Posts Tagged ‘self-talk’

The Power of Words

I recently had an interesting conversation with a new author acquaintance about the power of words. I took from it two important lessons – one about being kind with our own words, the other about not letting others’ words get in our heads.

This author wrote a historical fiction trilogy in the early 80s, which went on to some modest success, including dont speakwinning a few minor awards. Published by a small Canadian press, he had the opportunity to meet with a couple agents from one of the larger houses with international reach. “Over lunch, one of the agents said something that affected my life for the next 20 years,” he explained. “If you were someone, we’d publish you in a heartbeat.”

Translation: “You’re not famous or important or impressive enough for us to take a risk on you, so we’ll pass. But buck up, old chap. Your books are really good.”

The man explained that he went back to work as a CPA, put his head down, and didn’t write another word for more than two decades. Wow – those are some powerful words. You hear about this all the time: parents, teachers, and other adults who burst children’s dreams, often behind the excuse of “helping them face reality.”

And how often do the rest of us say similar things, usually speaking the first thing that comes into our minds, rather than stopping, considering for a moment, and saying the thing that might be the most useful or helpful? It’s called a filter. Some of us have stronger, better developed filters; others just go with the first thing that pops into our heads – kind, cruel, whatever. If they can’t take the feedback, they shouldn’t share their news with me in the first place.

Why is the negative or critical thought so often our first comment? I’m sure there are many pysch studies to explain the phenomenon – but I think it probably has to do with two things: (1) it’s human nature to try to make ourselves feel better by bringing others – even close friends, our children, our spouses – down a peg, and (2) we’re lazy and sloppy and don’t stop to think before we speak. Ultimately, I believe it’s a bad habit that can be unlearned and replaced with a kinder, more thoughtful one.

So here’s lesson two. Why do we allow ourselves to be so detrimentally affected by others’ words in the first place? Now I can understand a child who grows up with damaged parents who constantly harp on the kid or tell him that he’s stupid or his dreams are stupid or he’ll never amount to anything. That’s some deep karmic energy that’ll likely warrant therapy, hypnosis, and/or lots of reprogramming and rebuilding of self-esteem.

doubt our power

But what about those toss-off phrases, like “If you were someone, we’d publish you in a heartbeat”? Why do we give such power to another person’s negative comments, letting them get inside our heads and literally affect the course of our lives? Why do we doubt our own power? Why do we let others’ words, rather than our own thoughts and self-talk, become the mantra we embrace? Why do we live our lives according to others’ expectations of us, instead of our own? And, most importantly, why do we let others’ expectations of us become our own?

Toss-off comments can also be supportive, but you don’t hear too much about those. Let me share two examples. My sixth grade teacher at St. Agnes Catholic School in Phoenix, Sr. Laurian, told me I had great capacity for words and would someday make writing my life’s work. I took a circuitous path to get here – and yet here I am. Being told you’re good at something when you’re 11 years old sure is validating and gives you plenty of incentive to keep getting better at it.

Then there was time the immigrant farm-worker father of my client introduced her to Cesar Chavez, telling the labor leader, “She will be the next secretary for the United Farm Workers union.”

“No,” Chavez said. “She will become a lawyer who fights for our rights.”

It took her a long time to get there, and she had to fight for every degree and promotion, but my client is now a very well-respected immigration attorney. She was two years old when she met Cesar Chavez, but a toss-off comment from him emblazoned itself on her father’s heart, and he went to every length possible to see her become the amazing advocate she is today.

Ultimately, words have whatever power we give them. But it’s essential that we choose them carefully – for you never know where someone else is in the process of developing a thick skin and the ability to let your words roll off, in the event you are inadvertently (or deliberately) incautious, callous, or just plain lazy.

Here’s to the power of words!



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


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Your thoughts grow the garden of your success – do you want weeds or flowers?

In line at the grocery store yesterday, I overheard a conversation between the clerk and the woman in front of me.  She seemed to be having trouble with the credit card machine until the clerk reassured her it was working properly  albeit a little slowly. “Oh, that’s good. I thought I broke it. That’s usually my job – breaking things.”

YIKES!! My self-sabotage language meter spiked into the red zone! Doesn’t she realize what she’s saying? I almost wondered aloud. If that’s true, it’s no doubt a self-fulfilling prophesy. She tells herself she always breaks things, and lo and behold, she always breaks things.

We’ve talked about how our thoughts and self-talk affect our results before, but I felt compelled to write on it today, because there’s more to this story. As I was getting in my car after purchasing my own groceries, I noticed the same lady pulling out in something of a beat-up sedan. There, on the back of her car was this bumper sticker:

Whatever I might have surmised previously, the language I heard this woman use in the checkout lane wasn’t an anomaly. She probably spends her life wondering why nothing goes her way, and yet she wears the reason right there on her rear bumper: she creates that for herself!

