You could say life begins for everyone as a negative experience.
Don’t agree with that? As evidence I would say nobody ever told you their newborn baby kept them up all night laughing.
If life were a poker game, I would argue that the deck is pretty well stacked.
- It takes a couple of years for us to stop crying and believe people around us are going to feed us and change or diapers.
- Early childhood is quite the bootcamp. They keep telling you not to spit out your food or pull the puppy’s tail. From the perspective of now, that’s easy, but as a toddler it takes an enormous amount of energy and focus to do that.
- Whichever way you develop, they pretty much have you cornered. If you are a studious child, you’re a self-isolating nerd. If you’re a natural at sports, all you want to do is play.
- Then as you begin to grow up, they start encoding you with the self-blame and guilt syndrome. There are hundreds of things you did and didn’t do long before you knew the routine of good behavior. Now it’s not just parents, teachers, and religious figures wagging a huge collective finger at us—we’ve learned to generate our own self-blame and let that run though our heads 24/7.
Getting to the age of 18 with a great self-concept intact is a major accomplishment, usually driven by an incredibly positive network around us and early direction and accomplishment.
Yet that often doesn’t do it either.
Lorne Michaels, the creator of Saturday Night Live, says he always remembers the negative, the bad camera angle or when the jokes flopped. This is after almost 50 years of Michaels’ producing iconic SNL, numerous awards, and creating what people around the world think is funny. Major athletes and celebrities often share their self-doubts and struggles with depression.
And have you noticed?
They write thousands of books to help those who are victims of people and the things that happen to them . . . but they never write a book to help people like me—the habitual victimizer. I have screwed up so many situations in my life and have hurt people quite unintentionally, but at times because it was to my advantage to do so. I have to admit, I’ve had my share of being the victim and doing my share of victimizing.
How to Change Your Mind about Yourself
All our lives we obsess over what other people think about us. It turns out that how we think of ourselves is what fundamentally matters. Sure, if I think I can sing opera, but can’t sing a note, that’s a physical limitation. But most limitations we have are self-imposed, based on the opinions we’ve developed of ourselves from an early age and over a lifetime. Finally, our opinion of ourselves is like an old suit we wear every single day not realizing we have other clothes in the closet
Our own opinion of ourselves determines everything about us, everything we are and that will happen to us in the future. It says what kind of job we have, how successful we are, defines our personality, and determines how happy we are.
How to Change Your Mind About Yourself
How do I wake up tomorrow with a new view of me, going beyond gradual change to stepping out to center stage to become the person that everyone sees has radically changed into a transformational leader, ready to take on a new role as a key leader? How do we change the way we think about ourselves after a lifetime of assaults on our self-concept from parents, peers, professors, and preachers,?
How do I change my mind about myself?
- Change Your Mind about Your Very Nature—You Are a Seed Waiting to Grow into a Mighty Oak. What we were taught from earliest memories isn’t wrong—it’s just out of date and obsolete. In childhood, we learned how to knock on doors before entering, to share, and show respect to those around us in authority. But a great deal we learned in the first part of our lives we must work hard to unlearn during the next part of our lives. We are not frail and inadequate. We are small trees ready to grow into mighty oaks.
- Change Your Location—Say Goodbye to Your Past and Hello to Your Future. As I looked at the mistakes of my past, I saw them as so many and so piled high that they formed a wall that was impossible to scale, to arrive at the future. The wall I built had no gate to enter, nobody to let me into the future. The wall kept me locked in the past.
So I held a Goodbye Event in my mind. I apologized to anyone that was damaged by my behaviors in the past, promised to work hard never to commit the same errors again, and wrote down my values and vowed to live them.
Then I said goodbye to my past and let it be known that I would never visit the land of yesterday. I walked from the land of the past through the gates to the land of the future—and that’s where I live now. I left no forwarding address.
- Change Your Narrative—the Story About Ourselves. It’s not true of all people, but if I’m awake, I’m talking to myself. I’m talking to myself about what I’m going to do today, how it’s going to turn out, can I accomplish what I need to accomplish, whether people will help me, and will the other shoe fall at some unexpected moment. The barrage of thoughts come unbidden like a prairie dog city setting up in my brain.
The way to successfully change your narrative is to gain control of your narrative by systematically telling yourself what you need to hear, not the random narrative that assaults you. One of the most effective ways when it is difficult to control your thinking is to take the time to write down the positive, constructive narrative that will reinforce the person you want to be.
- Change Your Direction—Know Where You’re Headed. When you change your mind about yourself, you’ll want to keep in touch with yourself. Thousands of years ago, The Buddha called it mindfulness—stay connected with your thinking, emotions, and where you’re headed. Life is uncertain, but we know what we can do today to head toward the mountains—to the place where we were meant to arrive.
In order to change your opinion about yourself, you need to pay attention to the opinions of others as an important part of the terrain around you—what others think is truly important. At the same time, your opinion about yourself is the only one that matters in the end. Changing your opinion of yourself to believe in a far greater you is a challenging and exciting journey. There are few of us who can achieve our best if we don’t see ourselves differently. It’s a transformational experience.