Is your bedtime story causing you nightmares which doom your waking life?
Self help books have said it before: What you tell yourself is what you become. Yet we don’t believe it, or take those words of advice on board in our heads. We’re too busy with life, life interrupts our positive self-talk habits, if that’s what we try to do. You turn on the TV and it’s doom and gloom, no positive mental attitude there. It’s hard to stay in a good mental place for more than a few minutes. I don’t know about you, but I find keeping your chin up in a negatively biased world is no easy feat?
Ever since the interview I did with Jack Canfield for Esquire magazine in 2012 my life changed from him telling me his number one Success Principle (From his book: The Success Principles) to take 100% responsibility for your life. Although we all know what that means, we don’t contextualise a piece of wisdom like that until it becomes relevant to the situation we find ourselves caught up in. For me it was when I was stuck in a job that didn’t pay well but I loved, I was 4,510 miles from home (Living in Dubai), and I was unhappy. But I was doing this job because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do – grow up, get a job, lose the will to live working my way up the corporate ladder – according to the rule book of Mum and Dad.
It was the story (dogmatic playbook) I grew up on that was predicating my life. It’s probably true for most people, maybe even you; that you’re following the system set out by those before you? The system of: go to school, go to college, go to university, get a job, get a mortgage, buy a house, get in debt trying to live the life you want…? The conveyor belt of life rolls on, and then the TV commercial saying you should put some money aside for your funeral, so your loved ones don’t get left with a huge bill – that’s nice.
The story I was living by in my head was making me unhappy, it actually made me ill the first magazine job I had because the stress it caused me resulted in a liver abscess that I had to go to hospital to have drained – no joke. But I was just being a good boy and doing what I thought was right and trying to work my way up the ladder in journalism – to get approval from the world.
It set me up for an interesting future though. At the time I did not know which way life was about to go, having no plans after leaving my job in journalism as a group sub editor. I soon got into psychology and counselling, which, when growing up I wanted to study sociology, was like my path coming back on itself. And now I combine my love of writing, with my interest in psychology and wellbeing. If I'd stayed living by the dogmatic playbook, I may still be in a rut in a desert.
What story are you living by, and is it propelling you up in life or dragging you down? Is the story in your head holding you back from being the person you feel you ought to be, but because you listen to society or those around you, you are trying to conform to a dictatorship?
Growing up we knew no better, and as adults we know better but still listen to the old thought patterns we grew up on. Some children got told, “If you don’t get good grades in school you won’t amount to anything when you grow up.” That was repeated and subconsciously became the story you tell yourself, and you never stopped telling yourself that, so it is now an unhelpful saying from the voice in your head. Say, you did not do well in school, and as a result now feel useless?
What is the solution to our self-sabotaging stories from yesteryear; which no longer serve us? Self development experts talk about affirmations – which to me at first seemed ridiculous, this notion that you affirm to yourself: “I am rich, I am rich and fulfilled in all areas of my life”. The idea behind this is you repeat it enough to yourself that you believe it, and it becomes a new thought pattern in your head, replacing the old negative one that no longer serves you. My trouble with affirmations was that when I was depressed as heck, and ready to meet my maker, was repeating, “I am happy”, ten times for 30 days – self help books tell you it takes 30 days to create a new habit – really going to help my circumstances of being depressed?
Now that I'm on the other side of depression I can see, and now understand affirmations better. Although they are not the panacea to all our woes. That being the case, affirmations can help us replace the voice of negative self-talk we've become accustomed to living with, not realising that it is that nagging voice which is holding us back. Our childhood stories of: “You’re not good enough unless you get good grades.” Now have become our adulthood “Buts”. “I would love to do that, but I didn’t do well enough growing up and I could never do that now.” The things we tell our selves in are heads are the real roadblocks in our lives.
Pave over those roadblock buts of an excuse with an affirmation. I’ve discovered that although repeatedly telling myself something, it doesn’t achieve instant results. What affirmations do do is get you over the but, so you can do what you need to do to get the outcome you desire. “I want to lose weight, ‘but Mum said everyone in our family is big boned, so I'm naturally fat.’” You can affirm, “I am strong-willed enough to achieve everything I want, regardless of what other people say.” That's more empowering than, “But I can’t do that.”
What new stories can you tell yourself so you can seize the day, instead of throwing your Power away to an out-dated modus vivendi?
If this article has been helpful to you I’d love to hear your feedback. If you would like further help with affirmations or personal development, contact me to arrange a no-fee coaching call. Email: James@liveyourgreatness.life to book your call.