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Overcoming Negative Emotional Blocks to Creativity and Influence

Portrait by Michael Newcomb, Background and Texture from The Photo Coach Grunge Collection.

It’s tough out there. To survive in a crowded marketplace, we must be at the top of our game, every day. It’s critical for us to be inspired and optimistic, fueled  for high creativity, passionate about what we do, and influential with our coworkers and clients. Our thoughts and emotions can and do impact our ability to be creative, and to have great influence, whether we like it or not. In a highly creative profession with lots of competitors, our tools are our creativity, the quality of our work, and influence. Being just “average” in any area doesn’t cut it. But performing at the top everyday can be very challenging. Life happens! How do we do that when we are hit with the stuff of living from day to day?

“Mindfulness,” is the practice of being fully present in the moment, conscious only of what is happening now. When practicing mindfulness, We are not distracted by the future or the past. We will concentrate on one phenomenon at a time, deal with it, then move on to another. When we have a specific goal in mind, in this case not letting our emotional state negatively influence our work or our influence with others, we will start with being mindful of what we are experiencing emotionally in this moment. We will concentrate on that state for a  period of time, and go through a process which will work to disconnect the emotion from the event or person it is affecting, or from whom we think is causing it.

We concentrate on the emotion, what we are feeling, whether it be fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, or anything else negative. Imagining that feeling as an object, we picture it before us, separating it from ourselves, and from any event or person. It is simply an independent object. We look at this emotion-object with our logical, rational mind, seeing it for what it is, simply a disconnected emotional state, unrelated to anything. It’s simply there. We look at it somewhat disinterested. We are emotionally detached from this “object”. We simply give it our attention, without opinion, good or bad. We aren’t telling it to go away. We don’t resist it. If anything we become more comfortable with it’s presence. It’s as if it’s presence doesn’t matter. But, the bottom line is, we don’t associate it with work or another person or ourselves even. After a period of time, we can move on to another phenomenon to be mindful of, or simply go on about our day.

Maybe we want to be mindful of the quality of our thoughts and attitudes. We can simply repeat the process, looking at a thought, or an attitude, processing it, With the emotional state set aside, we can logically decide how we want to think and what our attitude will be. When we think about the event or person that the former emotional state was connected to, prior to our mindfulness practice, we can often be much more rational, and in control of the situation, and feel perfectly calm, even while the other person is quite hostile and escalating. Mindfulness trains us to retain the ability to think about and choose our responses rather than automatically responding with the same emotional intensity that is being directed at us. We can thoughtfully choose our words and actions without the negative anticipation that had existed prior to this. This is usually pretty exciting to people, to realize this level of self control over their emotional states.

Check your attitude daily. Make sure it is a positive one, of expectation for great things to come each day. Expect great things to  happen and they will. Seek fresh new ideas, and new ways of “seeing” and it will happen. This is essential to success as a creative professional, and for people in all walks of life.  Even if you are already doing well in business, and your work is inspired, practice mindfulness and guard your attitude. Be aware of your emotional states, set them aside, and respond to difficult situations with intelligent thought. Doing so will create the path to greater influence with everyone in your life.

Have a great day!


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Opening up to Creativity


My wife Pam and I just celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary. It was last Friday the 13th, and nothing went wrong.  We took a hike around the Oregon caves and just had a wonderful day.

I brought my Canon DSLR along in case I felt like taking some pictures. If you read my recent post about the Redwoods, you will know where I’m coming from here. I have been taking to this idea of being somewhere to experience what is happening, to experience the moment fully, not distracted by anything. Rather, I am fully present, seeing all of the beauty and experiencing all that my senses take in. I am usually reflecting with gratitude on all that is around me, the things that I’m usually too busy to notice, the many things I take for granted. Perhaps I’m saying a prayer, giving thanks for the wonderful gift of nature.

As in my trip to the redwoods, I wasn’t there to look for photos to take. I was simply there to enjoy being fully in the moment, in an inspiring place, with my wife.
It seems to me that things tend to come to us when we aren’t trying so hard to make them happen.  When we need greatly “need” something, we can’t seem to find it. Kinda like love, or money perhaps.  But when we are content and grateful for what we have, and all that is around us, the blessings seem to simply flow to us.
That is how I’ve been experiencing photography lately. When my head and heart are in a good place I will “see” differently. I think it’s no coincidence. I see true beauty in nature, in the most unlikely places.  When I do, I can grab my camera and shoot what I perceive, almost unconsciously. For sure, I would not see these scenes the same if I was actively scanning the mountainside, feeling  like  it won’t be worth being out here if I don’t take some exceptional photographs.

I’m realizing how this new found perspective for approaching photography, and being fully in the moment, has been a lesson about the bigger picture, about not forcing things that I think should happen, but realizing there is a path that’s right for each of us. Perhaps when we are trying hard to accomplish something and it just isn’t happening,  maybe we are trying to force something that isn’t supposed to happen, and perhaps we are missing the new door that is opening, taking us in a different direction. I look forward to  applying that to life this next week and seeking what happens in a couple of specific situations.