What does this have to do with your success as an author, publisher, speaker, and expert in your field? EVERYTHING! If you’re not seeing the success you want and feel you deserve, a good place to start your examination of why is in your self-talk. What are you telling yourself, day in and day out? Are you constantly reenforcing the message that you’re a great author and people will love reading your books – or are you sending yourself little digs like, “Who’s going to want to read this anyway? There are a hundred other books on this subject all better than mine”?

The thing is, we all do it. Even those of us most practiced at positive self-talk occasionally fall into the trap of self-doubt and self-sabotaging messaging to ourselves. The thing to do about it is recognize it, and then make every effort to reprogram your neural pathways to create positive messages instead. One of the best ways you can do that is by working with a coach, mentor, or other unbiased individual who will help you notice your patterns and adjust them.  Once you start making these adjustments for yourself, however, be ready to begin noticing all the other people out there who are still trapped in self-discouraging language.

Coaching can be viewed one of two ways: as an expense or as an investment. I know for a fact that the $3,000+ I spent on coaching this last calendar year has moved me forward substantially, in terms of my own expectations for myself, as well as in my results.

You certainly don’t have to hire a coach to see positive results, but doing so will help you cut your learning curve to a fraction of what it might be on your own. And if you look at almost every successful person you admire, chances are they have a coach who supports and encourages them to keep on making progress.

I read a quote yesterday that really struck me, a new take on an old aphorism: Don’t believe everything you hear think.

If your thoughts haven’t been so empowering lately, I encourage you to shake them up a bit so you start to see different results!



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


Visit our website to read up on more articles on motivation and other tips for writers, including a couple from my coach, Karen Gridley – the Excuse Remover. If you need help getting out of your own way so you can write, publish, and market YOUR book, call us today for your complimentary 30-minute consultation! 602.518.5376

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Blogging inspiration from my talented artist friend, Lisa Albinger

All artwork used with permission from the artist.

Do you have anyone in your life who is unimaginably talented? They move far beyond passion into transcendence when it comes to their work, art, or gift? I have such a person in my life, the fabulous artist Lisa Albinger. Lisa and I have been friends for a number of years, and I am privileged to own one of her original paintings, Flora. Following her whimsical spirit, Lisa packed up and moved to Oregon a few years ago, but we have kept in touch as she’s come back to visit the Phoenix area and, of course, via Facebook.

The great news is that Oregon’s loss is Phoenix’s gain, as Lisa will again be making the Valley of the Sun her home. We got together for coffee the other day and talked about life, manifesting, art, and … blogs.

Like many people, Lisa is fairly new to blogging, and she’s doing an incredible job! The problem is she fell into the trap that many new bloggers encounter: she got discouraged because although she writes dynamic posts, she wasn’t seeing much response or interest in her blog. Lisa’s been at her art for a long time and has a vibrant following, so perhaps she expected those followers to instantly take an interest in and liking to her blog. But just like blogs are not books, they also are quite different from art. The people who read Lisa’s posts, while they will likely overlap with her longtime fans, are not necessarily one and the same.

I like this explanation by cartoonist Hugh Macleod about why most artists’ blogs fail:

Your typi­cal artist’s blog usually con­sists of little more than a pho­to­graph of the latest art piece, with a brief desc­rip­tion like, “I pain­ted this yes­ter­day. I like how the pur­ple dog clashes with the green sofa.” Or whatever.

But the rea­lity is, most peo­ple are not rea­ding your blog because they have an inhe­rent love for pur­ple dogs and green sofas. They’re rea­ding your blog because THE PERSON YOU ARE ins­pi­res them. They’re not rea­ding your blog because they’re thin­king of buying your pain­tings, they’re rea­ding your blog because the way you approach your work ins­pi­res them. It sets an exam­ple for them. It stands for something that reso­na­tes with them. IT LEADS THEM TO SOMEWHERE THAT THEY ALSO WANT TO GO.

While Lisa’s posts have much more depth than ““I pain­ted this yes­ter­day. I like how the pur­ple dog clashes with the green sofa,” I still think there’s a great deal of truth in Macleod’s comments. People probably read Lisa’s blog for different reasons than they buy her paintings.

