What do you see when you look in the mirror?
If you had a friend that spoke to you the same way you speak about yourself, how long would you allow them to remain your friend?
You can’t do that…You’re so out of shape…You’re not that smart….Who do you think you are? Your hair is messed up! …. You dress like a slob….You’ll never get a date.
We have all said these sort of statements or much worse to ourselves before and worse than actually telling ourselves these things…..we say them everyday. We tell ourselves things that, if anyone else were to say them to us we might just want to punch them in the face. If a friend were to say these same things to us, and say them over and over again, would we be friends with them very long? We are our own worst enemy…we have all heard that before and the saddest thing is how very true it is.To add to that horrible truth, you could say that we are our own worse “silent” enemy because we break ourselves down everyday and don’t even realize we are doing it.
This is just how I was born. I will always be this way. This is just who I am and I can’t change that. I can’t help it; it’s just how I was raised. Have you ever said these things? I bet you have and probably like most people believe them to be absolutely true and if nobody else like it then so what…you are who you are, like it or not. How did I hit that nail? On the head?
Let’s play pretend here for a moment. What if you were a caterpillar? Every day you told yourself these same things. You are who you are and you are completely happy with your life just the way you are. What would be wrong with that? What would be wrong with the caterpillar that chose not become a butterfly? Yep, you got it. It would become food for some predator or dry up and die never realizing its full potential and beauty as one of God’s creatures. Like the caterpillar we were designed to grow with every passing day, to go through a process of change.
We are designed for greater and greater change throughout our lives. To ultimately reach a greater potential and become something we never imagined.
To stay how we are and not grow, change, achieve, learn and not reach for our ultimate potential would mean that we would never become anything more than a caterpillar when we were designed to be a butterfly.
Not to say that it’s always a bad thing, but to say; “this is just how I was born. I will always be this way”, “this is just who I am and I can’t change that”, or “I can’t help it, it’s just how I was raised” is just another way of saying that you are afraid that any change might not be good, never imagining that it might actually be great.
We do come by this mentality honestly though. Most of us were programmed to accept failure and not success as children. I know speaking for myself I had far more lessons on how to act when I lost than I did on how to act when I won. Back then it was called having ” good sportsmanship”. I had far more coach’s speak about how to loose with honor and dignity than I did about how to act as a winner whether we won or lost. Whenever I won or succeeded or achieved anything there was always a celebration that followed. And there should be a celebration of that, but it wasn’t till I was an adult that I realized that I was programmed to accept failure as a norm and to celebrate success because it wasn’t normal.
When I was about to embark on a new challenge I would always say “ Here I go, I am going to do my very best, I’m going to work very hard and hope for the best but if I fail I know I can hold my head up because I did my best” Well, maybe not in those words but it wasn’t ever “Here I go, I am going to do my very best, I’m going to work hard and when I succeed I’ll know it’s because I did my best ”. WHY?, because I really had no clue. I hadn’t ever been taught this stuff. Being accepting of failure was a comfortable part of my self-image whereas accepting success was foreign. That image we have of ourselves is the single greatest factor limiting or enhancing our growth, our success, and our ability to unleash our greatest potential. Ultimately our self image determines our success and happiness in life. So what is success? Ask a thousand people and you will surely get a thousand answers but my definition of success is this:
The happiness found while enjoying a continuous journey towards specific goals determined to be valuable in life.
Even though our self Image determines that successful feeling and is a mirror reflection of who we think we are, it is not usually what others think we are. You see, for most people our self image is not actually what we are but simply what we think we are; and therein lays the problem.
Let’s use the ant as an example. An ant community is made up of ants with different and very distinct jobs. One job some ants have is to explore for food. They will go everywhere looking for it. With the ability to climb on and over anything makes the places they can go limitless.
So, If you were to place a piece of food into a glass container near an ant mound, soon enough the glass will be filled with ants working to retrieve the food. Ants will be climbing up and down the sides of the glass container like its nothing at all. Now, if you were to place a piece of cardboard on top of the glass container preventing the ants from entering or exiting any longer, in about 15 minutes you will see something amazing.
There will no longer be any ants on the outside trying to get in. Even more amazing is that when you remove the cardboard from the top of the container, the ants inside will not attempt to exit either. Why? Because they have experienced a time when they were no longer able to do something so they now believe they can’t and no longer believe they can even though they are perfectly able. But what about the ants on the outside? They also experienced the same thing and went and told all the other ants so they too now believe the same thing. That they can’t get in so why try. Many of the ants will actually die in that container, after the food is gone, never taking a chance to see if they could get out ever again.
