Slogan 55: Examine and Analyse

Examine and analyse is about examining how you’re doing with your mind training and analysing how you can continue to improve.

The original lojong slogan is: Liberate yourself by examining and analysing, and it turns the previous slogan on its head. Instead of dissolving your problems by opening your heart, this slogan asks you to think about and analyse them in great detail.

Deconstructing and examining your feelings and behaviour stops you from falling into the trap we saw in slogan 52 where you avoid dealing with difficult emotions by floating off into a spiritual fantasy world. To be sure you’re not fooling yourself, you need to watch the way your ego builds its defences so you can see how and why your negative habits arise. Because if you don’t fully understand these defensive patterns you won’t know if you have overcome them.

Your negative habits work best when they stay hidden behind the walls of your defensive structures, so this slogan tells you to force down the door, march in there and have a proper look around.

Apply this slogan to your writing practice by checking in with yourself to see how you’re doing on a regular basis.

Writers spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about motivations. You need to understand why your characters choose certain actions over others in order to create believable subtext and storylines. So you’re probably quite used to the kind of questioning this slogan demands. However, you might not be so diligent in applying this technique to yourself.

This slogan is designed to focus your attention on what’s important and keep you on track so you don’t drift along oblivious to what you’re doing. Asking the right questions will help you notice when things aren’t going the way you want, and make the necessary adjustments to your path. This will stop you from wandering in circles and repeating yourself.

You can learn a lot about yourself by examining and analysing your writing and asking the right questions. Not only will you release yourself from bad habits that hold you back, but being honest with yourself will also help to keep your writing fresh.

Exercise: In your slogan journal, explore your writing by answering these questions: Why did you create these particular characters? How are they like you and how are they different? What can you learn from this?

More in the book: Free Your Pen: Mind Training for Writers

Next: Slogan 56 – Don’t Wallow

Image: Selfridges