When I began learning guitar as a young teen it was a struggle. Everyday I would fight with the negative thoughts that kept creeping into my head. “You’ll never be any good on guitar” or “It’s too late dude. The best musicians begin when they are 5 or younger” or “Some people are born with musical talent. The rest of us shouldn’t even bother”. I wanted to seriously quit on at least 3 occasions that I can recall. The doubts about my ability were non-stop but generally I could push through. I didn’t realise until years later as a teacher that I was simply ill equipped to handle the negativity in my head.
Your mind decides your level of success
Training your mind is no different to training your guitar skills. Your guitar skills determine your level of ability therefore what music you can and can’t play. By developing your skills the range of music available to you to perform increases. Training your mind and will have the same effect on your overall success. When the negative thoughts were floating around in my head as a teen I would often cut my practice short or stop challenging myself by defaulting back to simple songs I could already play. My negative thoughts were telling me that if I couldn’t execute a difficult guitar line in one sitting I never would. The F chord is the classic example. It took me about 2 years to play a clean sounding F bar chord but for ages I told myself I would never be able to do it. What took 2 years probably could have been achieve in 6 months had I not been sabotaging myself mentally.
‘As a man (or woman) thinketh’
Our actions are largely the result of our feelings which are the result of our thoughts. For example we might think of a delicious meal. This creates the feeling of desire for food which in turn causes us to take action and seek the food we desire. We actually have less control as we progress through these stages. When the thought first comes into your head the feeling and desire are just a spark. If you quickly move on to a new thought the spark fizzles. If you allow the feeling to grow by keeping the thought in your mind you will find it difficult to resist taking action. In the food example this becomes increasingly difficult when the food is easily available. This means we should be focusing our energy at the point of entry. The initial though.
The successful guitarist mind
If you are not actively conditioning your thoughts you will be allowing the world around you to influence you. The problem is we are surrounded by negative influences. This could be from media outlets. Turn on the news on any given day and you’ll be hard press to see a positive story. Or it could be family or friends. They mean well but odds are they are expressing their own personal fears. To control what comes out you must control what goes in. For the successful guitar student this means filling your head with inspirational stories of successful people. It doesn’t even have to be just guitarists. Anyone can serve as a positive example for you. When we hear how successful people went from average to great often by overcoming a range of challenges and most of all persisting we become inspired. This conditioning of your mind will be your greatest weapon in fighting the negative voices in your head and the negative opinions of others. If you have at least a few good fingers and are able to sit up and hold a guitar you have the same potential as everyone else.