Roots: What’s In Your Garden Now?
“The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”
– William James
What’s holding you back? Even those who fully embrace the theory of positive thinking may feel some qualms over entrusting their lives to mere thought. There are many possibilities that could be producing weeds in your mental garden, and the best way to get rid of a weed is to yank it out, roots and all. In this section we’ll discuss some of the most common stumbling blocks people encounter on the road to positive thinking, as well as how to overcome them and lay the foundation for a healthy life outlook.
Self-Esteem: Catching the I-Love-Me Disease
For most of human existence, self-esteem was an unheard-of notion akin to the theories of those heretics who believed the world was round. The term “self-esteem” – defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “pride in oneself; self-respect” – made its way into the common public awareness during the ‘60s and ‘70s as a catch-all term to describe the essence of parenting problems. The “old ways” of parenting were pronounced barbaric and damaging to the budding self-esteem of our youth, and many parents fearful of raising unhappy, ill-adjusted children took advice that led to a generation of children with high self-esteem…so high it eclipsed personal responsibility and created a “me-first” mentality. On the other hand, most of us are taught that thinking highly of ourselves is a vain, selfish and undesirable trait. Advice telling us to feel better about ourselves and occasionally put us first seems counterintuitive at best. After all, isn’t self-love the first step on the road to Ego Central? Many people want to feel good about them, but guilt too often rears its ugly head and stops healthy self-esteem from developing.
Because of these conflicting viewpoints, self-esteem is a tricky little emotion to manipulate. It’s important to strike a balance between modesty and greed. It takes practice to convince yourself that you are a worthwhile and deserving person, while at the same time keeping in mind that you’re not the center of the universe. Though it may sound impossible, it’s actually simple to accomplish.
“Upon our children, how they are taught, rests the fate- or fortune- of tomorrow’s world.”
– B. C. Forbes
The things we learn in childhood aren’t easy to forget- mostly because we don’t actively remember them. It is far harder to dislodge subconscious thought. When we are unaware not only of why we embrace or avoid certain things, but also unaware of the fact that we are embracing or avoiding them, pinpointing the roots of our actions is a difficult process.
Childhood lessons don’t always come from our parents, and often not even the messages we received from them were intentionally placed there. For example, if you parents raised you to be helpful, courteous, polite, and giving, you may have learned those lessons so well that the very idea of doing something for yourself makes you shy away – and you may not know why. On the other hand, if your parents gave you everything you wanted without you ever asking for it or lifting a finger, you may project those same expectations on everyone around you- again, with no idea why you’re doing it, or even that you are doing it at all. Many times, outwardly selfish people are shocked to discover that others perceive them as selfish. They may even believe themselves the kindest, most benevolent people they know.
Dangle Your Own Carrot
Ask any business owner and you’ll find out that rewards are one of the most powerful motivators. People are more willing to work toward a goal when they know they will get something out of it at the end. Since your boss probably won’t reward you for losing weight or remodeling your bathroom, you can plan to give yourself a reward when you meet a given goal.
When selecting self-rewards, be sure to match them to your goals. This will not only ensure you don’t get tired of the same reward, but will also help you when you’re planning the strategies you’ll use to accomplish your aims. For example, if you’d like to spend less time watching television and more time outside or with your family, you can reward yourself with a trip to the theater to see a great movie. If you’re planning to quit smoking, part of your strategy could be to set aside some of the money you’ll save by not buying cigarettes and get yourself a new outfit, or something you’ve had your eye on for a while but haven’t been able to afford.
Some goals come with intrinsic rewards already built in, yours for the claiming when you reach your objective. For example, if you’re going to start your own business, you already know you’ll be rewarded by working for yourself, possibly even by working out of your home. Whether you’re working for an intrinsic reward or providing yourself with an incentive, treating yourself is a great way to generate enthusiasm for the task at hand.
That’s right. Sometimes, you should just give up. This may not be the type of advice you’d expect to find in a book about positive thinking. However, there is a specific time when you should surrender- and that is when you hate doing what you’re doing.
“Like what you do. If you don’t like it, do something else.”
– Paul Harvey
Too many people end up settling for the life they think they ought to have, the life others have told them to expect, or the life they believe they’re stuck with. You must realize that there is room on this planet for everyone, and if you’re feeling trapped in a job you despise or a living space you can’t stand, you need to make a change- not down the road, when you have time, or as soon as you get whatever it is you’ve been waiting for; but right now. That elusive “someday” is always going to be in the future, and you can’t catch up to the future. Now is the only time you have.
This doesn’t mean you should drop everything and throw caution to the wind- at least, not in most cases. If you’re like most people, you have responsibilities that must be taken care of. However, there is always something you can do right now to cast out your net and catch “someday,” and start pulling it toward you. Do you hate your job, but lack the experience to get a different one? Start taking night classes or sign up for an online course. There are hundreds of accredited universities offering distance learning classes over the internet. Is your house or apartment located in a neighborhood that started out great, but is becoming worse every day- and you haven’t found the time or the money to move? Take a close look at your budget and see if there’s anything you can do without for a few months, or ask your landlord or Bank if they have any other properties you could look into.
Waiting fuels the fires of apathy. Doing something about your situation, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, can start a chain reaction of enthusiasm that will energize you to reach your goals. You deserve to get what you want out of life while you’re still here to enjoy it. Don’t put it off another day, because your “Someday” is right now!