One of my heroes, Norman Vincent Peale wrote:
“To overcome your obstacles and live the “I Don’t Believe in Defeat” philosophy, cultivate a positive-idea pattern deeply in your consciousness. What we do with obstacles is directly determined by our mental attitude. Most of our obstacles, as a matter of fact, are mental in character.”
“Ah,” you may object, “mine are not mental, mine are real.”
Perhaps so, but your attitude toward them is mental. The only possible way you can have an attitude is by the mental process, and what you think about your obstacles largely determines what you do about them. Form the mental attitude that you cannot remove an obstacle and you will not remove it, not if you think you can’t. But get the idea firmly fixed that the obstacle is not so great as you previously considered it to be. Hold the idea that it is removable, and however faintly you entertain this positive thought, from the very moment you begin to think in this manner, the process is inaugurated which will lead to its ultimate removal.
If you have been long defeated by a difficulty, it is probably because you have told yourself for weeks, months and even for years that there is nothing you can do about it. You have so emphasized your inability to yourself that your mind gradually accepted the conclusion upon which you have insisted, and when your mind is convinced, you are convinced, for as you think so are you.
But, on the contrary, when you develop a new mental slant, emphasizing and reemphasizing a positive attitude, you will convince your own consciousness that you can do something about difficulties. When at last your mind becomes convinced, astonishing results will begin to happen. Of a sudden you discover that you have the power you would never before acknowledge. (The Power of Positive Thinking, 1952)
Taking action and applying these empowering principles requires a certain confidence on our part . . . confidence in our ability to generate change in our lives.
To build confidence, the practice of suggesting Confidence Concepts to your mind is highly effective. If your mind is filled with thoughts of insecurity and inadequacy, it is because such ideas have dominated your thinking over a long period of time. The solution? A more positive pattern of ideas must be given to the mind, and that’s accomplished by repetitive suggestion of confidence ideas. Thought disciplining is required if you are to re-educate the mind and make it into a positive-power-producing plant. It is possible, even in the midst of your daily work, to drive Confidence Concepts into consciousness.
The conclusion of a study by Myers and Diener (1995): “Across all ages and all groups, a solid belief in one’s own abilities increases life satisfaction by about 30%, and makes us happier both in our home lives and in our work lives.”
CONFIDENCE CONCEPT CARDS
Let me tell you about a previously struggling and now highly-successful salesman who made this idea work for him. This man put 3×5-inch cards everywhere he could easily see them: on his bathroom mirror, on his desk at work, in his car (on the visor), and in his planner. On these cards were Confidence Concepts that affirmed his goodness. Some samples:
- “I am a great salesman!”
- “I radiate confidence and kindness to everyone.”
- “I am a patient, loving husband and father.”
- “I am organized and efficient at work and at home.”
- “Nothing is impossible, because I am a successful leader in every area of my life.”
Do you see how this type of positive input, read regularly and believed sincerely, can have a powerful impact on your level of confidence? The lesson is to look at life through lenses dipped in optimism and to remember that “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
Do not forget that if we constantly think of the forces that seem to be against us, we form them into an unrealistic power, and they become stronger. But if, on the contrary, we mentally visualize and affirm our assets, contemplating our strengths and abilities, we can rise out of any difficulty.
Know this: your level of confidence depends upon the thoughts that habitually occupy your mind. Think defeat and you are defeated. Think confidently and you will develop such a strong sense of capacity that, regardless of the obstacles that arise, you’ll overcome them.
Before we move on, take a moment and ask yourself two questions: “What do I want people to see when they look at me?” and, “Is what people now see a reflection of what I want to be?”
REMINDER: YOU’RE IN CONTROL
What do you see in your “self mirror?” What you think of yourself determines your success boundaries and sets your limits. By improving your self-image, you expand your boundaries and extend your limits.
Where is your “self picture” and who creates it? It’s in your mind, and you do.
Your brain is a marvelous mechanism that works for your success or for your failure. Since you’re the operator, the outcome depends on your skills. Are you in control? Do you direct and carefully maneuver your thoughts so that you focus on your goals – steering straight toward them as you power along life’s highway? Or are you out of control, frequently allowing negative and destructive thoughts to take the wheel? Know, without a doubt, that you can daily drive your thoughts, words and actions in the direction of high achievement. And with the right tools and consistent effort, you can steer yourself toward previously unimagined joy and unattainable success.
On a day-to-day basis, having confidence in your ability to control your thoughts can make a huge difference in your life. An example of this is Paul, age 68, from Orem, Utah, who suffered a debilitating back injury. He said, “I worked on tolerating high levels of pain and felt confident I could overcome anything!”
GIVE YOURSELF HEALTHY SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECIES!
Self-fulfilling prophecies are statements that help you become what you want to be. They are incredibly powerful in their effectiveness relative to self-esteem. You can either damage your feelings of self-worth or build yourself up, depending on how you use self-fulfilling prophecies. The sooner we begin building ourselves up, the faster we’ll progress.
Examples of healthy self-fulfilling prophecies:
- “It’s just like me to be on time! I’m usually prompt and ready.”
- “I like to meet new people, and I’m good at helping them feel comfortable around me.”
- “Even if she’s rude to me I’ll still be kind to her; because I don’t let other people determine how I react.”
- “I like the way this is turning out. Good thinking!”
- “It’s not like me to make mistakes like that. I’ll do it better next time.”
This principle is illustrated perfectly by the story of a young boy and his father. The father promised his son that if he would practice all day, he’d play baseball with him after work. When Dad arrived home he accompanied the boy to the backyard.
“Show me what you can do,” the father said. The little boy shuffled his feet, threw the ball up in the air, took a swing and missed. “Strike one,” said the dad.
The son repositioned his feet, threw the ball up again, took a second swing and missed again. His father commented, “Strike two.”
More determined than ever, the boy dug in deeper, threw the ball higher and took a third mighty swing. He missed again, spun completely around and fell on the ground. His father said, “Strike three, you’re out. Well, what do you think about that?”
The youngster stood up, brushed himself off and cheerfully responded, “Man, am I a good pitcher!”
That’s the way we want to think about ourselves!
RESEARCH VALIDATES POSITIVE ATTITUDE
- People who have experienced similar life events can wind up with nearly opposite perceptions of life satisfaction. Researchers have compared, for example, people who have received a job promotion, and they found that while some of the people treasure the opportunity, others lament the added responsibility. The implications of life events are a matter of perspective (Chen, 1996).
- “Studies find that happy people experience much the same range of events as unhappy people. The real difference is in what they define as positive and negative. Happy people are those who use a lower threshold in order to label an event positive” (Parducci, 1995).
- “Those who regularly ruminate over negative subjects and unhappiness are 70% less likely to feel content than those who do not” (Scott and McIntosh, 1999).
- “People who like what they have are twice as likely to be happy as those who actually have the most” (Sirgy, Cole, Kosenko and Meadow, 1995).
- “Researchers found that having a positive attitude about those around us is among the most important predictors of life satisfaction and that without such attitudes, we are less than half as likely to feel happy” (Glass and Jolly, 1997).
- Confidence, in combination with a realistic self-appraisal, produces a 30 percent increase in life satisfaction (Sedlacek, 1999).
- Nine in ten people who believe they will one day realize their career goals have strong feelings of competence and assertiveness (Velting, 1999).
“The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.”
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
~ Dr. Paula