We are confined only by the boundaries we impose upon ourselves. And though we are influenced by the words and actions of others, it comes down to some very simple and basic facts: in the end, we decide what our Truth is. We can decide to be lazy and complacent and allow others to think for us, tell us how to believe and act, or we can hunker down and do the work ourselves, discover what we truly believe.
For over a decade, I taught workshops to those who wanted to become better writers. One of the key elements of these intensive workshops focuses on what I like to call “the gremlins” in our heads. This phrase defines the inner voice that psychologically healthy persons utilize when making decisions, thinking, or merely going about our daily lives. For many, that inner voice can be negative, counterproductive and damaging, preventing us from enjoying a fulfilled and successful life. I attempt to instill in each of the participants in the workshops the idea that we are not victims of that inner voice, but rather we are that inner voice. It is us, talking to ourselves. Why use that resource to tear ourselves down or derail our good intentions? Perhaps some of that tendency comes from those who raised and taught us, because they also allowed that inner voice to be destructive rather than constructive.
What we tell ourselves and allow ourselves to believe are crucial and important to our happiness and well being.
If we assume that the things we say to ourselves impact us in tremendous ways, why would we choose to waste them on negative self-talk? Often, it’s because we don’t realize that’s what we’re doing. That negative inner voice has become such a natural part of who we believe we are, we allow it to distract and detract from our efforts to grow.
It’s time to change what that voice tells us, and what we allow ourselves to believe. Here are 12 TRUTHS TO START TELLING YOURSELF. To reinforce the message, print these out and post them in several places around your home, the workplace, or anywhere you spend a lot of time. Change does not happen without focus and hard work. When you’re ready, you will succeed.
1. KNOWLEDGE WITHOUT ACTION ACCOMPLISHES NOTHING. When we take the time to learn something new or different from what we currently know or believe, we must act on it. We must continue to act on it until it becomes second nature. Reading a book teaches us nothing if we do not implement what we’ve read.
There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction. – John Fitzgerald Kennedy
2. MY ACTIONS AND WORDS DIRECTLY AFFECT THE WORLD AROUND ME. We can preach our beliefs all we want, but our words mean nothing if our actions do not show that we believe in what we say. If we say we despise hate speech yet use words that contradict that, we cancel our own efforts out. A lot of the offense taken by others in our current society comes from cheap words wherein we say things that we cannot back up by our actions. Use words wisely and be ready to back them up with action in the direction of your intent. Don’t over commit and then break a promise to another. When we exercise integrity in our speech and our actions, we live in our Truth. Broken promises destroy relationships. Just because others lack integrity is no reason to fall prey to that same way of thinking or acting.
Words are only painted fire; a look is the fire itself. -Mark Twain
3. I CAN ONLY BE MYSELF AT ALL TIMES. When we strive to be someone or something other than what our true nature indicates, we aren’t living as ourselves, but trying to force nature into a different shape. When we accept ourselves for who and what we truly are, we are living in a loving way with our biology, nature, ecology, and indeed, the universe that created us.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? – Maryanne Williamson
4. EVERYTHING IS NEUTRAL. When we realize that we are the beings who label situations, people, acts, and feelings as “good” or “bad,” we understand that we truly control how we feel or react. We must decide when to act or react based on our beliefs and Truths. A storm is not “bad” simply because it has destroyed a town or taken lives. It is merely nature doing what nature does, which can often be violent and destructive. We adopt non-neutral feelings in order to help make such situations seem more hopeful. We offer condolence or assistance to aid others in surviving. When we begin labeling otherwise neutral circumstances “bad” or “good” we are merely placing our views and opinions on them, usually to help make us feel better. Doing so is not wrong, nor is it right. It’s what our nature has instructed us to do. When we act in accordance with our nature, we align ourselves with inner growth. This is one of the trickier Truths, as it seems to go against everything we have been taught to believe. However, when we begin our thinking from a platform of neutrality, we are better able to make wiser choices and decisions on how to act in our Truth. That isn’t to say we should remain neutral in our thinking, but to be cognizant of the fact that any value placed is done so by our own choice, and therefore, our actions are likewise based on those choices. Whatever value we place on things – good or bad – we can take the lesson of it as a map point on our path to personal growth.
Silence in the face of atrocity is not neutrality; silence in the face of atrocity is acquiescence. – Samantha Power
5. MY LIFE AND MY DREAMS ARE WORTH IT. With the rash of recent teen suicides due to claims and allegations of bullying on the part of others, we might come to see that every life and the dreams they embody have value, whether we see or acknowledge that value or not. When we stop allowing others to tell us what our life and our dreams are worth and start placing value on them ourselves, we gain meaning in life and find that we are no longer without direction or destination. When we re-empower ourselves with positive self-talk, we disallow others to take control of how we feel, what we think, and what we believe.
