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The Inner Singer Podcast
Episode 10 – Transcripts
5 Steps to Shifting a Non-Supportive Belief
So for this particular show, I thought that I would celebrate in giving you a framework that could help you shift some of the thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, patterns and habits that may be holding you back and limiting you in your singing progress and reaching your potential and some of the things I’m sure I’ve spoken about before in previous podcasts. But I thought I’d bring it all together under one roof this time and give you really a framework that you could use. In my mind, this might be pretty quick, but again, I never know. I always feel like they’re going to be much quicker than they end up being.
Let’s start with a potential belief that somebody might have or a thought that somebody might have. And I’m going to use my old, generic one, one that I used to carry around with me quite a bit. That is something like I would finish a song or halfway through a song, it wouldn’t be going well, I’d stop and my idea would be, or my thought would be, “I can’t believe I can never sing this. I still can’t sing this song.” “This is so bad. Why is this so bad?” Just things like that, constantly be down on myself, constantly be wondering, “Why isn’t this better? Why am I no good?” All the self-talk.
So the first thing I want to offer you, if you have any tendencies like that or with any other thoughts that don’t serve you—they might not be as dramatic as, “Oh, my gosh! I’m terrible. I suck. Why do I never get that note? Why can’t I ever sing that song? Who would want to listen to me sing?”, anything. If there are any beliefs, thoughts, habits, patterns, conditioning that are not serving you, what I want you to do with step one of this frame work is I want you to begin to question them. And by that, I mean this.
So I have thought – and I’m going to take it out of singing for just a second because this would really, I think, make sense. So I’m driving around the other day. Actually, it was probably a year ago. It could be the other day, 366 days ago. And I wasn’t even in any particular hurry and yet, I got stopped at a red light. Pretty normal, right? Light’s green, turns yellow, turns red. It happens to all of us.
But I got really frustrated. I just noticed myself getting frustrated. And instead of the normal reaction of just being in the frustration, I used the idea of this framework that I hadn’t really put together yet. But the idea came to me and I said to myself, “What would I have to believe in my life at the core to be upset about this light? I’m not in a hurry. But even if I was, it’s a red light.” I can really physically feel in my body that I am having a reaction to this red light. What would I have to believe deep down for that to bubble up and become anger at a red light, which has nothing to do with me? It’s not personal at all.
I thought for a second and I thought, “You know, way down at the core of that is really a belief that I have identified some time ago, and it’s something to the effect of this. Nothing is going to work out well. Nothing ever really works out.” And it’s almost like a joke out of Murphy’s Law, if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. And people actually put that on the refrigerator. I know I’ve said that in previous podcasts, but I want to really drive a point home here.
And I’ve been working on that for some time. I don’t know where I picked it up – usually, in childhood where I could have come in with it. Who knows? But often times, in childhood from parents or whatever. My parents were great, loving people. Stuff happens, right?
Anyway, I thought, “Wow! So I’m still carrying that belief way down at the core. There’s still a little part of me. It doesn’t mean a big part of me.” – and we’ll going to that in a minute – but there’s a little part of me that really holds on to, “Why bother? Nothing’s going to work out. Why should I make that? Nothing’s getting worked out. Why should I do that? It won’t work out.”
“Whoa! I see that. Isn’t that interesting to still have a part of me that believes that? Whoa!”
So let’s get back to singing now and let’s get to the first step in the framework that I’m going to ask you to practice, question everything. In light of this now as your singing or vocalizing or doing anything that has to do with singing, performing or whatever, the minute you have a negative thought or a thought that’s not supportive or self-deprecating thought, “Oh, that sucked. That was awful,” or whatever, anything that you can identify like that, begin to question it.
“Where is that coming from? What would I have to believe in my life to continually say that to myself? Am I doing that in any other area of my life?”
As I’ve said before, they say, whoever they are, but they do say that the way you do anything is the way you do everything. So is there something else in my life that I’m doing this too?
And I can tell you with me and the traffic light, I found a bunch of things. It wasn’t just the traffic light. If I picked a lane, if I went to the grocery store, Whole Foods or something and I looked at a couple of lanes and they looked about the same amount of people in them and I chose one and the one that I didn’t choose started moving faster, I could really feel myself begin to say to myself, “Oh, my gosh! Another stupid decision. I can’t believe you went to this line. How could you, out of two choices, make the wrong one?”
I’m just being really transparent here. If anything, what I never want to put out here in this material is that I think by any means I have it completely together because I don’t. I’m working on the same things you’re all working on. I’ve been working on these things a long, long time. So I may have some information that I can apply to singing and performing that can be really beneficial to you. It’s all stuff I do myself. These are all thoughts that I have.
But now at least I know, “Wow! that’s just a little part of me.” And I used to really beat myself up over it. “How could you think that still after all the work you’ve done?” But now I’ve realized, “No, this is just a little part of me. That’s just a pattern that runs. It’s part of this operating system, as part of this programming.” And what a neat thing to be aware of because when we’re aware of it, we don’t necessarily have to do it anymore.
