The Destruction Of Progress – Save Yourself

Do you remember the first time you learned to ride a bike? Like most of us this was likely a very frustrating experience. Especially at the point when you fell on the pavement and felt the literal pain of your mistake. While I’m unaware of the exact thought going through your mind at that very moment, it’s pretty safe to assume it was negative.

If you ultimately succeeded at riding your bike without falling again, it is also likely that positive thought was at the forefront of your success. That positive message may have come from a parent, guardian or friend of some sort, but what’s ultimately important is that it was there.

Had you not replaced your negative feelings of pain and defeat you may have never taken that next step to get back on your bike and ride again. Learning to ride a bike is not usually a two step process though. It usually takes several attempts and possible falls before failure gives way to success.

After Every Mistake, There’s Another Waiting In The Wings

Scratching is no different and thus you will have many upsets coming at you continually through the process of scratch improvement. Unlike when you learned to ride a bike, you won’t always have someone there to pick your ego off the floor and dust it off. You have to become self sufficient.

Even if you have a high quality scratch teacher that you regularly train with, they can’t always be there with you every step of the way. A truly good teacher will give you the tools to make regular leaps in progression without their constant presence. This leads to getting much bigger results during practice than you would otherwise.

Every Time Counts

Some common thoughts that typically occur during frustrating moments of scratch practice usually start off with, “I can’t”. The reality is your brain will believe whatever you tell it, especially if you habitually do so. The reverse is also true. If you regularly feed your brain with positive thought, it’ll believe that too.

If you’re accustomed to thinking in a negative manner when faced with challenges in your scratching, it may prove too difficult to avoid it. What I’m proposing is not to avoid it, but rather to face negative thought head on.

When dealing with negative thoughts, the goal is to replace those thoughts with its opposite. For example, “I can’t” becomes “I will”. Retraining your brain in this manner is a long term process and must be done each and every time negativity rears its ugly head.

Negative Thought Vs. Criticism

Although negative thought is indeed a form of criticism. It is a detrimental form of criticism. This doesn’t mean that you should abandon criticism or replace every form of criticism with something else. Criticism when done right is very constructive and fuels progress.

In fact constructive criticism is just another link in the chain of positive thought. Your goal is not to lie to yourself in order to feel good about your struggles. It is to acknowledge what needs improvement in your scratching and to have a strong sense of faith that you will overcome whatever problems you encounter.

Strength In Numbers

While regularly changing negative streams of thought to positives ones should be something you’re able to do on your own, we don’t live in a vacuum. Having friends, associates or a high quality scratch mentor who successfully does the same thing is very helpful.

Often times simply surrounding yourself with these types of people can greatly improve your outlook on things. Not to mention they can offer you their own take on how to stay positive that you might not have considered. Just like seeking out positive thoughts, you must also seek out positive people. If you do this, negativity doesn’t stand a chance.

The Art of Having Fun

When you first started to scratch it is pretty safe to assume that you intended to have fun. Most likely you did and continued to enjoy yourself or you probably wouldn't be reading this. Likewise, it's also pretty safe to assume that you don't always have fun when you scratch. Unfortunately there are no guarantees that scratching will always be fun for you. However, you can greatly increase the odds of having fun if you focus on the right things when scratching.

Well Intended Focus

If you're even the least bit serious about scratching than you have goals. Whether your goals are big or small is irrelevant for the purpose of this article. Goals are all about expectations. Every goal has a natural expectation built into it that it will be achieved. That expectation may not always be backed by confidence, but the expectation is still there.

Unfortunately, not every goal we set for ourselves is easily achieved and the process of achievement in scratching can be extremely tough on your spirits. Many mistakes and setbacks will inevitably take place and if you're not careful those setbacks can be a huge source of frustration. Having fun in the face of frustration is not easily done either. Yet it is vital that you continue to enjoy what you do or you will not be able to tough it out through all the obstacles that you'll encounter.

Shifting Your Focus

Since having fun is clearly important, you need to keep your mind on the things you associate with feeling good. We've all experienced some form of victory in our life so we know how good it feels to achieve a goal. Thus, achieving your goals in scratching will also feel good so you must stay focused on those feelings. Especially during your most challenging times you need to think about how good it will feel to break past your frustrations and be at the level you're shooting for.

Being more focused on the joy of achievement throughout your experiences in scratching will actually make the challenges you face more fun. This is because you have now reframed your problems as mere bumps in the road to things you'll inevitably achieve. Once you consistently think like this no problem will seem to truly stand in your way.

Thinking Beyond Goals

Let's also realize that the reason we have goals at all in scratching is so we can express ourselves freely. While it is obvious that once you have mastered scratching you will be able to express essentially anything you want at any moment, it is not as obvious that you still have power to express yourself with scratching at any skill level. Thus, it's important to recognize and take comfort in this fact. This will enable you to enjoy yourself even more along your journey to full on self actualization because a part of what you ultimately want is with you all along.

