"No" is not my favorite word. I don't love it when a big old "no" comes at me, especially when it is coming FROM me.
We live in a world of contrast. "Yes" is as meaningful as it is, as joyful as it is, only after you have had an experience (or several) of "No."
Every adult you have ever met was a recalcitrant child once, who did not want to do what was being asked of them, even when they wanted what would come of it.
Think: children so tired they fall asleep with their heads on the dinner table but refuse to go to bed. Children who want to go outside and play but can't get themselves to tidy up their rooms first. Children who want to watch TV but can't get themselves to eat their vegetables to earn that privilege.
Sidebar: I hated green beans. Once my mom made me sit at the dinner table, plate of green beans in front of me. I could not leave the table, the skies growing darker by the minute, my brother and sisters outside whooping it up playing Ghost in the Graveyard, until I finished those green beans.
"Offer it up to the Lord," my mom said, leaving the kitchen. So I closed my eyes, and that's what I did. I offered it up to the Lord, then waited. And waited. And WAITED.
When my Mom came back to the kitchen, I was crying. "Why are you crying?" she said. "The Lord didn't take them!" I wailed.
I don't remember what happened after that. One or both of us relented and I have a feeling it was probably me. And now, as a matter of fact, I quite like green beans, so all's well that ends well.
Back to the matter at hand. Sometimes, even grownups say no to themselves, even when it is something they know they want to do.
But being a grownup does have its perks: you can learn to trick yourself into getting something done.
Notice I said trick, and not treat. The "trick" here (sorry, couldn't resist) is to have the treat be in what you get yourself to do. Trick yourself into doing what you want to do, and the reward will be...doing what you wanted to do in the first place.
TRICKY, right?!? And effective, if you want to build a habit.
It was pointed out to me a long time ago, that you will answer any question you put to yourself. So only ask yourself questions you actually want answers to. Like, instead of asking, "why do I always do this wrong?" ask "what parts of this am I doing right?" Both lead you down a rabbit hole, but the latter actually gives you something you can build on.
So in case you are like me, here's a little something you can try when you find yourself saying "No!" to yourself when a part of you wishes you would say "Yes." (I first shared this at Lamb's Retreat for Songwriters a few years ago.)
Close your eyes, pick a letter of the alphabet, and say to yourself:
"How do I..." and then say the action after the letter.
So, say I'm stuck, I want to write this song, but it's not coming easily. I feel like if I give up on it, I may not go back to it and thus lose the passion for it.
I close my eyes, pick a letter -- K as of this writing -- and then I say to myself: "How do I knead the ideas in my mind while I do other things?" And I do what comes to me to do next.
In my experience, this works for everything from professional writing to songwriting. If you try it this week, let me know how it goes.
Jenny's ABCs go like this:
A: Allow every experience you’ve ever had to be on the table
B: Blindfold the part of you that thinks it already knows
C: Change the inspiration channel
D: Decide that you are writing
E: Enjoy the enigma that is you as a writer, writing
F: Follow through on ideas even when inconvenient
G: Gravitate towards what inspires you
H: Harness momentum, your own and others
I: Incinerate your loyalties to what you think is “good”
J: Juxtapose unrelated incidents
K: Knead the ideas in your mind while you’re doing other things
L: Listen for whispers of inspiration
M: Mine daily occurrences for universal lessons
N: Notice seemingly unrelated experiences that relate somehow
0: Own that the idea came to you and you have something to say
P: Pretend it is already written and see how it sounds
Q: Quote someone who has said what you’re trying to say then say it differently
R: Recharge when you’re getting stressed, tired, or overwhelmed
S: Suspend the desire to judge yourself based on how good you think the song is
T: Try to see how few words you can use to get an idea across
U: Use kindness in your tone when you speak of your writing to yourself or others
V: Visit childhood, yours or others
W: Wake and write down the dreams of the night before
X: Xenos is the traveler or stranger
Y: Yield to happiness and becoming even when you don’t feel like it
Z: Zoom in on what the situation would feel like