AUTHORS, there are several lessons here for you. First – what Macleod says about artists applies largely to you, too. Secondly, go visit Lisa’s blog and see what she’s writing. A handful of the posts I read recently include:

  • The story of finding a book of Paul McCartney’s art (yes, that Paul McCartney) when she was in college that still inspires her today
  • Addressing the question of whether her dog ever makes its cute little way into her art
  • Discussions of her two all-time favorite paintings
  • A description of her experience growing up with scoliosis and how it impacts her art and understanding of time

Interestingly enough, authors frequently want to know what to blog about. Take a page or two out of Lisa’s book. What art lover wouldn’t want to know which kinds of art inspire another artist? Likewise, who among your readers wouldn’t be interested in hearing about the process of writing your book? How did you develop your characters? Where were you when the first inspiration for the book hit you? Which authors inspire you?

Lisa, PLEASE keep blogging! And authors, if you’re not blogging yet, start! If you started and stopped, get going again! And if you’ve been steadily at it for a while, keep posting!

Here’s my all-time favorite painting by Lisa…

Wishing you massive doses of inspiration!



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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Advice-giving can be a dangerous business

If you propose to speak, always ask yourself:
Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?
— Buddha

A friend used to tease that my instincts as an editor must make life challenging for me because I see the errors or problems in so many situations. While that’s not an utterly inaccurate assessment, I prefer to view it as often seeing ways to improve things.

However, since I’m neither omniscient nor infallible, my way to improve things is usually just my opinion and/or suggestion. Unless, of course, it is a case of noticing something that is just flat-out incorrect.

Such is the situation with the current Infinity commercial, in which the announcer says, “If everyone accepted the status quo, the world would still be flat.” Actually, no. The world was never flat, so it could not still be flat. Even following the analogy they seemed to be attempting to its logical conclusion, chances are, by this date in 2012, someone other than Aristotle (384-322 BC; argued in his writings that the earth was spherical) or Columbus (1451-1506; reached India by sailing west from Spain because he knew the planet was round) would have long since proven the orbed nature of the earth.

Other frequent observations I make include people’s self-talk. Things like, “I’m always so broke,” or “You just watch. I’m sure I’m going to get fired.” This also goes for our blogs, Facebook posts, and the ways we interact with people. Since we empower the thoughts we give the most attention, why do we so often focus on the things we don’t want? Want to get in shape, publish your book, or find true love? It’s probably not going to happen if you focus on how fat you are, how much you don’t know about publishing, or how all the guys out there are jerks. (For more on this, I recommend two excellent books: Mike Dooley’s Infinite Possibilities and Sandra Anne Taylor’s Secrets of Attraction.)

Perhaps the most obvious observation comes with books: I can tell within a paragraph or two whether or not an author has had his or her work professionally edited. The worst thing is when the author is someone I know, and the subject matter is good but the book itself is terrible because they didn’t bother to hire an editor.

My challenge is: What, if anything, should I do about it?

Think about a little thing like having a grain of pepper stuck in your teeth or forgetting to zip your fly. Would you prefer to have someone tell you, or would your pride make that kind of comment too embarrassing to hear? Then amplify that a hundred-fold. Having someone tell you, “Your book really isn’t very good” is probably a lot like hearing “Your baby is ugly,” except in the case of the book, things can be done to improve it.

Quite a number of years ago, I was in a lousy relationship and bought a self-help program called Light His Fire, by Ellen Kreidman. She offered a money-back guarantee if the program didn’t help salvage your relationship, no matter how bad it was. Though my relationship turned out to be unsalvageable, I didn’t request a refund because I learned so many other important things from her program. One of those was a lesson that applies to this topic of advice. Kreidman’s suggestion: Unless someone specifically asks your opinion or advice, keep your mouth shut. And by and large, I think she is correct. We don’t do people favors by going around offering unsolicited advice or making them wrong. When they want your advice, Kreidman suggests, they will ask for it.

Hmmm… That still doesn’t really address my challenge. If I hear or see something I know could be vastly improved, what, if anything, should I do about it? Should I go my merry way, knowing a blogger is self-sabotaging her success or that an author is unlikely to find the publisher they’re seeking, given the current state of their book?

One suggestion from coaching circles is to ask, “Are you open to some feedback?” I think this works in certain situations — but it also can create an awkward impasse. What if the person really isn’t open to feedback but feels pressured to say they are? And what is the motivation behind my need to give the feedback in the first place? Is it really altruistic, or is it in some way intended to build myself up? In my situation as an editor, I would never want the person to think I’m ginning for business by insulting them, which is why I will probably never tell someone who doesn’t ask that their book really needs editing.

I’d love to hear your opinions on this! Have you ever offered unsolicited advice? Do you appreciate when others tell you, “You know what you should do…”? Would you want someone who had an expert opinion to give it to you if you didn’t ask for it? Tell us what you think in the comment section below…



We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.


Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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