Without dreams, there can be no courage. And without courage, there can be no action. – Wim Wenders
6. FRIENDS ARE NOT MEASURED IN QUANTITY, BUT QUALITY. In this era of social networking, we can easily become disillusioned by the quantity of friends we perceive that we do or do not have. We strive for as many Facebook friends or Twitter followers as we can, and come to believe they are true friends. This is a false perception. We must remain strong in our beliefs in what a real friend is defined as. It’s not a number on a screen, but rather a person who will show up at your doorstep when they think you might be in danger or in trouble; they’re the people we call when we have great news, or when we’re saddened at other news; they’re the people we count on, want to enjoy life with, hang out with – whether you’re speaking or simply listening to the color of the sky – or choose to be around throughout our lives.
A friend is one who knows you and loves you just the same. – Elbert Hubbard
7. HATERS = MOTIVATORS. There will always be small people who seem to survive by tearing others down. Their words and actions are based entirely on fear and rarely have anything to do with you personally. A friend of mine used to say, “I am a mirror. Look at me and see yourself.” Simple in its expression, it has become one of my mantras when faced with those who will say hateful and hurtful things only to make themselves feel better for the moment. This is also a useful saying when we’re feeling the urge to lash out at others. Am I really saying something hurtful to them, or reflecting my own fears? 100% of the time, I’m reflecting my own fears and projecting them onto others. In this way, I am motivated to say positive things instead of negative.
Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too. – Will Smith
8. FORGIVE, BUT DO NOT FORGET. It is often difficult to forgive those we feel have wronged us in some way. The age-old saying “forgive and forget” might have once held some truth in it, but we know so much more now. When we forgive, we let go of hateful and hurting feelings; feelings which threaten to push us off our paths. However, when we forget, we lose the lesson inherent in the action of forgiving. Why do we need to forgive? Hold on to that lesson, for it will surely come up again, and then you will be better prepared to act differently so that forgiveness is not required.
Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave. – Indira Gandhi
9. EVERYONE DESERVES KINDNESS AND RESPECT. This is one of the toughest, for we all know someone who seems hell bent on being just plain mean. However, when we show kindness and respect to others, we are also paying homage to the fact that we deserve kindness and respect. Remember in #7 when you read, “I am a mirror. Look at me and see yourself.”? We can reflect back the treatment we want to receive from others by showing them the same. Often, we must teach others how to treat us. If we act in disrespectful and unkind ways, we are, in effect, asking others to treat us in the same way. Be the mirror. This does not mean, however, that we must tolerate those who display disrespect or unkindness toward us, for we also respect ourselves enough to know that that’s not how we choose to be treated. When faced with such treatment, we have our own choices to make: overwhelm with kindness, or walk away. When we allow it, we are, in effect, saying that it’s okay to treat us in that way. When we always do our best, we always feel fulfilled and strong and cannot be deterred by others who might strive to knock us off our path.
Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see. – Mark Twain
10. HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE. This is related to #3, in that when we begin from a place of inner neutrality, we can then choose the value we place on our feelings. We choose to be happy or not happy; we choose to be kind or unkind; we choose to show integrity or lack of integrity; we choose our path at every step of the journey. This is where the theory of free will comes from, our innate ability to choose for ourselves. And though our choices are directly or indirectly influenced by our histories, our families, our friends, our careers, we have the ability to make choices. Sometimes we perceive our choices to be limited, other times limitless. We make our choices based on millions, billions of factors…some of them obvious, some of them not. We still make them, regardless of the influences. Choose to be happy. That is your pursuit.
He who depends on himself will attain the greatest happiness. – Chinese Proverb.
11. WHEN I INVEST IN MYSELF, I AM EMPOWERED. Invest time and energy in yourself every day. When you invest in yourself, you can never lose, and over time you will change the trajectory of your life. You are simply the product of what you know. The more time and energy you spend acquiring pertinent knowledge, the more control you have over your life.
Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. – Harold Thurman Whitman
12. NOTHING COMES WITHOUT HARD WORK. In spite of society’s claims otherwise, nothing that provides meaning, fulfillment, or satisfaction comes without doing the work. There has never been a person – musician, artist, writer, athlete – who has not invested the time, energy and hard work into their own success. Nothing is handed to us, no matter what you read or what you hear to the contrary. Simply stated: we must do the work. There are no shortcuts. There is no free ride. We work, and we reap. We must not shy away from the labor, for the process helps create who and what we become. In spite of the “fast food” thinking we are taught throughout our lives, we must understand that it is not in our best interest to allow others’ to dictate the level of investment in ourselves. Be true to our inner desire to succeed, to become better people. Do the work. It’s worth it. You’re worth it.
To be a warrior is not a simple matter of wishing to be one. It is rather an endless struggle that will go on to the very last moment of our lives. Nobody is born a warrior, in exactly the same way that nobody is born an average man. We make ourselves into one or the other. — Carlos Castaneda