I’ve had some interesting conversations recently about positive thinking so I thought I’d try to clarify some classic misconceptions that people have. It seems to be a function of those who subscribe to the kind of “magical thinking” made popular by books such as The Secret and the Abraham Hicks phenomena, that they believe that constantly “being in a happy place”, telling everyone things are wonderful when they clearly aren’t and telling themselves that “everything in the universe is in its rightful place”, or that “everything happens for a reason” is somehow going to make them more successful and get them what they want in life. Sorry to burst your bubble guys, but it won’t! Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m a huge fan of optimism! I think going about having the belief that things can and will get better is one of the most certain ways, if not the only way, for them to get better. And here’s why: if you believe that things will get better you will most likely be willing to take the actions that will make them get better. At the very least you will set about looking for solutions and will start to formulate in your mind what those solutions might look like. But the very first principle of positive thinking is being honest. You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge. So forcing yourself into feeling happy about a life that is falling apart is not only stressful, its actively unhelpful. Tell your mind often enough that you are happy in this miserable place and one day it might just believe you! And once it does that, why would you bother actively looking for solutions. So acknowledge the situation you are in, get very clear about it and most importantly get very clear on how you have created this situation. Because like it or not, you have. And even if it isn’t all your fault (the world economy, deadbeat partners, useless parents, physical challenges or whoever else you’re trying to shift the blame onto), its still 100% your responsibility to change it if you don’t like it. No one else is going to change it for you. The second principle of positive thinking is to learn to think in terms of solutions. Believe there is a solution and as much as possible look for evidence that there is. Read biographies of your favourite successful people, I can guarantee most of them have been in messes as big, if not bigger than yours! Its always heartwarming to discover that your biggest heroes are just as fallible as you, but more importantly, its inspiring to read about how they got out of them! Find yourself a mentor, join a good networking group and ask for advice from people you trust. You don’t need to take all of the advice offered but do take action on the advice that makes sense to you. But don’t try to do this on your own. Create empowering relationships with people who uplift you and make you feel strong and capable and dump those who make you feel small and inadequate. There are loads of people out there willing and able to help you if only you learn to keep asking until you get an answer that is useful to you. The third principle is be open to admitting that you’re wrong! This is the hardest part. The thing is, if you’re in a situation you don’t like, there’s a good chance it’s a result of some bad decisions you made at some point. Accept this, but at the same time be kind to yourself. Let’s face it, if you’d known better you’d probably have made better decisions and all decisions carry with them learning. But if you want things to get better you are going to have to change what you’re doing, what got you here is not going to get you where you want to go! Change is difficult and the biggest problem is that most of us want change, but we don’t want to change. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could get fit without having to exercise, lose weight without having to cut down on chocolate, earn huge amounts of money without having to work harder or smarter? Change is not easy, it’s not meant to be. It’s about growth, it’s about challenge and it’s about becoming the amazingly powerful and abundant human being that you know you are. Your positive thinking needs to be about asking yourself powerful questions about what actions you can take right now to make things better. There are few things more empowering than finding yourself on the other side of a huge challenge and realising how much you have grown as a result. That’s positive thinking!
Posts Tagged ‘belief’
I was listening to a webinar this morning and something in it made me really mad – the so-called expert kept going on about how her techniques (and only her techniques) could fix your past and free you up to achieve all your wildest dreams.
The thing is people are going to pay her good money for her to do what is not only impossible, but is also not desirable!
Everything that has happened to you, every experience you have ever had, whether its good or bad, positive or negative, easy or difficult is what has created the amazing, wonderful, beautiful, learning human being that you are. Why do you need to “fix” anything? You are complete and perfect as you are.
If you want to take your life to the next level the only thing you have to do is have gratitude to the person you are and for all the lessons you have learned and decide that you are worth the time and effort it will take to put those lessons into action. You really are amazing and you deserve to shine!
If you look closely at the truly successful people around you, every one of them has encountered difficult times. What characterises them is that they have used those experiences to grow and rise above their challenges.
A diamond is only made under immense pressure. A lump of coal does not need fixing!
One of the things I see time and time again is that people do not distinguish between goals and action plans. The thing is, not doing so can get you stuck just about quicker than anything else. Its fantastic to set big hairy scary goals, in fact its the only way we ever get even close to living our potential. But when it comes to action plans its got to be easy and do-able, otherwise, chances are it won’t get done.
Here’s how I define the difference:
A goal is a result – so for example it might be a book completed, a weight loss target achieved, and income goal met or even a car owned.
The action steps are the things you need to do to achieve that result. Once you have set the goal you need to break it down into action steps and deadlines for those action steps to be completed.
In fact you can make it easier on yourself by breaking your goals down into smaller steps as well – that makes them so much easier to tackle. So for example, say you were to set a goal to lose 100 pounds by this time next year. That’s a big goal and your Inner reptile is going to go on high alert as soon as you set that as a goal so how about breaking it down a bit – how many months are we talking about – 12 of course. So your real goal is just over 8 pounds a month – is that actually do-able? There’s no point in setting a goal that is not ever going to be achievable. Experts tell us a two pounds a week weightless is healthy and sustainable so yes, its do-able. But its still a big scary number so lets break it down further – that works out at 2 pounds a week. Does 2 pounds feel less daunting that 100. Of course it does. So focus on the two pounds and the 100 will take care of itself.
