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Emotions, Motivation, and Your Unconscious Mind

Motivation. Literally, that which impels us to move. That’s how we use the word: the feeling that makes us act—in that order: feeling, then action.

Motivation is also created by action. Ask anyone who has grudgingly started a project only to discover that going through the motions ends in motivation.

You’ve felt it yourself when taking on some new business, relationship, spirituality, or personal development challenge. Eventually you hit what Seth Godin calls the dip. We all have days where it’s hard to get going, to stay focused. Often it just takes a little push to get through the dip. Sometimes though, that off day turns into an off week or an off month. Instead of the upward spiral of motivation and action, we’re stuck. We need motivation to create action but need action to create motivation and we get nowhere.

Getting Unstuck

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Your Unconscious is Not a Terrorist. You Are Allowed to Negotiate.

Preservation of life is your unconscious mind’s primary function. Beyond breath and hunger it uses another tool to keep you alive: alertness to danger.

Because your unconscious is an ethereal non-physical entity, non-physical threats weigh the same as the physical. Whether the light at the end of the tunnel is the headlamp of an oncoming train or a painful memory, the instinctive response is avoidance. Run from danger; that’s what your unconscious does. Most of the time, it’s a good bodyguard.

You’ve seen it in a movie or TV show: protected VIP convinces overzealous bodyguard to allow some latitude, provided safeguards are in place. Sure, kid, you can go to the zoo, but we’ll have a tracking device in your shoe and men in black at every gate.

Your unconscious is a bodyguard trying to protect you, not a terrorist trying to take you down.

a conversation with your unconscious

What if you could negotiate some free time, give your bodyguard the morning off so you could write from your heart, pouring it all out, wheat and chaff together, spilling some of that internal truth onto the page? What if, for a little while, you made your unconscious feel safe, so it would stay out of the way while you go on a hot date with a great scene for your novel?

You can. Here’s how. Continue reading “Your Unconscious is Not a Terrorist. You Are Allowed to Negotiate.”

Macabre Dance with Your Unconscious

Have you ever done something, or thought something, you’re ashamed of?

Uncomfortable as it is, dredge up that memory. We’ll be using it for today’s exercise.

The purpose of our experiment is to demonstrate the effect on our conscious when we try to write something our unconscious doesn’t want written.

Find a place you feel safe. Sit by the fire, if you can, or if that’s not possible, have a shredder under your desk. You’ll want access to methods of rapid complete destruction.

Are you sitting uncomfortably? Good. Let’s begin.

this is where the wicked writing goes

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Where Art Comes From When You Don’t Know Where It Comes From

fear needles usSometimes art is ground out one step at a time. I’ve done that, and even produced things I’m proud of that way.

Sometimes, art spurts out like mustard from the sun-stricken picnic table. When this happens to me, it always produces something I love.

Once we have the basic skills, writing is a combination of persistence and getting out of your own way. More precisely, getting your conscious, the prefrontal cortex which usually drives the bus; er, your brain, out of the way of your unconscious, including the limbic system where your emotions live, the amygdala where your fears live, and other scary medical terms where other important truths hide out.

To be sure, it is the job of our conscious mind to navigate, to step in when unconsciousness won’t do.

For a writer, that stage is editing, not writing. Continue reading “Where Art Comes From When You Don’t Know Where It Comes From”

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Have a Decision to Make

What about pausing when the writing gets hard? Ah; this is a place for nice judgment and some brain science.

mind the mindWhen a mental project such as solving a puzzle or overcoming a design challenge becomes difficult, there are two options: push through, or take a break to allow your unconscious to gnaw on the problem without your pesky conscious mind interfering.

How does one know when to do which?

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A Second Chance for First Impressions

We all know the cliché: “You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.” Opinions formed during the first moments of a relationship are usually long-lasting. This leads to all sorts of social manipulation to make a good impression: dressing your best, smiling a lot, leaning forward in your chair, all that stuff the job-hunting websites write about.

Recent science teaches us that’s less effective than the advice your mom always used to give you: “Just relax and be yourself!”

Why do first impressions matter? Do we have any control over them?

surprise: not the best first impression
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Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid. NOT.

The single biggest reason you haven’t written a book, or don’t blog, or haven’t written a letter to a loved one, for that matter, is fear.

Yeah, I know; you’re busy. You can’t think of what to write. The dog ate your computer. As I used to say to my middle daughter, what-HEV-urrr.
Continue reading “Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid. NOT.”

You Can Do Anything for 5 Minutes

I sometimes share this writing exercise (or rather, who-cares-whether-you’re-writing-or-not exercise) with authors who are stuck, who just can’t make the time to write.

You can do anything for 5 minutes. Even if you hate it, you can do dishes, mow the lawn, listen to jazz, even watch bowling on TV, if it’s only 5 minutes. Knowing that this ordeal will end, and even more, when it will end, fills your unconscious mind’s need for control.
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