Salvation ... comes from the Lord ... because they take refuge in him. (Psalm 37:39-40)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Self-Talking to Success

            Many joke about talking to ourselves. Some say it's okay to talk to yourself as long as you don't get caught talking back. May I suggest that you may need to have a conversation with yourself in order to get to the truth of a matter.  You will understand what I mean as you engage this blog post conversation.
            Thoughts produce actions, actions produce habits, and habits produce lifestyle.  Your life is guided by your core-belief system. Your beliefs determine your behavior. In any one moment of time, your mind can only contain one thought. Your brain cannot produce positive and negative thoughts simultaneously.  Either positive or  negative results are produced. Positive thoughts produce more positive thoughts and positive actions. Negative thoughts produce more negative thoughts and negative actions. Only YOU can allow or disallow the pattern to flow in a virtuous and uplifting direction.
            What you believe about yourself is the most important factor of all in determining your responses to life. What you believe about yourself will create either constructive or destructive results. What you really believe about yourself may surprise you.  According to the author mentioned below, about ninety-nine percent of what you believe about yourself is hidden to yourself. You have to be willing to talk to yourself to find out what you believe about yourself.
            I recently discovered an allegory portraying the battle every human being must engage to overcome inevitable obstacles to reach an oasis of success. 
The jacket of the book,  The Ant and the Elephant: Leadership for the Self  by Vince Poscente reads as follows:
            "In the Ant and the Elephant, renown business strategist and Olympian, Vince Poscente, weaves a clever parable around profound concepts that can have an immediate impact on your life and the life of your organization.
            With his trademark wit and wisdom, Poscente shows us how to focus on and redirect the subconscious mind in order to accomplish the goals we consciously strive to achieve. This empowering story illustrates that understanding the dynamic relationship between conscious and subconscious thought is the first step towards becoming a leader who can transform individual performance. But harnessing the power of the subconscious is an experience commonly fraught with frustration. Even the most competent among us battles the subconscious fears, habits, and attitudes that obstruct authentic leadership. In fact, adjusting our own patterns of behavior as a means to motivate others is not unlike an ant trying to convince an elephant to change its ways. ....
            This simple story is a powerful metaphor designed to bring out your best performance as a leader, so that you can do the same for those around you."
            Because human nature resists change (even good change), our psyche becomes a battleground of familiar vs. unfamiliar, comfortable vs. uncomfortable, old vs. new, even sometimes evil vs. good. Poscente also writes, "without conflict there is not growth, and the most challenging conflict is within ourselves" (p53). It becomes important to talk to ourselves and not merely listen to ourselves. Telling ourselves the truth, creates the atmosphere to defeat the temptation to believe lies about ourselves.  
            Leading sales strategist Blair Singer writes in an article called It's All in Your Head  in the February 2011 issue of Success magazine, "What many people don't understand is that the toughest sell of all is selling yourself to yourself. It's overcoming that "little voice" in your head that says, I'm not that kind of person. What if they don't like me? What if I look stupid? I'm too old, too young or too dumb. That little voice is Public Enemy No. 1 to your income and personal growth." 
            Singer continues, "Another sneaky trick your little voice plays on you has to do with your self-concept. No matter how responsible, diligent or hard working you are, if your self-concept is low, your results will never exceed it. If your little voice beats the daylights out of you and tells you that you are stupid, incapable or a poor salesperson, your self-concept will be low, and your results will follow suit.
            So how do you manage that little voice? Here are a couple strategies: 
            Start with affirmations like, "I'm an awesome salesperson, and I know I can do this." Repeat this every time doubt seeps in. Your little voice is simply a result of your prior programming, and you can re-program it quickly. ...
               Another great way to overcome the little voice in the face of fear is to recall a time in your life when you had a big win. I learned this technique from Tony Robbins, and I use it constantly. Recall where you were, what you saw, how it felt and what you were saying to yourself at the time. When you can recall it, make a fist and shout, "Yes!" Your energy will come up, and you will walk into your call with the memory and feeling of success instead of fear.
            The bottom line is there is a much bigger person inside of you than you give yourself credit for. When you learn to master your little voice, the big, bold, powerful, rich you will emerge. It is your destiny. Now, be awesome!"
            Those of you who have a strong faith in God may be asking, "Where does God fit in all this?" "Aren't you giving too much credit to human willpower and self-achievement?" I believe self-talk is important, even if it means bringing God into the conversation. Even if you have invited God to demonstrate his power in your life, you have to continue to choose to yield to that power. A decision to follow your desire for self-improvement and inspiration does not presuppose an act of self-aggrandizement. In fact Jesus himself summed up God's commandments this way, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself" (Matt 22:37-39). In order to genuinely love your neighbor, you have to truly love yourself. That means being comfortable with the unique traits, abilities, and dis-abilities you were meant to personify. Your identity and purpose in life hinges on what you value and perceive as meaningful. Loving others is a choice, impossible to make if you haven't first chosen to love yourself as God made you and loves you.
            I would like to draw on the wisdom of one of my all time favorite thinkers named Viktor Frankl, MD.  In his best selling book Man's Search for Meaning he writes,
"Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.."  The Austrian psychiatrist Frankl won the battle in his mind to find life's meaning. Frankl did not  allow his imprisonment in four Nazi concentration labor camps to demean his existence. He survived  because of his desire for meaning. His logotherapy teaches us to inquire of life for meaning rather than to inquire of meaning for life.
            Frankl also says, "Don't aim at success — the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one's dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it." Frankl is trying to help us see that life is so much more than fortunes, fame, pleasure, and power. It is about giving your existence away to people and causes bigger than any one life (ie. you) can ever be. Meaning is an attitude. Finding meaning is believing in yourself enough to know you're here for a purpose, and you are committed to your responsibility to find the fullness of that purpose.
            A book that expounds Frankl's themes for the workplace is called Prisoners of Our Thoughts by Alex Pattakos, PhD.  Employee enrichment consultant Pattakos applies these principles to finding meaning in one's work and occupation. Our mindset, and specifically what we believe about ourselves, determines our performance and level of fulfillment.
            Self-concept is at the root of many mental and emotional health problems. Stress, anxiety, discouragement, depression, addictions, etc. are often unwittingly attached to lack of self-worth and self-rejection of some type. Chapter One of my book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses how the inner person becomes imprisoned by perception and interpretation of life's offenses.
            Call it a prison, little inner voice, an elephant,, or call it whatever you wish.  Personal growth experts all agree that believing in yourself is the single most important factor in changing a negative direction into a positive one. Your self-concept is in charge of your life, and only you can be in charge of your self-concept.
            I said earlier that you have to be willing to talk to yourself to find out what you believe about yourself. May I also suggest that you have to be willing to take action in a different direction when your conversation reveals misbeliefs about yourself that are at the root of limiting, destructive patterns of behavior. Waiting for other people or circumstances to change before making your decision to turn directions will halt your personal growth. Mahatma Gandhi exhorted, "Be the change you want to see in the world."

            Does your self-talk produce belief (faith), or create unbelief (doubt and fear)? What can you do to increase your faith, and reduce your fear? What step are you willing to take right now? Go for it!

            Note:   The book Escaping the Pain of Offense: Empowered to Forgive from the Heart discusses themes of dealing with offense and finding freedom in forgiveness.  This book is designed to help people (especially in the Christian faith)  to discover and dislodge things in life that lead to defeat. Don't miss out on your chance to use this book as a helpful tool in discovering Refuge in Christ. It can be purchased by clicking here:

by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry