Finding or Creating Yourself?

The phrase “Know thyself” is a motto inscribed on the frontispiece of the Temple of Delphi. It shows that humans must stand and live according to their nature. People have to look at themselves.

In 1959 psychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow had major influence in popularizing self-concept in the west.

According to Carl Rogers, in 1959 he said the self-concept has three different components:

  • The view you have of yourself (Self-image)
  • How much value you place on yourself (Selfesteem or self-worth)
  • What you wish you were really like (Ideal self)

The Law or Attraction or the idea we create ourselves goes back to the Buddha who said, “All that we are is a result of what we have thought.” Jesus said, “It is done unto you as you believe.” And it says in the Talmud, “We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.”

More recent quotes from sages include one from Napoleon Hill who said, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “We become what we think about all day long.” New Thought writer Louise Hay has popularized using affirmations to support your Law of Attraction goals. A proponent of self-love and self-compassion, she has helped Law of Attraction practitioners see the power that a positive self-concept has to boost your vibration and increase your ability to manifest.

More recent, in the 21st century, Rhonda Byrne’s book The Secret (and her associated film) has turned the Law of Attraction from a niche interest into a concept with worldwide fame and general applicability. The Secret presents the views and teachings of a wide range of prominent and emerging Law of Attraction practitioners. The film is known for its straightforward, empowering approach to manifestation. For example, it stresses that setting goals, reflecting on negativity and learning new ways of thinking are all key to getting what you really want. Readers and viewers come away from his material believing that anyone can use the Law of Attraction to their advantage; that it is not the purview of experts, or of the spiritually evolved.

Now that we know both concepts about self-awareness and creating ourselves have been around since the beginning of thought, we can assume these ideas must be important. Now more and more momentum on this subject has brought forth more ideas and ways to approach growth and expansion.

I’ve been practicing both, learning about myself, and creating myself almost all of my life. As a child I dreamt of becoming beautiful (like my sister) and having many men falling into love with me (like my sister). Lo-and-behold! My ugly duckling body became transformed into a swan, and my last year in college, I received eight proposals of marriage.

After that my manifesting went from hit or miss, and I didn’t know why until another factor got my attention. I discovered how unkind, how judgmental, and how my beliefs about myself—I believed I was unworthy and not good enough—were keeping me stuck, unable to receive what I wanted.

I experimented. I let myself think thoughts about myself I didn’t want to manifest. Being careful with which thoughts I’d allow, I ended up having that thought materialize into something that had been born out of that thought.

I can’t remember the exact thoughts I played with, but they were always about something that wouldn’t make a long-lasting, unwanted impact on my life. Thoughts like “I always do things the wrong way” set me up for making another mistake. Or the thought, “I might not have enough money for what I want”, created other, unexpected expenditures, so I didn’t have enough.

I still can’t constantly manifest what I desire. Each time a manifestation doesn’t appear, it’s because of a new block that prevents me from manifesting.

But I’m knowing for sure that our thoughts create our reality. I know now to say, “Cancel” or “Go Away” to negative thoughts. They have been bombarding me less and less. In fact, days go by with no negative thoughts.

I say “Yes!” to positive thoughts. It’s essential to think positively to be happy.

I am also finding myself full of gratitude for how happy I’ve become with my life. Success in becoming happy depends on the love you have in your heart, so the more you see that which you love, the more you’ll be creating your happy being.

What is Success?

What is success for you? I used to think having more money than most people would make me feel successful. But it did the reverse. There are many things about money that impede good relationships.  I experienced moneyed people thinking their wealth meant they were special, causing those who didn’t have as much money to think of themselves as less. And in your own relationship with yourself, if you think having more money will make you feel you’re not only good enough, that you’re successful, it doesn’t.

So, since money doesn’t guarantee your success, can anything else? I thought becoming a successful artist would make me feel successful. It did for a while. I loved the adulation, the compliments, the notoriety, when I had my first one woman show for my artwork in New York. But living in the limelight never brought me happiness. After a while, having to prove yourself repeatedly to other people that you are you can produce more success, it gets to be painful.

We could make a list of all the things people think will make them feel successful, but nothing by itself ever does. So what does? 

What makes you feel successful has everything to do with what’s inside you. True success is in the journey toward manifesting  what you love doing, being, or having. It’s in the solving the problems, learning new skills, feeling our way through what’s blocking us. Success is the result of growing and becoming more.

Now I’m going to ask you a personal question. What would your life look like if you didn’t care what other people thought? If there were no “Should’s” and “Have to’s”.

I don’t know about you, but I felt freed not having to fit in or worry about how someone else was going to be affected. I felt power I’d never known I could feel.

What is genuine success for you? Whatever your answer, the first step you must take is to embrace the desire to be more. The second step on our way to success is to make a commitment. We need to make that promise because we are afraid of change, so we need to know our goal is more important than our feeling safe.

After committing, look for times you feel resistant. Resistance is the signal you’re on the right path. It’s a sign we’re close to success. The key to let go of the resistance is in choosing to take action over feeling the fear.

Success happens when we’ve come to that feeling of completion in every facet of ours lives. It exists when success encompasses all aspects of our lives.

As we delve deeper into success, we’re going to explore becoming more powerful. Thank you for reading this far. There’s so much more to come as we point out the blocks that stop most people from succeeding at success.

When Everything Slows Down

Who Am I 5-1

It’s been hard to motivate myself since the pandemic created a massive change in everyone’s lives. It’s slowed down my already diminished “have to do” list. My routine has become, I wake, shower, meditate, eat, clean dishes, call family and friends, check the news, eat, clean dishes, watch movies on Netflix, sleep.

In between I procrastinate with reading what’s new during the pandemic—what changes are being made and when and how we will be able to move freely again. I am also lured into watching movies Netflix is adding to its site.

Eager to write for my blog again after taking time off to finish a book I’d written. I vowed that I’d write every day so I could post every week. But that’s not happening.

I confess to not having been a responsible blogger in the past. I didn’t always post fresh material each week.

But now it’s worse. I don’t feel the inclination to write about what I wrote before. That never stopped me from sitting at my computer until an idea propelled me on to write.

It’s possible that having slowed everything down to essentials in my life has resulted in not feeling any urgency to get my work done. My reaction to the turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic was to double down on meditation and walk to commune with nature every day. I watch only movies and read books that are funny and/or uplifting. It’s my carefully calculated way of keeping myself from becoming depressed.

Knowing this is not who I am, I wonder how I can keep myself from feeling distracted each time I sit down to write. Having become so calm has turned into a problem.

My research brought up the fact that procrastination is because of discomfort, but at first that made little sense to me. Feeling discomfort writing before didn’t stop me from writing. It was a little anxiety that helped me to begin writing before.

We motivate ourselves to work with something outside ourselves. When our work is something we love to do, the work itself motivates us. Because I no longer had a routine, I needed to find extra motivation to work despite having lost what had motivated me before the pandemic.

Celebrated author Nir Eyal shares powerful insights on the science and psychology of procrastination in a podcast on Mindvalley. He says that everything we do is to escape discomfort. We need to learn how to control and manage our discomfort to take action.

In my case, needing to learn a novel way to manage my discomfort became my goal. First, I needed to acknowledge that involving myself with something other than what I planned to do was due to discomfort. By naming what it was, I realized whatever had my attention was procrastination, not anything else.

Nir Eyal offers two ways to do this. The first step is the 10 minute rule. You say to yourself, “I don’t crave distraction anymore. I can get past this distraction in 10 minutes”.

Set a timer for 10 minutes. You can either return to the task you wanted to do or sit with the discomforting sensations of either blame or shame.

Blamers criticize other people. “It’s So and So’s fault for keeping me from being able to work.“ Shamers condemn themselves. “If I had any guts, I wouldn’t be tempted with stuff that doesn’t serve me.“

Be present with the urge to blame or shame until it stops. Allow the thoughts to play out until they lose their strength.

The second step is for when you feel guilty about making time for entertainment. If you want to watch something on Netflix, instead of feeling guilty, if you intend when you want to do this, you are changing how you’re approaching what you think of distraction.

By determining the details first, getting the information, then defining by scheduling the time, you do it without feeling you’re procrastinating.

Another suggestion from Eyal is that if you set a period of time you will lock out on your calendar to work without distraction, you don’t have to deal with the discomfort of feeling pulled away from working to procrastinate.

These suggestions helped to help me overcome the fears that came up when I tried to write. Telling the truth to myself helped me define what was happening. Rather than judge my response, I could distinguish what action to take.

The best that’s come from facing the truth is I don’t crave distraction anymore. It’s so much more satisfying to feel good about a job well done.

Besides, now that procrastination is all right when I plan for it, I can still enjoy it.

 

 

 

Warning/ Your Thoughts Are Your Worst Enemy

We know thoughts crop up out of nowhere. Some are a nuisance, scaring us do something we planned or causing guilt over something we did long ago. We put up with them, but maybe they’re not just a nuisance. Maybe they are detrimental to our well-being.

When I was younger, I wasn’t able to visualize myself getting any older than 45 years of age. That was the age I had set a goal to have a one-woman show of my artwork in New York City. 

The future was beyond my imagination.

My artwork was the only reason I had to feel worthy and enjoy living. I was unhappy in my marriage and struggling to find contentment. I cried every night to release pain and sorrow.

Finally, without a reason to go on living, I let go of holding on to my dilemma and sought help. My husband told me we couldn’t afford a psychologist, but I surprised myself by responding, “I can’t afford not to go.” It was the first time I had felt the confidence to stand up to his controlling tendency.

I was ready for a new beginning.

Thus began a journey into my mind. Volumes of hidden anger—somewhere I had learned it wasn’t proper for a woman to express her indignation—and an inability to perceive that I might have options, were among the many glaring traits I discovered.

The resentment raging from deep inside me at my first meeting with the psychologist surprised me, but the relief of finally being able to let go of the rage felt freeing. I went on for over an hour before I could stop ranting.

I didn’t realize I had set in motion a huge change in my life. I had instinctively taken the action I needed to discover why I had become so unhappy, and I opened possibilities that blew my mind.

I observed the thoughts in my mind. I realized the thoughts were creating the feelings I was experiencing. For instance, for whatever reason, I noticed that I was telling myself, “I feel sad,” right before a shower.  But the moment I realized what I was thinking wasn’t true—wasn’t what I was feeling—I knew for sure my thoughts had created the feeling.

Why do negative thoughts pop up in our minds?

Barry Gordon, professor of neurology and cognitive science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, replies: We are aware of a tiny fraction of the thinking that goes on in our minds, and we can control only a tiny part of our conscious thoughts. The majority of our thinking goes on subconsciously. Only one or two of these thoughts are likely to breach into consciousness at a time. Slips of the tongue and accidental actions offer glimpses of our unfiltered subconscious mental life.

How do unconscious thoughts influence our behavior?

Researchers have long known negative emotions program your brain to do a specific action. It’s the fight-or-flight response to danger. It’s the ego’s way of helping you stay safe. But constant negativity can also impede happiness, add to our stress and worry level, and ultimately damage our health.

When you’re in the fight-or-flight response mode, your emotions program your brain to do a specific action. When you’re facing danger, the rest of the world doesn’t matter. Negative emotions narrow your mind and focus your thoughts. Your brain ignores any option that isn’t focused on the immediate action you must take to avoid a calamity. 

This is useful when you’re trying to save yourself from getting hurt, but in most cases unnecessary. The problem is that your brain is programmed to respond to negative emotions in the same way—by shutting off the outside world and limiting the options you see around you.

This takes us back to my story of waking up to the fact that thoughts create feelings. One of the most striking traits in myself when I noticed my negative thoughts were my being unaware of my options.

My Aha! moment happened while sharing a story with my psychologist. Our maid was off every Sunday. I would ask my husband to take me and our four children to dinner on those nights. Getting four young children ready was almost as hard as preparing dinner and cleaning up afterward, but I liked being able to get out of the house one night a week. 

Often, at the last-minute, all of us ready to go, my husband would decide that he’d rather eat at home. He’d go to the grocery store for TV dinners, and, frustrated, I’d cry. “Why didn’t you go out without him?”, my psychologist asked me.

It was as if a light bulb lit up inside my mind. I hadn’t fathomed I had options. I must have believed I had to do as told.

“If you realized just how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.” Anonymous

 It takes time, but little by little, by questioning the unwanted thoughts flitting through my mind, I discovered that changing my thoughts to more positive ones—ones that weren’t out of the realm of believing—I noticed myself able to work at an ideal level. I was feeling more optimistic, feeling more freedom, and feeling happier. 

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” Norman Vincent Peale

In my follow-up to this post, I will share with you how to stop negative thoughts. In the meantime, try the first step to stopping them. Don’t try to stop them by telling yourself you have to stop thinking about the obsessive thought. Worry and obsession get worse when you try to control your thoughts. Instead, notice you’re in a negative cycle and own it. 

Question if the thought is true. If it isn’t true, try something that sparks feelings of joy, contentment, and love. It could be your favorite music, a walk in the park, or talking to a friend. We’ll begin work on ending the annoying thoughts in my next post.

If you have questions or want me to discuss any issue about your thoughts, please comment below.