It’s possible to spend a lot of time, imagining the worst: what if I don’t get that job, or he doesn’t love me, or I’m not that talented, after all? I’m curious about what happens when we spend time, imagining the best, and why that might be a challenge for some people. This is a practice I call working with presuppositions. It can be powerful and revealing. I can take any concept, or belief, and start thinking about it as if it were true. I love to do this with clients. Today, I was working with: an artist cannot fail, it is already a success to be one.
Firstly, it’s possible to imagine anything. Let’s take a pink, furry carrot the size of a skyscraper with a bright green, mullet haircut. Therefore, if I’m finding it hard to imagine the presupposition, I already know there’s a block around this issue. And here’s the thing about a block: it’s only ever temporary.
Imagine brushing your hair. What do you do when you hit a knot? Give up? Decide there’s nothing you can do from here on? No, you adjust your technique. Go slow. Come at the knot from a different angle.
Working with a knot, or block, around what you believe about yourself is a lovely practice. It builds a sense of achievement and deepens self-knowledge and therefore resilience, making you much more able to talk yourself up from a low point.
Let’s say I’m feeling a block with the presupposition that an artist cannot fail because it is already a success to be one. Rather than working it, I think: man, this presupposition thing is stupid. The block is there, but I just decide to ignore it. If, every time a block appeared in the road, I chose to take an alternative route, then I’d be taking so many detours that even something as simple as writing an email would become a much longer process than the four minute job it is. Here’s where we can spot if we're living with lots of blocks! How quickly does it take for you to get around to something, or change your mood?
Trying out presuppositions keeps the roads clear, and there are always beneficial discoveries to be made along the way.
So, what would it be like to imagine that you were an artist who couldn’t fail because you’re already being a success?
Each time you notice resistance, make a note. It helps to actually write this down when you are just starting out with this practice. ‘Ah, I don’t think I need to bother,’ might be your first roadblock. Here is an indication of wanting to keep thinking the same old thoughts. Adding just one new thought to your repertoire, can really make a difference to your day.
What would it mean to take a breath, right now, and try it?
But I’m not really an artist…Here’s another roadblock – a sense of inadequacy, perhaps.
Everyone’s an artist: being a mother, that’s being an artist. A husband? Very artistic. Writer, entrepreneur, accountant, chef, sister, son, human. All artistic.
Just imagine that it’s a success, right now, to be who you are. Go easy, combing out the knot, trying different angles, seeing how it feels.
Giving yourself a moment to think in this way, is taking a break from the way you think most of the time. The more breaks you take, and the more time you spend imagining the best what ifs, the more you'll realise your life is changing.