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on negative chatter and being brave

{above: ‘Sound Your Call’ print available here}

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about confidence. About stepping more fully into my own voice. About allowing myself time to rest and not feel guilty about it. About doing my best to live in the moment. Some days I do well, others are more of a struggle. But I guess that’s life, right? A constant practice and a funny little dance of moving forward and backward, learning lessons.
That’s what my most recent paintings are about.
I went to the World Domination Summit over the weekend, and, as weird as this is going to sound, it made me realize where I’m not stepping up in my life — where I shrink back, where I let myself get roped into doing something I don’t want to do, where I let people overstep my boundaries, where I don’t step forward when I want to. And I totally don’t mean this in a negative way– it was actually really eye opening in a super cool and good way.
There was a lot of talk at the conference about owning your story, and about living a remarkable life in an ordinary world, about asking for what you want/need and risking, about being brave. Many of the speakers dove right into personal stories of times they felt shame, or made mistakes, or failed, of when they were really scared but got into action anyway. It was really inspiring. My favorite people are ones who are humble, and maybe a little bit self-depricating, but in a way that you can tell they actually find themselves quite charming. Do you know what I mean? Like, not self-depricating in an “I suck” kind of way, but in a way that shows you they don’t take themselves too seriously and they get that everyone makes mistakes and that we’re all in this together. Darren Rowse‘s talk was like that. He was just so cool.
{above: ‘Rest Here’ print available here}
There was one particular moment that was really impactful for me. It might seem insignificant, but it was a real turning point. Hopefully it’ll make a difference for someone reading this, too, because it sure made a difference for me!
So, Don Miller was the last speaker at the conference, and he was FANTASTIC, as I mentioned yesterday. I learned that he was from Oregon, and I wondered if he lived in Portland. The next thought that crossed my mind was “Wow, I’d love to have dinner with him and become his friend. Wouldn’t that be so cool?” And immediately the negative self-talk kicked in: “Who do you think you are? He’s a best-selling author! Why would he want to be friends with you?” “You must be crazy, he’s way smarter than you — what in the world would you talk about?” That sort of thing. Sound familiar? I think we probably all have those kinds of thoughts sometimes. They’re so annoying!
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And what I realized in that moment was this: I let that kind of negative chatter stop me from all kinds of things. Without even noticing it while it’s happening! But when I noticed those thoughts and paid attention to them, and I realized they were just coming from a place of fear and self-doubt, that helped dispel them a bit and took some of their power away. And that opened up a tiny space where some creativity could come in — “OK, if I were to try to make Don Miller be my friend and have dinner with me, what would be the first step?”  Dispelling fears brings about new questions.
And I also realized this: I don’t want to be someone who lets that negative inner voice decide what I do, who I get to be friends with, or what’s possible for me. I want to make bold moves and have amazing experiences! Yeah, it’s a scarier way of living, but I think you miss a lot by not living that way. And, according to Jia Jiang, another speaker at the conference, if you just get brave enough to ask, people will often surprise you and say YES. Huh, imagine that?!
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So, unfortunately I probably won’t ask Don Miller to dinner, because he actually lives in Washington DC, but you can bet that I’m going to start reading his blog, and who knows? Maybe we can become internet friends. :)
{above: ‘You Are Here’ print available here}


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