So I’ll feel that come up in a line or if I make a lane change and I’m driving and the lane I choose to be, all of a sudden, begins to slow down with traffic and all the other lanes are moving great and I’m, “What the heck am I doing in this lane? That was a really stupid lane change” like I did it on purpose.
I hope that some of you guys listening to this because I’m laughing and saying at the same time, I hope that some of you guys can really identify with some of the stuff. I’m really hoping that I’m not the only one that has these thoughts.
But anyway, I really want you to question these thoughts and try and figure out, “Where is this coming from? Do I do something else in my life the same? Do I have a similar reaction in any other part of my life? Am I doing this in this area of my life and the same thing in another area of my life? What can I learn?”
To this, you are now bringing the second step, which is awareness. And those steps are a little bit interchangeable. It’s questionable as to which one is first, whether you have the thought and then you question it and then you become aware or you have the thought and you’re aware, “Oh, my gosh! I had this thought. Where did that come from?”
As I’m saying this now, that really probably is the order. It’s probably awareness, questioning it, and then being mindful, which is number three. When we’re mindful of it, we have a very keen awareness of it, but we have a space between us and the thought, between us and the behavior. We look at it almost scientifically with acceptance and compassion. So, we don’t look at it any way judgmentally, we look at it with acceptance for that part of our self that is having that belief or just did that behavior, and compassion, for the part of us that thought that or did that.
So with me at the light, when I find myself getting irritated, if I’m on the way to the studio and the light turns red and I feel myself going into that, “Oh, my gosh. I can’t believe I always get caught at this light. I can’t even make a light. Oh, my gosh!” I say, “Wow! Okay, no. That’s just that little part of me, screaming out how unfair everything is and how it just doesn’t stand a chance.”
And I can sometimes now say, “Wow! Okay, I get it.” That used to totally run me, but I can see how with now conscious awareness, I can sometimes just smile at that and relax into it. Sometimes, it gets me a little bit, of course. But a lot of times, I can smile into it with an awareness and acceptance and compassion for that part of myself that feels that way and smile and say, “Wow! But that’s not how the bigger part of me feels. I know that’s just a little screaming part of me right now, and it can be here. It’s fine. It doesn’t matter. It can come along for the ride here. But it doesn’t have to drive my car, drive the plane, fly whatever. They don’t have to run things.”
So we have awareness, I would say, probably the first one, question everything, all the thoughts, all the behaviors, “Where did they come? Where did that come from? Am I doing anything else in my life that’s like that in another area?” and then the mindfulness, bringing acceptance and compassion to the part of you that feels that way, does that thing, believes that way, whatever.
And then let’s say it’s a belief and let’s say that it’s that crazy belief that I always use (that I used at the beginning) where you’re singing something and at the end, “Oh, my gosh! How could it be so bad? Why am I so awful? How come I can never get better? Why don’t I ever get that note?” or any of these things that you think.
Now, you’ve already been aware, you’ve questioned where did it come from, you’ve practiced your mindfulness with your acceptance and compassion, but now, let’s play a little game with it. Let’s look at that belief, let’s look at that thought, and let’s play with it for a second. Let’s track with it for a second. Let’s run with it.
So now you’re being aware of it and say, “Okay, I’m going to watch this belief. Oh, my gosh! I can’t believe I missed that note. I suck. I’m so awful.” Let’s track with that. What else do you have to say that little part of me? What else? What would you say next?
“I don’t even know why I bother with singing. It’s ridiculous! It’s just not working at all. I’ve been trying like crazy.”
Okay, follow that. Follow that.
“I’ve had this teacher and that teacher. I bought this course and that course. I just must not have what it takes.”
Okay, let’s keep going. Let’s keep going.
“I knew that I couldn’t do this.”
People have always said, “You’re silly to want to sing.”
And all the while, very, very important, you’re just listening to the voice. You’re still practicing your mindfulness. There’s still a space. There’s still a separation. You’re not caught up in this. You’re listening to the voice. You’re giving that part of you a voice, saying, “Talk to me. Tell me what you think. What’s going on?”
You’re not buying into it. You’re just listening. You ask yourself the question, “How does it feel to be following this train of thought? Is this supporting me? Is this benefiting me in any way? Does this make me feel good or does it make me feel bad? How does this feel in my body? Where do I feel this?”
You feel into it. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll arrive at, “Wow! That feels yucky. That doesn’t feel good at all. It just feels like I’m beating myself up. It feels awful.”
This is really important. And still, as you’re feeling into that and you recognize what it feels like, you still are looking at this scientifically with curiosity. You’re not beating yourself up, you’re not judgmental. You’re really looking at it like a scientist, very, very curious.
“Does this make me feel good? Is this supportive behavior? Is this going to get me where I want to go?”
And if you’re anything like me, you’ll come to that, in the end of that and you’ll say, “Whoa! No, this feels lousy. This is not going to get me where I want to go. It’s not supportive. It’s not loving at all.”
