Being an observer of people and behavior and someone who is generally “glass half full”, I have taken notice of common statements that people make that I often kind of cringe at. I have caught myself saying some of them at one time or another, and found that re-structuring the way I think proves to be quite helpful.
I have been on a kind of soul searching expedition over the past few years (really much longer than that). More often than I would like to admit, I have found myself feeling, unhappy, unsettled, and generally displeased with certain aspects of my life. While I feel these revelations are necessary in order to gain personal growth, I am also fully aware of the fact that in order to find a happier, better self, you must be aware of the restrictions you place on yourself and be willing to change them. Sometimes it is as simple as listening to yourself speak.
I think that people get into ruts in life without even realizing it. We start out with goals and ideas and dreams in mind, and carry on toward them. For whatever reasons, we often take the wrong path, or maybe the right path just leads us to someplace unexpected. But there are certain mind sets that sometimes take place that can be quite detrimental to our JOY.
I have always been interested in success stories. You know the ones….people who fought agains the odds and came out on top. J. K. Rowling, for example, was a single mother on welfare, living in poverty and diagnosed with clinical depression before her success in writing the “Harry Potter” books. Many people would have chalked her life up to failure before she became famous. Oprah Winfrey came from poverty and sexual abuse but managed to become one of the most well known, respected and wealthy women in the world. Walt Disney was fired from his first job because he was said to have no imagination, only to become the founder of a giant industry where creativity is the cornerstone.
I came to realize that all of these success stories have something in common; the mind set to perservere regardless of their circumstances or what other people deem as a rational choice…or not. Unemployed, depressed and poor, Ms. Rowling still wrote her books and attempted to get them published. Without the ability to try, she would most certainly not be where she is today. Oprah became successful at a time when it was difficult for African Americans to do so, but she didn’t let that stop her from trying…and succeeding. Walt Disney pursued his vision in spite of what his employers told him and has experienced a life full of vision.
I’m sure they all felt defeated at some point. People and life discouraged them. Circumstances did not make their efforts easy. Through it all, though, they maintained a positive attitude and a belief in themselves. While seeking success in your life it is important to remember that statements and thoughts with a negative feel can undermine that positive thinking.
“If I had a million dollars I would…”
I heard this statement innumerable times when I was growing up and have heard myself say it (dreadfully). This statement is alright if said in jest, but if the thought process behind it is inability, then it can truly destroy positive thinking. It reinforces an idea somewhere inside you that you will only be successful IF you win a ton of money. Pinning your future on this minuscule possibility will most definitely set you up for failure, and if you’re like me, you never play the lottery anyway. If you find yourself thinking this or saying it, redirect your thoughts to what you DO have and what you can do with it or how you can improve your financial situation. Money is a necessary evil and something that most people wish for. Let’s face it, it makes life easier in many ways and it’s required to survive. Many of the goals we have require funding, but inactivity while waiting to win the lottery is just a waste of precious time. Somewhere inside your mind and soul, you know this will likely never happen, therefore you’re telling yourself that you will never attain your goals.
“I hate my job, but there’s nothing else out there”
A miserable job contributes to a miserable existence (I low this first hand). We spend a great deal of time at our jobs, which raises the percentage of time in our life that we are unhappy. Acceptance of a miserable job will only cement the idea in your mind that your career is uncontrollably unhappy…therefore you are destined to be unhappy. Sometimes compromise has to take place in order to find career happiness, but you need to convince yourself that it IS attainable. Maybe happiness means taking on a different job that may pay less and adjust your habits. Maybe it means making necessary changes in the job you currently have. Maybe it means going back to school to get training in a different field or maybe you need to spend a significant amount of time seeking out alternative employment. I once heard something to the effect of, “if you’re unhappy and you do nothing about it, then you have no one to blame but yourself”. If you’re unhappy in your job…make changes…not excuses.
“You’re lucky you have a husband/wife who…”
I have heard this said many times by people who are unhappy with certain aspects of their relationships or entirely. This statement says to yourself that you’re not fortunate. If you have a spouse or significant other who is not meeting your needs in some way, you’re enforcing a belief that these things cannot and will not change. In addition, you’re telling yourself subconsciously that you made a bad choice in partners and not only that, but you’re accepting this bad choice as something you have to live with. By placing your focus on the person you see as luckier that you, rather than focusing on how you can improve your own happiness, you are creating feelings of defeat and emotional paralysis that will keep you from moving forward. If you find yourself saying this, you need to act on those feelings and reach out to your partner for resolution or accept that maybe a relationship change is needed.
