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I have decided to carry on with my series examining the often-overlooked positive emotions, this time looking at inspiration.

Inspiration is, simply, the feeling of opening up to new ways of looking at or doing things.  It is excitement – the feeling of growing larger, stronger and more capable when presented with an idea or someone’s example.  Far from being just a mental process, inspiration can be a very physical and social one too.  It fits in with the broaden-and-build model developed by Dr Barbara Fredrickson – feeling inspired can encourage us to connect with others, and develop resilience and ability to cope with difficult situations.

When we see someone or something inspiring, we discover new things are possible for us.  It gives us an example.  We raise our expectations of what we can achieve, and gain some pointers as to how to do it.

How do you react when seeing someone else’s achievements or ideas?  You might find that you quickly shut the feeling down – this can be your mind’s way of defending you.  If you are afraid of failure, or embarrassment, you might find that you talk yourself out of trying things to avoid that risk – shutting down your feeling of inspiration.  You might use phrases like, “That’s alright for them, but I couldn’t do that”.  Or you might tell yourself that people will laugh at you for even thinking that you could do something.  Where have these messages come from?  Who says people will laugh?  Have people laughed at you before?  Did they have their own agenda of holding you back?

These are all difficult questions to answer, and it may be that you choose to hold back from something because that really is the best choice for you at the time.  However, it is worth asking those questions to be sure your reasons for holding back are your own rather than someone else’s.

When was the last time you felt inspired, and what did you do with the feeling?  Who inspires you?  Who lives the life you want, and how might you follow their example?  What holds you back – and are these obstacles from outside you or from within?

Are you ready to open up to inspiration?  Good luck! 🙂