And then, we come to number five, which is the biggie – well, they’re all biggies, but here we go. Now, we are at choice. Number five is the choice point. We now are at a place where we have separation, we have space and we can say, “Wow! I feel what this behavior or I feel what this thinking does. I can feel what it feels like and it’s not supportive. Do I have a choice? Do I have to continue following this thought pattern or this behavior? Do I have a choice in the matter? What’s the payoff to me for continuing in this vein? What is the payoff to me for continuing this behavior or this thought pattern? Is it going to help me? Is it going to benefit me? Do I have a choice?”
And you’re going to come to the point where you do have a choice.
So let’s go back to the original, you just finished singing, “Oh, I can’t believe it’s so bad. Why am I always so bad? I knew I couldn’t do this. Who am I to think I can sing?”
So the next time you’re singing after having gone to this process a few times perhaps and you feel that thought, it gets interrupted because you can feel it, “Oh, I know what this is all about and I know where this comes from. Do I want to follow this train of thought? Is this going to serve me? Do I have another choice? Is there some place else I can go right now that would benefit me more?”
And if you have some things prepared already and you’ve lowered in what science and sometimes positive psychology call the ‘activation energy’, if you lower the activation energy, which is the minimum amount of energy it takes to, let’s say, do something, if you lower the activation energy, it’s very easy for you to make another choice and shift your pattern in that moment. It will be very helpful.
And what I mean by that practically is, for instance, let’s just say that you react that way after a song, “I can’t believe it’s so bad. Oh, I should never sing, blah-blah-blah,” right as you begin to feel into that and you interrupt yourself, “I’m going there again. Is this supportive behavior? Do I want to go there? Do I have a choice?”, if you have some things prepared…
And what I offer people is this, for anybody that is singing or vocalizing and has a tendency to immediately go to negative thoughts about what they just did, go to negative scanning about their singing or their vocalizing, “That note was awful. This was bad. My vibrato wasn’t there. I missed that high note,” anything like that, if they’re used to negative scanning, I encourage immediately to give yourself an exercise that I’ve said before (but not within the context of this framework) that would be something to the effect of picking three things that you really, really liked or loved about what you just did.
Whether it’s your performance, whether it’s your voice, it could be that you remember the words, it could be that you were on pitch, it doesn’t have to be huge and wonderful, it just has to be positive, something that gets you to focus on something other than the negative spiral down, so you can begin to shift that.
If you need to write it on a three-by-five card and carry it in your purse or your wallet, do that. If you feel like you can’t remember it at first because if that other pattern is so ingrained in you, you might have to practice this framework a little bit until you feel that you’ve come to a place where you do have a choice and when you feel that you do have a choice, you want to give yourself a choice fast.
So you want to lower the activation energy, whatever energy it takes, to go to that new choice. So if you have it written down, then you can read it. If you know where it is, you can grab it and look at it. If you haven’t memorized, you can say it.
I often times change the position of my body. Let’s say for example, right now, I’m looking to the right. I’m speaking directly into the microphone. My eyes are to the right. If my eyes were to the right when I said, “I can’t believe how bad that was. I’m doing it again. I should never sing,” when I recognize that behavior, I might physically turn to the left. Now, I’m looking to the left, and say, “You know, my pitch was really good. I remembered all the words and that one phrase was really, really good.”
So I’ve lowered the activation energy because I have three things either written down or memorized. And of course, if you want to be in the moment, you want to memorize them – I mean, you don’t want to write them down because they’re going to be new every time. But the thing that you want to write down is pick three things fast. So pick three things fast that you loved or liked about your voice, or that performance. Whether you’re vocalizing, whether you’re singing, it doesn’t matter. You can change the direction you’re looking in. You can change your posture. And then focus on those three things.
So for me, this is a wonderful framework to begin to identify non-supportive beliefs, patterns, habits, programing and conditioning and have a way to deal with it, to have a way to practice shifting the energy, and shifting the pattern.
So again, I think we came up with number one as being awareness. Number two is being question, “Where did that thought come from? Is there a place in my life besides singing that I’m doing this? What would I have to believe at the core, at the level, to actually believe this about my singing? Is there a deeper belief going on here?”
And then the mindfulness where it creates the space between you and the belief or you and the behavior, and then the acceptance and the compassion that you bring to that part of you doing that or believing that. And then tracking that belief and seeing where does that take you, tracking it, and staying mindful and separate from it, but very scientific and curious, “Is this supportive? Is this going to help me get where I want to go?”
And then finally, choice point. “Do I have a choice? Do I have a choice to not continue this pattern? What’s the payoff to this patter if I continue? And do I have a choice? Is there something else I can choose?” And that’s it.
So, on this 10th episode of the Inner Singer Podcast, my thanks to everybody for listening. I hope you’re getting a lot out of these. I’m having a great time doing them. Use this frame and let me know how it works. I’m thrilled to be doing this and I’m thrilled that you’re listening. I will talk to you all very soon. Bye now.
Thank you for listening to the Inner Singer Podcast. Please share this with all of your singing friends. Head on over to iTunes and subscribe. If you find this of value, give us a nice rating. Thanks so much.