Today’s audio recording can be accessed here. Please note that this recording is about 11 minutes long.
The need to believe in yourself is so critical to our happiness that it is the first principle in “Simple Steps… Real Change, the Book.” It’s been awhile since I published the book so today I’m going to repost this chapter and the Simple Step that goes with it.
Every Simple Step published is one that I have used and continue to when I need to change my perspective. That is what this is all about after all… Changing the perspective that you have about yourself. So without any more editorializing… here is the chapter “Believe in Yourself” from my book.
Believe In Yourself
When you believe in yourself life is filled with promise and possibilities. Unfortunately, if you have experienced “failure,” in your own eyes, then your self-image prevents you from believing in your dreams. Did you realize that how you perceive yourself is the single most important factor in your success? It doesn’t matter what your friends, family, boss or coworkers might be thinking. If you believe in yourself and move forward with the confidence that can do anything that you set your mind to…you accomplish it.
“Often we don’t even realize who we’re meant to be because we’re so busy trying to live out someone else’s ideas. But other people and their opinions hold no power in defining our destiny.” Oprah Winfrey (1954 – )
Here are a couple of interesting facts that might just surprise you. Scientists estimate that every day we have 60,000 thoughts. Most of them, 95%, are repeat thoughts from the day before. If something hasn’t gone right, and you keep thinking about what didn’t work, then you are reinforcing this negative idea over and over again. Repetition is a fabulous process when you want to instill a new habit. It sucks the life out of you when you don’t.
Consider Erin’s Story. Erin allowed an abusive ex-husband’s opinions to overshadow her own even after she had moved on and by all accounts had a wonderful life.
Erin* and her Past (*Names have been changed)
Erin & I worked together for many years. She was married to a loving man, Dan, whose main purpose in life seemed to be spoiling her. Erin received flowers and expensive gifts from her husband in addition to enjoying quiet, romantic times where she could feel his love.
Erin had been previously married before to a physically and emotionally abusive man, Ron. They had children together. Erin raised her children with love and shielded them as much as she could from their father. By all accounts she was a loving & dedicated mother whose children adored her and supported her divorcing their dad.
In addition to being a good mother Erin was a hard worker, competent, and dedicated to her work. Yet despite all of the good things going for her Erin measured her self-worth by the comments of her ex-husband. She believed that she would not accomplish anything that she set out to do, that she was less qualified than just about anyone else, and her life was worthless. Erin’s focused on the negative aspects of her prior life and she was miserable.
It was painful to watch Erin and even harder to talk with her. Though married to her second husband for far longer than she was with her first she had never allowed the support and love of Dan triumph over the Ron’s abuse. The longer that I worked with Erin the more frustrating it was to watch. Erin became her own worst enemy.
One day when we were having a heart to heart chat about her attitude I asked her why Ron’s opinions mattered more to her than Dan’s. She was appalled that I’d even think that they did. As we talked through her negativity she came to realize that she was giving more power to her ex-husband than he ever deserved …to the detriment of her wonderful family and her career. If there ever was an “aha” moment in Erin’s life this was it.
Erin’s life did not change overnight. She did however take a Simple Step by catching her negative thoughts and comments as they came to her. By reconsidering her focus and reaching for the positive thought she began traveling the road towards believing in herself.
Recall that 95% of our thoughts are repeated from the prior day. Now let’s take this one step further what if all those negative thoughts that are going through your head are wrong? Have you ever thought the worst about a situation only to check in with someone else and they have no idea what you are talking about? If you don’t know what is going on do you look to fill that information gap some way? What if you are wrong?
Here is Mark’s Story. Mark is a successful and charming man. His negative thoughts about his physical appearance drove even the love of his life away.
Mark* and his Self Image
Mark is a brilliant IT guru who has lived a colorful life. He’s funny, outgoing, has traveled the world, enjoys a variety of sports. From the outside he has all the trappings of a good life (good job, close friends, nice home, sports car.) Mark however believes that he will never find his soul mate because of how he looks. He sees himself as short, bald and generally unattractive. Mark is a gregarious guy, though when he gets nervous around someone he would like to date; his comments turn to self-deprecating jokes.
Women are attracted to Mark because he is a caring and funny guy. By all accounts he is a great date. Mark is actually a cute teddy bear kind of guy. What he didn’t realize was his self-image issues were more than his dates wanted to deal with.
Mark met a kindred soul in Amy. They enjoyed the same food, movies and liked to travel. Amy was a petite girl, highly educated, and so good at her craft that she tended to scare most men away. She enjoyed Mark’s company and felt that she had found the man that she could spend the rest of her life with.
Mark’s insecurity however kept him from seeing the opportunity for happiness that was waiting for him with Amy. Amy grew tired of Mark’s self deprecating ways. She decided to end their relationship rather than continue in the negativity that Mark defined for himself. While there is no “Happy Ever After” in this story there is a valuable lesson. When you focus on the negative that is what you will receive more of. Don’t let your negativity keep you from realizing your dreams.
Rather than imagining the worst about yourself…what if you imagined the best? Wouldn’t that be fun?!? You feel so much better when you believe in yourself.
As you incorporate the Simple Steps into your life you can watch as your scales begin to tip to support you more often than before. Positive change soon outweighs the negativity. Keep your momentum going and your dreams become your reality!
Simple Step #1 enables you to question your negative thoughts, and convert them into ones that serve you better…and support your new focus to Believe in Yourself!
Simple Step #1 Re-frame Your Thoughts
Pick a thought that has been nagging you. Then change that negative thought into a positive one.
Here are a few examples:
I should have gone to the gym and worked out.
I decided to spend time with my friends rather than working out tonight. I needed to relax after a stressful week. I know that I am committed to my workouts. Tomorrow is Saturday and I’ll spend an extra 20 minutes running and increase my reps.
I should never have taken this job.
This job has been an eye opening experience. I have met some good people along the way. The job isn’t right for me but now I know what I do want to do with my life and I will focus my job search in that direction.
I’ve failed at every diet and will never be in shape
I’ve tried fad diets in the past but they weren’t right for me. Being healthy is important and I need to learn about the best way for me to improve my physical condition. I made an appointment with my doctor and will ask for her recommendation and support.
You will feel better when you are kinder to yourself!
A comment on feeling better… Your emotions tell you when you are on the right path. If what you feel is good…you are on the right track. If they feel bad you are not. That may sound simplistic however you are the best judge of what is right for you.
When you have negative thoughts…change them to what feels better and believe in yourself! When you actively choose thoughts that feel better you are on the happiness path. And when you believe in yourself everything about your life improves.