You can do this same thing with income goals – say you want to earn 20k a month (dirhams, dollars, pounds, it doesn’t matter!). Its a big scary number in any currency if you are nowhere close to earning it. So break it down – what’s the most you’ve ever earned in a day? Can you see yourself doing that? You know you can because you already have. Ok now focus on doing that again and again until you have achieved your 20k,. It doesn’t even need to all be in one month to start with. Once you have achieved the number all you have to do now is work on the timescale.
If you focus on achieving it all in the first month you will scare your Inner reptile silly and we all know what the consequences of that are! And here’s the real problem, the more often you fail, the stronger the Inner Reptile’s hold on you will become. It won’t matter how strong your affirmations are, or how powerfully you visualise, your Inner Reptile is stronger and he will make it his mission to keep you safely where you are!
So now you have an easy goal to focus on that, if you do it enough times will take you to your big goal. Now look at the steps you need to take to achieve that goal. Break them down and down until you have really simple steps that you know you can do. This is your action plan. The biggest most unachievable-seeming goal is just a series of simple action steps and the easier you make it on yourself, the faster you will achieve your goals.
Goal achieving doesn’t have to be hard – its just one of those old reptilian tricks that makes us think that way!
I love this quote which apparently comes from Ghandi, who knew a thing or two!
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”
But then I love Robbie Williams’ version too!
So often I hear people saying “I’ll believe it when I see it” but the reality is the reverse is true! We very rarely, if ever, see things we don’t believe in. People who believe in ghosts see ghosts all the time, people who believe in love find love everywhere and people who believe in success see opportunity everywhere!
You see if we don’t believe in something we will never spend any time or energy looking for it. And even if we did see it, we would probably not recognise it anyway, so our belief that it didn’t exist would just be reinforced. There’s a story about a tribe in the Amazon who can’t see airplanes – they literally don’t see them even when they are flying overhead – those big loud silver things are totally invisible to them! Because airplanes are not in their belief system.
Make sure that success is in your belief system all the time. Even when it seems like the evidence is pointing the other way, hold onto that belief that success and opportunity are all around you and always remember – what you focus on is what grows!
You’ll see it when you believe it!
I’ve read a couple of great stories recently about expectations.
The first one is about a university student who fell asleep during a maths class and woke up just before the end and hurriedly copied two problems off the board assuming they were that week’s homework. She spent the whole week trying to work them out and came to the next class feeling very apprehensive as she’d only managed to solve one of them. The teacher was astonished as both problems were apparently unsolvable and had perplexed the best maths brains for decades! But no one told her that! She assumed the problems were her homework and she assumed that if that was so then she should be able to solve them.
How many problems are you failing to get solutions for, simply because you believe there is no solution?
The second story is about a new teacher at a school – the headmaster told her she was teaching a very special class of super talented pupils. At the end of the first term their results were spectacular, but exactly as she expected for a such a talented class. Except they weren’t – they were just an ordinary group of mixed ability kids. The headmaster had misled her! But her belief in those children and her expectations for them had turned them all into super achievers!
How would you change the way you worked if you believed your team were all geniuses?
Have you ever said something and then stopped and thought “Oh my God, I sound exactly like my mother (or father)”? I can’t think there’s many of us beyond teenagehood who haven’t had that thought! And its really not surprising, we learned to speak from our parents and of course it makes sense that we often use the same words and expressions.
But it goes deeper than that. When we were tiny babies, at an age where we were open to everything, when we accepted ideas completely uncritically, our parents were unconsciously programming us to think like them! Most of our belief systems come from our parents – they’re not even ours! But here’s the scary thing – their belief systems were not theirs either – they were programmed by their parents, and their parents before them!
So here we are in the 21st century walking around with programming that goes back to the 19th century, or maybe even earlier! Is it any wonder that sometimes life seems a bit more complicated than it should be?
Here’s a great exercise that will open your mind: Think about your beliefs and ask yourself where did that come from. Lets start with an easy one – Money. What do you believe about money, does it come easy? Do you never have enough? Does it grow on trees? Do only bad people make money? Is it normal to be broke? Ask yourself as many questions as you can think of about your beliefs around money. Now look at the questions again and ask yourself “how would my mother have answered that question? How would my father have answered it?” If your parents are still around and open to it, it is fantastic to ask them to take part, but even if they’re not you will be surprised how much you know about their beliefs. Now do the same thing with your grandparents – now you might not have as clear an idea but think about how your parents talked about their parents, its amazing how much you know that you didn’t know you knew! See how far back you can go. You can do this exercise with relationships, goal setting, career, almost anything you can think of and the results are always fascinating!
Some of the biggest issues in our lives are not actually our own! I had a client who traced back his own disastrous relationships to his great, great grandmother who was dumped at the alter! His unconscious belief that men should always let women down went back nearly 100 years, and in fact it probably went back even further than that! Another client who was brilliant at making money but equally brilliant at losing it traced it back to her great great great grandfather who was an aristocrat and became a missionary and gave away his entire family fortune!
Our family stories are what shape us and what make us unique and wonderful, but that doesn’t mean we have to carry around all their baggage as well!