Focusing on Having Fun Creates Fun

The coolest thing about fun is simply thinking about having fun puts you in a space where fun is possible. If your primary intention is to have fun, it is very likely that you will. Bottom line, don't let tough times slow you down. Keep looking for good times and they'll be yours!

Why Sacrificing Tomorrow For Today Will Fail You

We've all been through it. You're looking forward all day to scratching. The day creeps along and by the time you're home and ready, you just want to sit down, watch tv and relax. You think, "I'll just chill for a bit, then I'll get on the cut." Yet before you know it, thirty minutes turns into an hour, an hour turns into two and now all you want to do is sleep. Or at the very least not get up. You think, "I'll just scratch tomorrow." No big deal right? Right! If this was only just an occasional occurrence, but if you look back on all the times this has happened, you're probably staring right down the barrel of a ton of missed scratch progression and fun.

Guilt is Not Enough

You almost feel guilty knowing how much time you've actually cheated yourself out of. It's frustrating, but you can't get that time back so what do you do? Perhaps resolve to breaking out of the trap of time wasting. Yet there's still a part of you that doesn't really believe you can change so radically. Guilt will only take you so far. While guilt can be a motivator, a lot of times it only deflates us. So we avoid it in order to not feel bad about ourselves instead of actually fixing the problem. It's unfortunate because approaching the issue like this only sets you up to repeat this cycle of failure.

Why Approach Life With an All or Nothing Mentality?

That question might sound funny considering this article seems very much like exactly that. Let me assure you it's not the case. There is a time and a place for everything that brings you joy in life provided it doesn't hurt you or anyone else. What you really have to assess is, are the activities you regularly engage in actually all that enjoyable. Sadly, many times this is not the case. You're simply just going through the motions of life.

Going back to television as an example, if something you're watching is adding fuel to the fire and filling you full of inspiration to scratch, than that should be considered a wise investment of your time (provided you act on that inspiration of course). On the other hand, if what you're watching is just idle chatter and not inspiring you to do anything more than just sink further into the couch, then you should probably get up immediately and go accomplish something more worthy of your time.

Start Small or You Won't Start at All

The most common mistake people make about achievement is that a lot has to be accomplished in a short period of time and if you don't get a ton of things accomplished in one day, somehow you've failed yourself. With that type of thinking it's no wonder so many people put things off so regularly. The truth is that type of thinking is very small. Most likely all those big things that you feel the need to get done quickly are very minor when put up against the big picture.

Focus on the Big Picture!

You have to think about what you ultimately want to achieve from scratching. From how you'll sound, how you'll be perceived, what impact you'll make, whether you want a professional career, what you'll get out of that career, etc. Most importantly, you have to really take time to imagine and get close with how achieving all those things will really make you feel. Now ask yourself, what do you need to do to make your scratch goals a reality? Now ask yourself, what can I do right now at this very moment to get me closer to my goals? Believe it or not that answer does not have to be something equally big. How could it if you truly created a large scale dreamscape for yourself?

The fact of life we all know too well is nothing is achieved overnight. However, taking steps in the right direction consistently will get you there, even if those steps are baby sized. So take bigger steps when you can, but always take forward steps of any size and I promise you won't regret it.

Why Lacking Awareness of Your Progress Kills Motivation

When working to achieve your goals it is very common to think only of your goals as the mark of achievement. While there is some truth to this, if you only think in this manner, it will be very difficult for you to continue moving forward with your scratching. Particularly, if the goals you're working to attain are extremely challenging. The reality is there are many steps of achievement within each and every goal you will ever take on and it is vital to acknowledge and appreciate when you've accomplished them.

When you don't appreciate each moment of progress you experience, your mind tends to focus on only one thing. That thing is frustration and if that's all you're focused on, you will bury yourself in it. Staying motivated in a blanket of frustration is next to impossible. The natural result of this type of negative mindset when scratching is you'll start to believe you can't actually achieve your goal. The more you believe you can't do something, the more it will become true because your mind believes what you tell it. Once you fall that far into disbelief, it'll only be that much more frustrating to withstand the challenges of your goals and like most, you'll probably give up.

Open Your Eyes and See What's There

Admittedly, it isn't always easy to keep track of all your accomplishments, especially if they aren't blatantly obvious. However, it can be done much easier than you may realize. Imagine, you were on a weight loss program and you had a goal to lose 100 pounds. Obviously, losing 100 pounds is not an easy task and if you truly need to lose that much weight, it'll take awhile before you start visually noticing actual weight loss. If you didn't have a scale, you would probably assume within the first few weeks that all your efforts towards your goal are ineffective so why bother. Clearly, that is a foolish way to go about things though and using a tool as simple as a scale to keep track of your progress is extremely common and effective.

Use the Right Tool for the Job

In scratching, progress is more measurable in some areas than others. However, all of your progress can be kept track of with recording. For example, if your goal is to scratch at a very fast speed, you can record yourself scratching over a beat and incrementally increase the speed of that beat until you reach the speed you desire. All the while listening to your recordings to hear how close you are coming to scratching at the level you're aiming for.

