How can I stop dwelling?! We all have something that we have been holding on to for far too long. It can be the mistake you made the other day, your own insecurity or maybe envy. To dwell on things makes no good, not for you as a person or a creative. So, what are you dwelling on that you need to let go?
So, this thing about holding on for too long on bad thoughts is never a good idea. It takes to much energy from us as a creative, and with no energy it means your craft wont be your best. We all do dwell on things, its completely normal and nothing weird about it. The hard part is to learn how to deal with these thoughts to avoid them so they don’t get the energy and attention they want.
Here are some of the things I dwell on and how I deal with them:
Insecurity and doubt: Just as you and everyone else I also doubt myself. Due to I am a creative person and have my feelings on my outside (to quote my dad), so when these thoughts creep up on me they become very real and strong. I doubt that I will manage do pull of a certain job and that I have made the right choices in life. Is this this whole business with photography and digital communication wasted?
Solution: To wash away all doubt and insecurity I look back. I reflect over what I have accomplished over soon 17 years in the business. To look back on your work and achievements shows that yes, I can do this, I do a great job and I will succeed with this one as well. To take a moment and identify the negative thoughts for what they actually are, just thoughts, makes it easier to deal with them.
Envy: Isn’t probably the right word, the truth is closer to a mixture of FOMO (fear of missing out) and envy. We all “suffer” from this today with all the content posted on Instagram and Facebook. But it’s so important to remember that what you see is a highlight reel and NOT real life.
As a creative you know that most of the days you spend your time in front of your e-mail, the Adobe suite or in a meeting. The content production part like being on a photoshoot, travel abroad for work or whatever it may be is just a small percentage of your time. When I see all these images in my Instagram feed I start to feel why am I not there or why am I sitting here instead of being out producing great content?
Solution: Think about how a creative process or the road to win a pitch from a company look like. NO ONE live 24/7 on a beach in Bali, explore South America for Condé Nast Traveler or shoot fashion editorials for ELLE on a daily basis. Behind all these occasions are so-much-fucking-work. Infinite number of meeting, e-mails, pitching, mood boards, phone calls and headache.
Because what people upload to Instagram and Facebook is a part of a carefully curated personal PR campaign where they cherry-pick the absolute best parts for display. All the rotten or unripe ones you never get to see.
The negative thoughts do have an explanation and it’s a biological one
Why is it so easy for negative thoughts to find their way in to our head? The explanation is biological – our brain is programmed to protect us. For many (many!) years ago we used to live in the forest/jungle/savannah where we needed to be fully aware of the negative consequences around us to survive. Because if you ran into a lion you don’t think “aw, what a fluffy kitty” you probably fear for your life and run like hell. Even that we now days live in a modern society in cities, where for many of us the biggest danger is crossing the road for our café late, our brain is still programmed for defense.
So, how can you handle these thoughts when they creep up on you (because they do)?
The first thing you need to do is to acknowledge that you are having these thoughts. To stop for a moment and reflect on what is going on in your head and dare to stand up to your thoughts and say no! The worst-case scenario that is playing in your head will probably never happen and your thoughts ARE exaggerated.
If you happen to make a mistake, write down what happened, what you might could have done different and what you learned from it. Think about it for max 15 minutes and then move one with your life. If you start thinking why things only happens to you (and no one else in the whole wide world) just stop for a moment. See the problem as a small bump in the road you need to pass and how to solve it in the best possible way. Because when you break down a problem into smaller pieces you usually get the insight that it isn’t such a big problem or hard to solve.
If nothing else works
Sometimes you just can’t let these thoughts go, how hard you try. A great way to break away from them is to do something else. Take a walk (fresh air makes wonders for your mind), hit the gym and work up a sweat or cook a delicious meal. Mindfulness are great exercises for your mind but takes some time to learn. In short, it’s about that you can’t change the past and worrying about tomorrow is a waste of time, you live in the present.