Don’t Poison Yourself is about not feeding your ego with negative or positive reinforcement, because it will feast on whatever you focus your mind on.
The original lojong slogan is: Abandon poisonous food, which means looking at how you nourish yourself, not just in terms of the food you eat, but on every level: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. So don’t poison yourself with toxic food, emotions, thoughts, or spiritual practices.
This is about how you take care of yourself and whether you treat yourself with respect and avoid doing things that make your life worse. Thinking negatively about yourself is obviously bad for you. But being too quick to congratulate yourself and thinking you can do no wrong, is just as poisonous because it can lead you into believing you’re better than other people.
This practice is about being careful what you feed to your ego. It will feast on anything and it’s very good at hijacking whatever you’re doing and taking the credit for itself. This applies to spiritual practices like meditation too.
When you have a good day, the ego starts to feel virtuous and secretly congratulates itself for doing such a great job of meditating. Rather than getting smaller, the ego gets stronger and you end up with a ‘spiritual ego’ – the greediest ego of all!
Apply this slogan to your writing practice when you feel overwhelmed by self-doubt and negativity. The process of writing and improving your work is impossible without feedback and criticism, and some doubt is inevitable.
Your writing won’t always go the way you planned. You might spend many hours, months, even years, perfecting a story, only to realise that it simply doesn’t work. This doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer and should give up and find a new hobby.
Writing is a process and you learn along the way. Every piece of writing that you do will help to make you a better writer if you’re determined to learn from your mistakes.
So don’t beat yourself up when your writing doesn’t turn out as well as you hoped. Don’t poison yourself with unnecessary negativity. Instead, see it as an opportunity to learn something and improve your work.
Exercise: In your slogan journal list the poisonous habits, thoughts and feelings that disrupt your writing. Pick one and write about how you can apply the antidote to the poison.
More in the book – available now: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers