This is an artist’s attempt on an artist take, on some of the concepts from the lecture series: “Psychology of Performance” by Dr Eddie O’Connor mainly aimed at Sports Psychology and Performance.
I was inspired to do this after seeing how related to art it can be, after Marshall Vandruff mentioned it so many times in the Draftsmen Podcasts.
I wanted to do a version for artists who want to get the practical gist of it and/or need an artist’s perspective on it, if they feel like it’s not applicable to practicing art. Some chapters like being a good sports parent don’t really apply for example.
There is some overlap between chapter points that I will try to condense for succinct points for quick reading, summarized as best as I can and art related examples of certain points to show how it can be applied to practicing art.
The original material are strongly recommended if you require more information/scientific evidence of the concepts.
The Problem With Positive Thinking
When dealing with your art, you should get rid of the concept of positive VS negative, and settle on the work-ability of the thoughts you have towards a rich fulfilling art journey and life. Like Yin and Yang there is good in the bad and bad in the good, leading to a full life.
Consider the good in the bad for example when you fail at drawing something, you now know when something doesn’t work. Consider the bad in the good, like assuming you think you already know how to draw something only to realize that you have not fully grasp the knowledge of it yet.
When you think, ask each thought whether it leads you towards a richer fulfilling art journey/life, think about the function and end result of each thought, does this thought truly help or hurt you, only attach and fuse to the ones that help you towards your goals.
You can and should defuse unhelpful fused thoughts that are experienced as something very important (when they are not) which makes you give all your attention and knee-jerk automatic reaction. If they are not helpful then you don’t have to give it your attention or reaction or energy or time.
You can defuse thoughts by changing your perspective on it, placing “I’m having the thought that…” in front of the negative self-judgement.
“I’m bad at drawing” becomes “I’m having the thought that I’m bad at drawing.” Distance yourself from the thought and defuse it.
You should label it as an experience, not a thought. Thoughts do not determine our actions. We do not act on all of our thoughts.
Don’t force positive thoughts to block out all the problems and negative thoughts and emotions you are feeling.
We actually do not have that much control over our thoughts in a lot of instances, like being told not to think about something we automatically think about it as we think “don’t think about ___” we also do not actively act out on these thoughts all the time the moment we have them.
We (most of us) will have a filter that prevents us from taking action on every single thought that comes into our brains. It allows us to function daily.
The moment you see how much or rather how little control you have over your thoughts you will come to find that it is a lot easier to label things as thoughts and let them go and not let them affect you like actual experiences.
I have written more about other topics here.