. It’s amazing how much time we all waste with memories we can’t do anything about. Now when I regurgitate something, I recognize what I’m doing and stop. 🙂

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  5. Don’t listen to yoga or meditation teachers I practised them for decades until I gave them up and took up Tai chi of which I’m a teacher Yoga and meditation don’t lead to creativity on the contrary they can block it because they put people in a box. Tai chi is much more creative because is fluid beautiful and can stimulate creativity is done in a creative way. I used to teach creativity to little children and nowadays I sometimes teach it in many ways to adults especially older people as a form of healing and Tai chi is one of the techniques that I use. Creativity stems from curiosity and also from the love of experimenting and finding out that is what children like to do all the time in order to discover and learn. Also from not being afraid of doing mistakes because from mistakes very often come creative ideas and discoveries. In order to be creative one must be, again like a child, playful and enjoying what one does.

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    • I’m not sure you read the whole article. I said that getting rid of negative thoughts frees the mind up to spend more of it in creative thought. We can’t do that if it’s spent thinking in negative loops. Meditation totally works for me and yoga does too. Yoga teachers have never put me in a box and if they did, I wouldn’t stay there. Ha!
      I would like to try Tai chi, but I wouldn’t compare them. Everyone needs to find what’s right for them. Everyone is different!
      Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. My creative process? When it’s right I don’t think at all. I have a couple of pre-shoot routines I go through to gain clarity. That’s all. I try to live by some words by that famous philosopher Yogi Berra. Once, when he as in a hitting slump his manger said to him, “Think, Yogi, Think.” Berra turned around and said, “You want my to think and hit???”

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  7. Found my way back to your blog after a long absence from WordPress and this was the first post I read. Not only is it really inspiring and stimulating, but it’s written very well. I felt engaged throughout the whole piece and I loved to read your personal voice. I’m no literary critic or professional editor, just someone who likes to read and write, but I thought I would let you know that I dig your writing style.

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  8. Hi! I just found your blog and am so glad I did!
    My “trickster” (that’s what I call my negative voice) has it’s way with me sometimes. My favorite mindset feels joyful, acts playfully, and enjoys the process as much as (or more) than the outcome. My least favorite mind-space occurs when I am trying too hard, when external validation, rather than internal motivation, takes precedence. I remind myself, when the trickster starts to speak, that I have a choice. I can write a blog post, or that next chapter from a place of lightness, or I can make it a drudgery. The words don’t care either way. The outcome of what ends up on the page might even be exactly the same. But, my attachment to whether what I’ve written will be appreciated changes. If I loved the “doing” then it doesn’t matter as much if anyone else loves it too. I’ve already received my reward. Of course I want others to feel connected to my work, but if I write from my heart, I believe others will feel it too. Thank you for the post! I’m a new subscriber too!
    Angela

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    • I’m glad to hear that it helped. Being aware of that nasty habit is the first step! Now when I feel myself thinking about something I’ve thought about many times, I stop and look for sparkly things. Ha!
      Thanks for stopping by, Suzie!

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