He who would be useful, strong, and happy must cease to be a passive receptacle for the negative, beggarly, and impure streams of thought; and as a wise householder commands his servants and invites his guests, so must he learn to command his desires and to say, with authority, what thoughts he shall admit into the mansion of his soul. – James Allen
I love this quote. It is from James Allen, a British philosophical writer known for his inspirational books and poetry and as a pioneer of the self-help movement. His best known work, As a Man Thinketh, has been mass-produced since its publication in 1903.
It is all about self talk, the conversation we all have with ourselves on a daily basis. When someone is talking to you you are speaking to yourself three times as fast. At other times this can increase to six times faster. It has been estimated that over 40,000 thoughts go through our mind every day.
Every thought we have about each and every experience we go through is recorded in our brain. Once that thought has been recorded it does not need to be repeated in reality. We all have this never ending internal monologue or running commentary about ourselves and the world around us. It determines who we are and how we act. It is that voice inside you telling you what you can do or can’t do. It is what has created within you, your perception of yourself and the world around you.
The key to our success is how we manage our self talk. If we don’t control our self talk it will control us.
Right thinking begins with the words we say to ourselves.- James Allen
Call Yourself A Writer!
Have you ever had one of those moments when the answer ‘No’ came from your lips when what you really wanted to say was ‘Yes’?
Let me explain myself.
It was a normal Friday morning in my local coffee shop. I’d been there for about an hour, was on my second latte and writing in my notebook, oblivious to the world around me. It was then that I noticed the lady on the table next to mine was smiling at me, I politely smiled back and that’s when it happened.
It was such a traumatic and embarrassing moment that I’m almost tempted to abandon this post, but I need to go on, I feel an urge to purge my soul.
What, you must be wondering, had this lady done that was so disconcerting? It was not what she did but rather what she said, she asked me a question, which, with hindsight, was both simple and obvious. If only hindsight had been my companion that morning.
She simply asked, “I couldn’t help but notice your notepad … are you a writer?” She caught me unawares and without thinking I said, “No, not really.” Despite her disappointment she carried on and actually gave me a chance to redeem myself by saying, “Oh, so what are you writing?” Did I grab the life belt that she had thrown me, did I heck! “Nothing much. Just a few scribbles.” I replied, almost apologetically. “Lovely.” she said, obviously wishing she had never asked. I, ashamedly, went back to my ‘scribbling’.
Why did I find it so difficult to admit to being a writer? I suppose the problem is that I don’t yet have the confidence to call myself a writer. I’ve not written any books, or poems, not had any short stories published or been successful in any writing competitions. Aren’t these the sorts of things that ‘real writers’ do?
As A Man Thinketh
A man is literally what he thinks… – James Allen
What I forgot on that Friday morning, in my favourite coffee shop, was that I was writing. That’s why the lady spoke to me. So, what I need to keep telling myself, to make part of my daily self talk is that I write, so therefore I am a writer.
Two quotes to leave you with, for you to internalise and make part of you inner monologue.The first is from E.L.Doctorow.
Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.
The second is from Robin McKinley.
For anyone who is: just keep writing. Keep reading. If you are meant to be a writer, a storyteller, it’ll work itself out. You just keep feeding it your energy and giving it that crucial chance to work itself out. By reading and writing.
Next time a lady in a coffee shop smiles at me I will be ready.
Mike Jackson 2016