That’s an Affirmative.

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I happen to be a big fan of motivational posters.

Mind you, I don’t have any of them up on my walls.
That is because I’m also a big fan of hip & cool interior design and motivational posters are sooooo 1992.

But the notion of short inspirational words & phrases is something that I’ve actually studied & utilized for quite some time now.

Words have energy.
And if you focus on certain words, you can change your reality.

This used to be dismissed as namby pamby new age thinking. However, now it is scientifically proven that when you focus on a clear & detailed image of your goal, every aspect of your being will focus on doing what it needs to do to attain said goal.
(cannot believe I just googled “namby pamby” to see if it’s a real phrase)

Crafting your musical goals into concise & descriptive phrases can be hugely effective towards reaching your guitar playing objectives.

If you accept that thoughts are energy, then you want to be more careful with how you word your desires & goals.
Because if you’re not careful, you can inadvertently focus on what it is that you don’t want.

It’s about being aware of your languaging and catching yourself when you use a “going away from” phrase, as opposed to a “going towards” phrase. What that means is your affirmation can have words in it that reflect the opposite of your desires. The affirmation should describe the actual result you wish to achieve.

Saying, “I will play this scale without any mistakes.” is a perfect example of a “going away from” phrase.
The word “mistakes” represents what you don’t want & by using it in the affirmation, you are drawing your attention, at the very least unconsciously, to the very thing you want to avoid when you practice.
(mistakes= bad! Grammys =good!)

Change it to:

I will play this scale cleanly & accurately.”

“Cleanly” & “accurately” are the word energies that you’re going for in this scenario.

Here’s another…
“I need to stop procrastinating & practice more.”

“Procrastinating” would be the culprit here. That’s not the word you want rolling around your brain.
Plus, I’m not sure but there might be extra word energy when there’s more syllables.
(no, I’m not serious… assuming you probably just said to yourself, “Is he serious?)

And by the way, “need” is another word to be careful with. Comes with lots of shame & guilt.
(see last week’s blog reference to Catholic school nuns)

Change it to this:

Everyday I make wise & productive choices with what I do with my time.

Sometimes it’s merely a matter of taking the negative word out & replacing it with the exact opposite to rephrase your affirmation.
Instead of, “My guitar solos are never pointless or boring”, change it to…

“My guitar solos are focused & exciting.”

You get the idea.

And another thing- be careful with using the word, “want”. It implies & declares that, in this present moment, you don’t have the very thing you desire.
Strive to express your goals in present tense.
Use “I have…” or “I am…”, instead of “I want…” or “I will…”
As counterintuitive as it may feel to you, stating your goal in present terms is huge in ramping up the power of the affirmation. The conscious & subconscious mind respond to statements that are rooted in the belief of  as is now.

We are talking somewhat about wordplay here. But it is healthy wordplay.
Kenny Werner, author of ‘Effortless Mastery‘, has come up in previous discussions of this topic and he is fond of substituting the word, “unfamiliar” for the world of “difficult”, or for any similar type word that invokes “Dang it! This is hard!”


Feelings. Nothing more than feelings.

Okay- you don’t want to be the guy (or gal) who stands there in front of his (or her) bathroom mirror saying, “I AM a rock star! I AM a rock star!”, over & over when in the back of your mind you’re thinking, “Yeah right… a rock star who works at Starbucks.”
(hey- no offense, baristas… you are the most important people in my life!)

And if you are about to attempt to play a challenging chord progression, you wouldn’t want to just think, “I play chord progressions confidently & musically”,
which, in & of itself, is a nice affirmation… it’s in present tense & it has good word energy.
But even as you think the thoughts, doubt can have a way of creeping into the experience. The key word here is experience, because that is exactly what the affirmation is designed to do… describe your experience of the goal.

So what you want to do is to conjure up sense of what it feels like to play confidently & musically… or any other adjective you wish to ascribe to your guitar playing. .

This is the most crucial part of making an affirmation truly work for you: you gotta get the feeling tone!

What that means is that right after when you think, or say, your affirmation, you then take a moment, go inside yourself and conjure up exactly what it would feel like to experience that goal.
Would you feel excited?… or confident… or happy?… or artistically satisfied? What does that visualization feel like exactly?… for you.

It’s not as hard as you might think. You know how you experience that exact feeling inside from a earlier part of your life when you hear a song you haven’t heard for a while that is from that part of your life? It’s kind of like that.
Only you’re aiming for positive feelings… feelings of trust & faith in your abilities… affirming feelings.

Think of a time you felt really really confident. How did that feel? Now recreate that feeling while you focus on your affirmation.
Voila! It’s like a supercharger to your visualizations.

Speaking of visualizations, all of this ties into the techniques we’ve discussed before in this blog.


Try this for one week…

• Write out two or three affirmations.

• Put them where you can see them when you are playing or practicing.

• Before you start playing, spend five minutes in a quiet head space & focus on what it would feel like to experience the attainment of the specific goals of each affirmation.

• As you play, be aware of your thoughts & notice how often you are thinking in “forward” terms… or “away from” terms. When you catch yourself focusing on how not to do something, change the words into positive language.

Here are some I use…

My guitar technique is becoming more & more developed every day.

I learn songs quickly & easily.

Both of my hands are completely synchronized & coordinated.

As my breathing flows, my body exerts just the right amount of effort & energy to complete the task at hand efficiently & accurately.

I realize that this is an extra duty to add to your practice time & that can be a challenge, especially when you just want to sit down and get right into the playing. But I can assure you it is worth the time you put into it.


This technique of using affirmations to help ourselves grow & evolve is incredibly effective.
It is soooooooo simple. That’s what I love about it. But sometimes, it seems the simple things are what elude us.
Why is that? Someone please tell me. I don’t know. If I did, my blog would be the best blog ever. And I would probably be invited to the Whitehouse, or something.

I will leave you with a few of my favorite internet meme motivational posters…. because even though I am a firm believer in the power & energy of words, that doesn’t  mean I don’t love making fun of namby pamby new ager over-achievers every now & then.

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(Okay- two cat posters, I know… and that last one wasn’t so much motivational as it was just really cute… hopefully it calmed down any baristas I inadvertently insulted earlier.)


Be honest, how many of you googled “namely pamby” to see if it is a real phrase?
It is.
To be honest with you, I’ve used it my whole life to describe something silly & inane and I guess I thought I made it up ages ago… because it just sounds like something that’s silly & inane.

The things you learn when you teach.

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