Monday, June 28, 2010

Just Dance. Don't Think.

Darcy Kistler, retiring from the New York City ballet tells of Balanchine’s early message to her. Just dance. Don’t think. Kistler adds, “He knew people better than anybody. He probably thought that I was an overthinker. Maybe he didn’t want me to get in my own way.”  (NYTimes, Arts, 6/27/2010)

The quote follows along with last week’s post; another great example of strategic allocation of attention.

Sometimes it’s best to not pay attention to what we are thinking. Why? Because our self-talk, even if it’s instructional or positive rather than negative, can interfere with the flow of our instincts, movement and action. Being ”in the zone” is a form of detachment; a state of mind where we are focused in the moment, mostly in our right brain, paying no attention to what’s going on in our left brain. We allocate attention to now, rather than to our thoughts about past, present, future, evaluation, information, or instruction.

 For example, rather than thinking as I start to write this post, “Does this article make sense? I wonder if anyone else is interested in strategic allocation of attention. Maybe this is boring,” I just write without thought at the moment, in the same way tennis player Rafael Nadal just serves without thinking. He thought before the game started and he will think later after the game is over, but during the game Nadal, like many other successful athletes, are only "now" in their head. Later I will go back, and move into instructional mode and action. “ Stick to one concept Judy.” “The post needs more white space.” “Add some links.”

Many approaches to getting rid of negative self-talk involve paying a lot of attention to it, rather than distracting yourself from the voice or detaching. The article, 3 Ways to Stop Negative Thinking by Dean Anderson, http://tinyurl.com/c5u3w6 suggests:
1.    Look for Hidden Thoughts/Assumptions in Your Negative Self-talk
The first step is to develop the habit of asking yourself: "What would have to be true in order for the negative conclusion I reached to be justified?"

2.   Learn to Argue with Yourself
The more of these questions that you ask yourself, the more easily you’ll be able to spot—and correct—your negative automatic thoughts that are lurking underneath your tendency to assume the worst whenever things don’t go the way you planned.

3.  Do What Doesn't Come Naturally
If you think you’re "doomed to be fat forever," tell yourself that success is unavoidable if you want it; if you’re feeling like a "lazy slug," tell yourself that your “true self” really does want to exercise. You get the idea.

All three approaches that Anderson suggests require allocating much attention to your thoughts, rather than strategically allocating attention to distraction, problem-solving, or detachment, three ways which I think are better ways to get rid of negative self-talk. But recognizing that whatever works for you to diminish or eliminate negative self-talk, becomes a good technique for you by definition. Trying out different approaches to dumping your NST is a forward-moving action — find what works works best for you and please pass it on with your comment.
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