“None but ourselves can free our minds.”
— Bob Marley
When I was a freshman in high school, and struggling to find my way, someone anonymously slipped a note into my locker one afternoon. It said, “Don’t let them get inside your head. You’re not boring, nerdy or weird. You’re complex, creative and far too intelligent for their small words. And for the record, you are also infinitely more attractive than you give yourself credit for.”
I never discovered who wrote the note, but whoever they are, they changed my life. From that day forward, I changed the way I talked to myself.
Specifically, I STOPPED saying…
1. “I’m not good enough yet.”
You might think you’re not good enough, but you’ll surprise yourself if you keep trying. Your past does not determine who you are. Your past prepares you for who you are capable of becoming. What ultimately defines you is how well you rise after falling. Don’t ever be afraid to give yourself a chance to be everything you are capable of being. Forget the haters. Never undervalue who you are and what you’re capable of. Excellence is the result of loving more than others think is necessary, dreaming more than others think is practical, risking more than others think is safe, and doing more than others think is possible.
2. “I should be living up to other people’s expectations.”
Remember, it’s always better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want to climb than the top of the one you don’t. Happiness and success is all about spending your life in your own way. Always be yourself and walk your own path. No one can ever tell you you’re doing it wrong. Everyone has their own dreams, their own struggles, and a different path that makes sense for them. You are YOU for a reason.
If you end up living a boring, miserable life because you ignored yourself and instead listened to a parent, a teacher, or some gal on TV telling you how to live your life, then you have no one but yourself to blame. Just remember, the smartest and most courageous act is simply to think for yourself and listen to you own intuition. In the end, it’s better to die your way, than live someone else’s idea of your life. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Self-Love” and “Relationships” chapters of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
3. “What they think and say about me matters.”
What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
Don’t let others crush your dreams. Do just once what they say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their negativity again. Don’t walk away from these negative people… RUN! Good things happen when you distance yourself from negativity and those who create it.
Truth be told, no one has the right to judge you. People may have heard your stories, but they can’t feel what you are going through; they aren’t living YOUR life. So forget what they say about you. Focus on how you feel about yourself, and do what you know in your heart is right.
4. “I need recognition for my actions to be worthwhile.”
Do what you know is right. Integrity is doing the right thing, no matter what, even when nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not. Life always finds its balance. Don’t expect to get back everything you give. Don’t expect recognition for every effort you make. And don’t expect your kindness to be instantly recognized or your love to be understood by everyone you encounter.
What seems like the right thing to do could also be the hardest thing you have ever done. Do it anyway. There is no greatness or peace of mind where there is betrayal of your own goodwill. Always aim at complete sincerity of your thoughts, words and deeds. If it is wrong, don’t do it. If it is untrue, don’t repeat it. Do what you do because you believe it’s the right thing to do. Do the right thing even when nobody is looking. Be one of the people who make a true difference in the world by leaving it a little better and more wholesome than you found it.
5. “It’s too late for me.”
Don’t let yesterday steal your present. Don’t judge yourself by your past… you don’t live there anymore. Let go, grow, and move forward. As we grow older and wiser, we begin to realize what we need and what we need to leave behind. Sometimes walking away is a step forward. Sometimes a break from your routine is exactly what you need. Unless you try to master something beyond what you already know, you will feel forever stuck.
Don’t waste another minute regretting what you did yesterday, and start doing what you have to do now, so tomorrow you won’t regret what you did today. It’s not too late. If you feel like it is, it’s just your inner fears lying to you. But remember, fear doesn’t exist anywhere except in your mind. It’s difficult to follow your heart, but it’s a tragedy to let the lies of fear stop you. (Read Awaken the Giant Within.)
6. “I need to have it all figured out.”
Does the walker choose the path, or the path the walker? Believe it or not, sometimes it’s the latter.
Sometimes the greatest dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew you had. It’s about open-minded exploration. There are no wrong turns in life, only paths you didn’t know you were meant to walk. You never can be certain what’s around the corner. It could be everything, or it could be nothing. You keep putting one foot in front of the other, and then one day you look back and realize you’ve climbed to the peak of the most beautiful mountaintop.
7. “I do not have enough to be positive and grateful.”
Some days you’ll find diamonds and some days all you’ll see is coal. However, every day is a golden opportunity to learn, practice gratitude, and positively impact the world around you. Do not ask for instant fulfillment in your life, but for patience to accept your current frustrations. Do not ask for perfection in all you do, but for the wisdom to not repeat past mistakes. Do not ask for more before saying, “THANK YOU” for everything you have already received.
And remember, everything in life is temporary. So if things are good, enjoy it. It won’t last forever. If things are bad, don’t worry because it won’t last forever either. Just because life isn’t stress-free right now, doesn’t mean you can’t laugh. Just because something is bothering you, doesn’t mean you can’t smile. The trick is to be grateful when your mood is high and graceful when it is low.
8. “My life should be easier and free of discomfort.”
Great challenges make life interesting; overcoming them makes life meaningful. It’s how you deal with failure and discomfort that determines your level of success and happiness. Laugh at your mistakes and learn from them. Joke about your troubles and gather strength from them. Have fun with the challenges you face and then conquer them.
Emotional discomfort in life, when accepted, rises, crests and crashes in a series of waves. Each wave washes an old layer of you away and deposits treasures you never expected to find. Out goes inexperience, in comes awareness; out goes frustration, in comes resilience; out goes hatred, in comes kindness. No one would say these waves of emotional experience are easy to ride, but the rhythm of emotional discomfort that you learn to tolerate while doing so is natural, helpful and prevalent. The discomfort eventually leaves you stronger and healthier than it found you. (Read Man’s Search for Meaning.)
9. “I can’t forgive them.”
Forgiveness is a promise. When you forgive someone you are making a promise not to hold the unchangeable past against your present self. Forgiveness doesn’t mean what happened was completely excusable, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that person should still be welcome in your life. It simply means you have made peace with the pain, and are ready to let it go and move on with your life.
Forgiveness has nothing to do with freeing a criminal of his or her crime. It has everything to do with freeing yourself of the burden of being a victim – letting go of the pain and transforming yourself from victim to victor.
10. “I am alone.”
You can’t make it through on your own. None of us can. That’s why, thank goodness, you are never as alone as you sometimes feel. So many of us are fighting the same exact battle alongside you. You may feel alone sometimes, but you are not alone in being alone.
To lose sleep worrying about a loved one. To have trouble picking yourself up after someone lets you down. To feel rejected because someone didn’t care about you enough to stay. To be afraid to try something new for fear you may fail. None of this means you’re weird or dysfunctional. It just means you’re human, and that you need a little time to regroup and re-calibrate yourself.
No matter how embarrassed or pathetic you feel about your own situation, there are others out there experiencing the same emotions. When you hear yourself say, “I am all alone,” it’s just your mind trying to sell you a lie. There’s always someone who can relate to you. Perhaps you can’t immediately talk to them, but they are out there, and that’s all you need to know right now.
If I eavesdropped on your self-talk, would I hear statements that empower happiness, or statements that refute it? The next time you decide to unclutter your life and clean up your space, start with your intellectual space by clearing out the old lies and negative self-talk you often recite to yourself.
The floor is yours…
What would you add to the list? What kind of negative self-talk do you need to stop? What will you never say about yourself again? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below.
Photo by: Gianmaria Zanotti