“I could never do what you do”
I was a single mother for 11 years. When I became a single parent, my children were 9 months old and 2 years old. I had no college education, no job, and I was $40,000 in debt. Although I do not claim to have made impeccable choices all my life, I have always been motivated. At one point I was working 2 jobs and going to college full time, while raising my kids. I came in contact with many women in similar boats and I can’t tell you how many times I heard them say this. Telling someone else that you could never do what they’re doing is telling yourself the same. Nothing will will put a hole in your sails faster than this! These kinds of statements set you up to accept the unacceptable and to feel powerless. Feelings or powerlessness are the MOST destructive things in personal growth. Sometimes life events can make us feel powerless, but re-directing those ideas into how to become more powerful is the only way you can combat them. Gaining power over your life will put the wind back in your sailed and send you on your way.
“If I could just find a nice guy/girl I would be happy”
Creating a self-worth that is dependent on another person is completely self-destructive. These kinds of statements negate your abilities and value as an individual. Have you ever heard that, “you can’t make others happy until you make yourself happy?” This is undeniably true! Being one with yourself and loving who you are is profoundly important when seeking happiness. Another person will not give that to you, no matter how great they are. A great partner can certainly accentuate happiness, but if you place your self-worth on another person’s presence, you will likely attract someone who does the complete opposite or repel someone who could be a great addition to your life.
“I don’t have time to…”
This is a defeatist statement if I have ever heard one (and I have said this many times). I don’t have time to go to college, or look for another job, or exercise, or whatever the thing is that you’re rationalizing against. If you find the thing important enough to be talking about it, you most likely require it in order to feel fulfilled. Stating that you don’t have the time is an easy excuse, but the hidden message is that you don’t have faith in yourself. This should be a red flag that you need to re-process the way you’re thinking. If something is important to your happiness…find the time. It may not be easy. In fact, it may be quite difficult, but in the end it will be worth it. Even if your efforts don’t result in the kind of joy you anticipated, the self-worth you will create by acting, instead of giving up, will have a very positive effect on how you see yourself and your future.
“My family/friends would think I was crazy if …”
These kinds of statements are some of the most damaging. Not following your dreams, ignoring your own intuition, or neglecting your hopes out of fear that others will not approve will result in low self-esteem and an extreme lack of trust in yourself. This will make you an emotional and spiritual zombie. You might as well connect a remote control to your body and let others control your every move. No matter how much you love your friends and family, your life is your own. They may have their own agendas (most likely they do). Parents may not be able to relate to your hopes and dreams because they grew up in a different time or different environment. People in your life may not want to give up the amount of time they get to spend with you, or they may be afraid that your success will change the mechanics of your relationship. Maybe they had a bad experience and are honestly trying to prevent you from having the same, but one persons experience does not ensure that yours will be the same. Don’t let other people keep you from doing what you want and need to do. While their support and encouragement would be nice, your success is in your hands.
I grew up in a house with 2 brothers and a neighborhood of primarily boys. I was also a tomboy and not much into “girly” things. I worked as hard as my brothers around the house and was never relieved of chores because I was a girl. As I grew up, I was consistently reminded that I could do anything the boys could do. When I would voice feelings of inability, my step-dad used to say, “can’t never did anything”. IF you want something badly enough…YOU CAN! Remember the book, “The Little Engine That Could”? This is important to always remember because when you believe in yourself, anything is possible! Life is hard. Most of us have mountains to climb many times throughout life, but allowing yourself to fall into negative thinking will only hold you back. Even if it’s the most foreign idea to you, tell yourself over and over that YOU CAN do whatever it is that you want to do. If that thing turns out to be something less than what you had hoped for, tell yourself that YOU CAN do something different!
Life is fleeting but possibility is endless! Think positive thoughts and believe in yourself!
“To make the right choices in life, you have to get in touch with your soul. To do this, you need to experience solitude, which most people are afraid of, because in silence you hear the truth and know the solutions.” –Deepak Chopra