Overcome Self-Defeating Thoughts

Seasoned performers spend just as much time learning how to manage their moods as they do refining their musical craft.

—from The Ultimate Guide to Singing: All aspects of a singer’s life are covered in this ultimate companion to your singing with Top Actions for Moving Ahead with Your Singing, Sound and Career. Contributed to by Over 100 professional contributors with 94 Grammys and Grammy nominations, 193 Books, 1,772 Albums and 280 million YouTube hits!

The Buddha said, “Get a grip on your mind!” 

Wrong thinking causes much of the pain and suffering we experience. The Roman Epictetus put it this way: “Do not surrender your mind.” Wise men and wise women have informed us since the dawn of our species that we are what we think.

As a thoughtful person, you have the ability to challenge your thoughts that bring you pain and hold you back in your singing performance. What you also need are the understanding and the will. 

Taking three steps will help you with all of this. 

1. Become Aware of Self-Defeating Thoughts

The first step is to clearly hear your defeatist thoughts and recognize them for what they are — products of doubt, fear, reluctance, or inner conflict.

2. Counter Self-Defeating Thoughts

The next step is saying, “I don’t want this thought!” In cognitive therapy, this is called thought confrontation. Without hesitation and without embarrassment, you say “No!”

3. Replace Self-Defeating Thoughts

The final step is to replace the unbidden, unfortunate thought with a right thought. In cognitive therapy, this is called thought substitution. With the right thought in place, the pain ends.

At a recent conference a performer asked me, “Can I really do that? Can I get rid of thoughts I’ve been thinking my whole life and replace them with new ones?” I replied, “If you want to.” That is the complete answer. 

Yes, change is deep work, because you must go down and wrestle with long-standing beliefs and serious doubts. Still, that is what you want to do. Isn’t that so? Just begin and who knows: maybe the work will be easier than you imagine. For change can also happen effortlessly, in an instant. Maybe you are primed right now for that miracle. Isn’t that possible?

Neither you nor I can answer any of the ultimate questions. But don’t you feel a little confident that you can substitute a right thought for a wrong thought? If you are not sure one-way or the other, take “yes” for an answer. If you’re convinced that the answer is “no,” opt for “yes” anyway. Unless you say “yes” to the possibility that you can change your mind you will have said “no” to life with a vengeance.

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