April 19, 2016
Note From Rochelle
Today’s tip is the second in my series to help you overcome obstacles and write now!
Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach
Stop Your Limiting Beliefs and Write Now!
by Rochelle Melander
I’ve been teaching writing to Middle School Students this spring. When I read to them or demonstrate the assignment, I hear a lot of groans and a few bad words. But nothing compares to the complaining that happens when it’s their turn to write. Some students said, “I don’t understand this.” Or “I can’t write. Ask my teacher.” Others blamed me, “Why’re you making us do this? Why can’t we paint?” And a few just put their heads down and tried to sleep.
After many weeks of struggling to get the students interested and participating, I stepped back and observed. I asked questions. I realized that my students were struggling with limiting beliefs or ideas that were holding them back. Limiting beliefs can be held about oneself, other people, groups, or the world.
What are Limiting Beliefs?
Limiting beliefs often fall into these categories.
+I do/I don’t. (I’m a nonfiction writer. I don’t do fiction.)
+I can’t. (I can’t dance. I can’t write dialogue. I can’t speak in public.)
+I must/mustn’t or should/shouldn’t. (I should clean the house before writing.)
+I am/am not. (I’m not good enough.)
I often hear limiting beliefs phrased like this:
+I want, but. (I want to write, but I’m feeling overwhelmed.)
+I would, but (I would write, but I need more training.)
+I tried, but (I tried to get published, but it’s too hard.)
We’re all susceptible to limiting beliefs. Some of us have a constant stream of negative thoughts running through our heads. (Anne Lamott gave this inner critic the clever name, radio station KFKD.)
And even if we don’t have limiting beliefs of our own, we’re going to run into friends and family members who’re happy to remind us of our limits. Here are a few limiting beliefs I’ve heard:
+You write nonfiction. How can you write fiction without going to school?
+Shouldn’t you get a real job?
+I don’t know how you can leave your children to go to a writing conference.
When limiting beliefs threaten to stop our writing, we need help—and fast. And I’ve got it: Wonder Woman’s Lasso of truth.
Get Out Your Lasso of Truth
Wonder Woman used the Lasso of Truth to trap her enemies and force them to tell the truth. You can use this tool to find the truth behind the lies you tell yourself about writing.
Name the obstacles.
List obstacles. Make a list of the thoughts that have become obstacles for you. These are the ideas that keep you from achieving your goals—writing the book, sending off the query, telling the truth about your life. Examples might be:
+“I’m not a good enough writer to get published.”
+“I’m too busy to write.”
+“I’m not disciplined enough to write a book.”
Record limiting beliefs. If there are additional limiting beliefs that support these thoughts, record those, too. So, let’s say your limiting thought is, “I’m not disciplined enough to write a book.” Behind the thought might be beliefs like, “I can’t stick to an exercise program, how can I write a book?” or “I’ve never written anything that long.” or “I would try, but I’m pretty sure I’d fail.”
Challenge your beliefs. You now have a big old list of limiting thoughts and beliefs that you can challenge. Take out your Lasso of Truth and question those thoughts. Yup, that’s right. Don’t let those beliefs sit there, looking all smug on the page. Challenge them.
Byron Katie is known for challenging the stories that limit us. Use her questions to challenge your beliefs.
+Is that true?
+Can you absolutely know it’s true?
+How do you react or what happens when you believe that thought?
+Who would you be without that thought?
Reverse it and post it. Once you’ve run through your list of questions for the thoughts, try reversing your limiting belief. So, “I’m not disciplined enough to write a book.” Becomes “I have the discipline necessary to write a book.” And, “I am not strong enough to write a book.” becomes, “I’m too strong to write a book, perhaps I should present a speaking series!”
If you find that you like some of these reversals, jot them on an index card and post them!
You Got This!
Once you’ve taken those limiting beliefs, questioned the truth out of them and reversed them, it’s time to get writing. Don’t let the obstacles hold you back from achieving your dream! You got this, writers!