They had learned a self image that said they couldn’t so they didn’t even try. Many of us are like the ants that were never even at the jar. We have been told from childhood, convinced by those around us and even told ourselves that we are what we are and that’s never going to change so we don’t even try. Unless we reach out to try to break through the boundaries of our own self image we have in our head We will either die in our jar, never even attempt to climb it or die believing what everyone has taught us to believe.
Have you ever felt guilty for not trying something you thought you could have done but just couldn’t motivate or convince yourself to try? Have you ever done something you never thought you could do but did it because someone else told you that you couldn’t?
Your self image is the maximum limitation you have for achievement.
It is NEVER about what others think is possible for you. It is ALWAYS exclusively what you think is possible. What if someone told you to “Be OK with (you fill in the blank here) the way it is. There is better but this is the best you can do so leave it alone, why try to change it.” How would that make you feel? Now think about it, how many times have you said “I’m OK with (you fill in the blank here) the way it is” while also thinking ” It’s probably the best I can do anyway”…. then add reasons (excuses) of why this is true. We truly are our own worst enemies of self limitation.
When you look in the mirror what do you see? Are you critical of yourself, about your weight or appearance? Do you see things you don’t like and want to change? What are the words you are using to tell yourself these things? When you are getting ready for work how are you feeling about your job? Do you wish you had a different or better, possibly more meaningful job? What do you say to yourself about why you don’t or worse; why you can’t get the job you really want? These are just examples of things our subconscious thinks about when looking at ourselves. Sometimes the answers to questions like these are all too real in our conscious mind and that greatly affects our self image.
See, here is the part where you need to be perfectly honest with yourself. Not with anyone else but honest with yourself. You may never speak the real answers out loud but, to yourself, in your head, what are you really saying? How would you feel if someone else told you the same things in the same way you say them to yourself?
So what do I do to make a change?
1. First off you need to recognize that the words and thoughts you use ( spoken and in your head) about yourself dictate how you see yourself and your potential. Are you the ant in the jar holding yourself back or are you believing that you have unlimited potential to do and achieve anything you want in life, having a ” just because I couldn’t before doesnt mean I cant now” attitude. You will become whatever you think about the most. Want to become an astronaut and that’s all you can think about? Guess what? You will begin to seek out educational paths, information, seminars, books and whatever you can find to help you become an astronaut; and unless it’s a physical impossibility ( let’s face it at 46 and not an athlete my chances of being a pro baseball player are kind of slim) , chances are one day you will be and astronaut. It doesn’t matter what it is; just know that your thoughts and words about your ability to achieve is greater than what anyone else around you says.
2. Stop comparing your life and achievements with those of others. By comparing yourself to others you begin to either feel superior to someone else that isn’t as successful as you feel you are and doesn’t have what you have or to the other extreme; you will feel jealousy and failure compared to someone who has what you think you want. Either way, these are destructive self images. Be proud of where you are and what you have accomplished. You’re not in a race with others, you should be celebrating the success you are today and will celebrate the same tomorrow as you continue to achieve bigger and greater things.
3. Stop trying to keep up with the Jones’. You have been uniquely qualified with certain skills, abilities and talents to achieve YOUR potential not the potential of someone else. Your situation is different and may progress at a different level than theirs. Trying to have what they have is like you trying to live their life because you don’t feel your life is good enough. That’s nothing more than having a self image that says you are not good enough unless you’re like them. Create your OWN self image. Be YOU!
4. Most of all, stop reliving past failures. They are not your future. Live to succeed today, everyday. If your past failures are any indication of what a future will be we would still be in the Stone Age. Everything you are enjoying today was a result of many many failures before something successful was achieved. Past failures serve as lessons to know how to do things better the next time. But trying relive past failures is a bit like starting a fire with last night’s ashes. Yesterday is gone! Learn from it and move on! Focusing on today is a hard enough task without polluting it and wasting your time bringing the past back into the picture. If you want to find tomorrow a better place then you need to start by maximizing today.
If your image of your self is that of a winner, a success, and an achiever then you will be those things. But if it’s anything less than that you will become whatever that is.
How long would you really want to remain friends with someone that thought anything less of you?
You are worthy of your success, others may have helped along the way but your success is YOURS, you worked for it and your deserve it. You are worthy of a great and positive self- image.
Look for further discussions about your happiness and success in upcoming posts. Stay Tuned…Better yet sign up to follow by email!
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