When working on something like improvisation, it can be harder to measure in such a clear cut manner as speed, but definitely something that can be put under the microscope. Simply record your freestyle sessions on a regular basis and compare older recordings with current recordings, while thinking of all the areas of your improvisational abilities you wish to improve. The more you listen thoughtfully, the more you should be able to hear how you're advancing in those areas.

When Regression Occurs

Truthfully, not every recording you make will be packed full of progression. You may experience moments of making mistakes you thought you had gotten past already. While on the surface this may seem like a bad thing, it's actually good because now you're aware that some of your practicing methods may not be as effective as you previously thought. This affords you the opportunity to seek out better ways of working to achieve your goals and begin getting much better results. While you may not know what those methods are, there is someone out there that does. I have worked with people such as you and helped them to achieve their goals much faster than they would have otherwise with fully effective and efficient practice regimens. If you feel you're not getting big enough results from your efforts check out my Scratch DJ Lessons.

Take Pride in Yourself

While keeping track of your progress is important, it's only a means to an end. Ultimately, when becoming aware of all of your improvement, you need to take time to actually enjoy the fact that YES, you are definitely moving forward. When you do so you will be happier, have more fun, feel like everything is not as hard as it may have seemed previously and thus continually stay motivated to bust through the obstacles that stand between you and your goals!

Are You Caught in a Delusion of Ruts?

Being in a rut is an all too common problem for many people who scratch. Not surprisingly, this causes tons of frustration for anyone who believes they are in such a rut. Often times this can lead to you losing the joy you experience when scratching, or even worse loss of motivation to scratch at all. Ruts are an all too real problem. Or are they?

Why would you ever doubt the existence of ruts? After all, you’ve likely been hearing about them from every walk of life imaginable for so long, you’d probably feel like a fool to consider that they could just be a fallacy. So when you begin to feel you are suffering from one, it only becomes more real to you.

Subtle Improvement

What if you were to reject popular belief for now in order to consider what is really behind this so called rut of yours? Perhaps you’re experiencing a lack of growth in your scratch skills. You feel like you’ve been at it for awhile and there is no obvious progress taking place. What you have to understand is that, while you may have high expectations of yourself, you’re not necessarily going to see any big advancement over night.

In fact you’ve probably also had the experience of feeling like you were in a rut and suddenly you have a major breakthrough seemingly out of nowhere. How can this be so? Well the truth is you were never in a rut. You were simply going through the process of improvement. You made mistake, after mistake, after mistake, all the while getting closer to hitting the nail on the head. So what happened? You stayed persistent with your scratching until you finally achieved what seemed like such a big struggle before.

Frustration Takes Over

When you have a big challenge on your hands it may seem overwhelming because you are constantly comparing your current skill with that of what you want it to be. As you continue to struggle through, you start accumulating all these experiences of frustration caused by not yet achieving your goal. So much so that a lot of times you’ll fail to realize how much closer you’re actually getting to what you set out to do originally and all your focus gets fixated on your frustration from scratching instead. This type of thinking is really pointless and here we are, right back to believing we’re in a rut.

A Change of Focus Makes a World of Difference

If you look back to the previous perspective you’ll see that part of it was right. Focusing on what you ultimately want to achieve with each goal you set for yourself is important. However, focusing too much on the struggle is clearly taking the life out of something you should be having fun doing. So what you must focus on instead is each little victory you make along the way to your goal.

Now you might be saying to yourself, "What victories? I haven’t succeeded yet." Think of all your mistakes when scratching as a learning experience. Not one to think that you’re just not getting it, you’re not good enough, or any other garbage you’ve been feeding yourself. Take the time to actually think about what’s going wrong and how you can fix it.

It’s so easy to bang away at something without really thinking, but successful people don’t do this. Successful people recognize that taking the time to analyze what’s holding them back is worth doing because they believe, whether they know the answer or not, they will get to the bottom of things. So each time they make a mistake they realize it’s worth celebrating, because now they have another thing they can learn from and this type of mindset will inevitably lead to larger victories.

The Many Faces of Ruts

So now you might be saying to yourself, "Well that’s great, but I’m not having that kind of rut. I’m having a creative block." Or perhaps you have some other issue that you consider to be slowing you down to a screeching halt. You can’t let it get to you though. You have to realize that all of these kinds of feelings you’re experiencing are really just your mind signaling to you that you need to take a step back and truly think about what’s wrong and how you can fix it.

Sulking about it isn’t going to do any good. The brain loves to problem solve and if you just muck about, you’re not allowing it to do what it does best. You may not have the answer now, but if you get used to thinking of ways to resolve your scratch problems, you will resolve them. It’s a healthy habit to develop that WILL yield results.

The First Step is Faith

Faith in yourself. Faith in your goals. Faith in the capacity of the human brain. And why shouldn’t you have this faith? Look around you. There are many who have achieved great feats in scratching. At one time or another, they were no different than you. Cultivate faith and then take action!