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Dawn Walton

Spring 2015

Create The Headspace To Allow Ideas to Flow

Let Your Creativity Have A Voice

Do you ever have that thing just before you fall asleep where loads of ideas dive into your head? Then you nod off and when you wake up in the morning they are all gone. Have you ever wondered why that is?

I have a theory. All those fears of failure, looking stupid, and basically any of our insecurities, which inhibit our creativity disappear as you fall asleep. Your brain goes into filing and sorting mode, which means your subconscious is distracted. With your subconscious distracted there is nothing to drive those insecurities and so your conscious mind is free to think. Bingo! In come all those thoughts that have been held at bay throughout the day.

When you have an idea, what’s your first thought? Is it that people will think you are daft? Is it that it’s bound to fail because everything else has? Is it that someone else has probably had that idea first so there is no point you doing anything with it? These are all thoughts that come from insecurities in your subconscious. 90% of the day your subconscious is watching out for you. It’s on full alert looking for stuff that is going to hurt you and trying to keep you away from it. First line of defence is emotional and the second line of defence is physical. It won’t let anything hurt you.

So if you have experienced feeling stupid and are worried about looking daft with a new idea, what do you think is going to happen? Your subconscious is going to do whatever it can to protect you from that feeling. So it won’t let you risk it. As a result you don’t do anything with that idea.

The biggest limiter to creativity is caring what happens.

The biggest limiter to your ability to have creative thoughts is not your capabilities, but your beliefs about your capabilities. The only limitation to what you can do is you.

I learnt this a long time ago. I have never let my insecurities and fears limit what I have done. I had a totally rubbish childhood and as a result I went to University believing that life was pointless. But once I was there I realised that I could be whoever I wanted to be. No one really knew what was going on inside my head. I learnt to ignore everything in my head that told me I couldn’t do stuff, that it was too scary. I learnt to do it anyway. I should have been called Nike (Just do it!).

I had a career that involved travelling the world giving business advice to organisations. I delivered talks to rooms of over 100 people. I was very successful and got promoted to the point where I was on a 6 figure salary. I had a family that I loved more than the world itself (although I didn’t realise it until I had help from Trevor Silvester.) All that time I was terrified. Everything I did was scary. But I did it anyway.

I gave my job up to go into business for myself as a full time Cognitive Hypnotherapist. I put my future and my family’s future at risk because I believed I could help people. I had ideas. Ideas for how I could reach people. As many people as possible. I didn’t care if I only helped a little bit – as long as I helped.

If I had an idea I did it. If I have an idea I do it.

I don’t allow other people’s opinions to limit what I do. They are not me. They do not live my life. They do not have to live with the consequences of my actions. Many people would call that stubborn. I prefer “determined”!

As a result of that determination I have a thriving therapy practice. A year and a half after going full time I have offices in Dundee and Aberdeen. In addition I do 50% of my therapy online – something not many people feel comfortable offering. I have an app in the appstore, I have 3 books (2 self published and one with a publisher). I have a YouTube channel and my most popular self-help video on Anxiety has over 2700 views.

So exactly how do I balance being creative and productive?

Listen for the insecure voice and ignore it.

Use other people to help you see things in different ways. Don’t use other people to validate the way you see things.

For example:

When I came up with a name for my business I got a few friends together on Facebook chat and told them the sort of thing I was looking for. We bounced words back and forth. I got as many ideas from the words I didn’t like as I did from the words I did. Between us we came up with Think it, Change it. But the decision to go with Think it, Change it was mine, not theirs – irrespective of how much input they had.

For every negative thought ask so what? For every answer that pops into your head, if it is based on fear, spin it around until it becomes the opposite.

For example:

I started doing MP3 downloads so that people could benefit from what I did without having to fork out to come and see me. In some ways this goes against the belief of Cognitive Hypnotherapy that we are all unique. So what? It might not work for some people. So what? Then they could think you are rubbish because it doesn’t work for them. That’s a negative thought. I spun it around. So what? But it will work for some people and it’s not all or nothing. It’s not the case of “if it won’t work for some then no one should get it”. So I started doing downloads. And they do work for most. And they don’t work for some. That’s ok. Nothing works for everyone anyway.

Clear a space for the thoughts.

Find a way to get your subconscious out of the way so that you can use your pre-frontal cortex to work your way through stuff.

For example:

I learnt a long time ago that my head gets in the way. So when I need to do something the first step is to distract my subconscious. When I wrote my latest book, The Caveman Rules of Survival, it took me 4 months. And you have no idea how many levels of Candy Crush I managed to complete in that time! As I write this article I have Facebook games in the background, a Twitter feed with a couple of conversations, music playing and a thread going on an online forum. Distracting my brain with so many things allows me the clarity to have thoughts that I can write here.

If I want to work my away around a problem I will go for a run. I am rubbish at running and it takes quite an effort to run without getting too knackered. In fact, it takes so much effort that my subconscious is totally distracted by it – leaving my conscious mind free to think.

Just do it.

For example

People often ask me how I find time to do so much. I never run out of time. Time is relative and what you do with it is really just a matter of priorities.

When you have a bunch of stuff to do, how do you go about it? Do you try and work out what to do and when? Do you juggle stuff around wondering how you will fit it all in until you reach a point where you are left with the stuff that needs doing RIGHT NOW at the cost of all the other things? I don’t. If I need to do something, I do it. If I have too many things to do I write them down. I make sure that I don’t take up space in my head with thinking about what I have to do. I need that space for having ideas and solving problems. The reason I don’t run out of time is because I just do it. If something needs doing I sit down and do it. In fact, the thing I struggle most with is stuff that needs doing every day. I can’t just do that and it causes me all sorts of problems!

And I have the advantage of not caring about perfection. Caring about perfection is a sign that you have a fear – a fear of failure, consequences, looking stupid. I don’t care about those things so I just get something out there rather than make sure it’s the best I can do. I am self-aware enough to know that I lack attention to detail anyway. No matter how meticulous I am and how much time I take, I always make mistakes. So better just get something done.

The more you do the more you do

You don’t need to do it to the best of your ability; you just need to do something. Aspiring to perfection often gives you the best reason to avoid it. It is said most of us have a book in us. Sitting down with a blank piece of paper makes it almost impossible to get started. So the trick is to just start writing. It doesn’t matter if it’s nonsense. It is a lot easier to add to something and change something than it is to start from scratch.

So the more you do, the more you will find yourself doing. Get started. Get something down and build on it.

For example:

When I was writing my book I would be out having a run and I would come up with the perfect way to explain something. I would get home and bang out a couple of thousand words. I would often write something that was totally out of context with what I’d already written and then come back to it later to tweak and fit it in.

I think the key to creativity is not finding some magic technique that makes you more creative. I think the key is to find a way of letting your innate creativity have a voice. If you can stop limiting yourself by your beliefs, you might just surprise yourself with what you can achieve. If you can let go of one limiting belief, what would it be?