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Linda Dessau : Trying to Create from Distorted Perceptions?

Are You Trying to Create from Distorted Perceptions?

By Linda Dessau

We've all met people who are "negative" — negative thinkers who consistently see the glass as half empty.

In certain situations, particularly stressful ones, even the most positive person can fall victim to this distorted thinking. As a creative artist, this kind of thinking can keep us away from our art and can keep us from enjoying it even when we manage to keep at it.

Distorted Perceptions Seem Real to Us

I've recently started performing at a monthly "open mic" event, and it's been a very positive experience. This is a big change from the intense stage fright I used to have. Back then, as the sign-up sheet was being passed around from table to table, I probably would have been thinking:

"I just KNOW I'm going to screw up."

This is an example of "predictive" thinking — when we're sure we know how something will turn out, or what someone else is thinking. Predictive thinking tends to come true (have you heard of the term "a self-fulfilling prophecy"), so be careful about what you're consciously predicting! If that's something you can imagine yourself thinking, try this thought on instead:

"I can't know exactly what will happen, so I'm going to aim to have a great time up there!" Imagine how different your performance will be with THAT thought instead of the first one.

Or maybe I would have thought:

"I'm so nervous — I'm never going to be good at performing!"

This is an example of black and white thinking. We're either good at something or we're bad at it. There are only two options, with nothing in between. This doesn't give us any room to learn, explore, grow, fail, try again or get better. Try this thought, instead:

"I'm becoming a better and more experienced performer every time I do it."

Imagine the difference to your performance!

Put It Into Play

Choose one of your creative goals. Now, write down all of the thoughts you have about it. Just vent everything — whatever comes to mind (use a computer keyboard if that's easier for you).

Watch for any patterns of distorted perception. Are you predicting how something will turn out? Are you using black & white thinking?

When you come across an example of distorted perception, write down a more positive thought that challenges it.

Predictive thinking and black & white thinking are just two examples of the many ways our creativity can fall victim to distorted perceptions. Watch out for these so that the true voice of your creativity can be heard. •

© Copyright Linda Dessau, 2005. All rights reserved.

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3/29/05