The power of thought
Most of us feel disappointed at times. We fail to achieve some of our goals, maybe even all of them. Maybe we’ve set up too high a standard, or believe we can force change too quickly. Maybe the hard work required feels a bit too hard.
Problem is: We loose self confidence by feelings of failure, just like we do by thoughts about limitations or possible criticism. We tend to bind ourselves down by negative thought patterns. When we get used to them, we think we are them. Initially false statements may influence our thoughts, behaviors and reactions, in what is called the self-fulfilling prophecy, until they are fulfilled – unless we defy them, and prove them as wrong as they initially were.
How to change bad habits and behavior? Well, in this article we have a good example of how not to, followed by some good advice.
Children need good advice, support and (mainly positive) feedback to get on track and move forward through life safely and happily. As parents we would need the same but in lack of it, need to be our own supporters. A good partner can help you out. Still, if you need some fast-food advice on change, this post will be about how to help ourselves, and our kids, by the right mindset, by positive feedback and realistic goals.
We need a clear mental goal where we see ourselves succeed in something important to us. We need to focus on what we need to do – as opposed to focusing on the obstacles. Think it through: what to do, what the first steps would be, how to do it, when to start.
What we really want
When focusing on goals and achievements, when making up plans, we need to look at the stars and the horizon. The goal from far above, what we strive for. What goals get you closer to what you REALLY want?
What you REALLY want is probably connected to feelings rather than objects: comfort, love, admiration perhaps. Being proud of yourself is a good feeling. You can be proud of being of help to people, of being a supportive member of a community, a good parent, life partner or friend – but you wouldn’t feel as proud about an achievement you’ve gotten out of manipulation. Thinking of priorities, will we be content when we die?
Don’t get stuck with disappointment because of a presentation or a specific career move: you haven’t lost in life because you loose a game. There are other chances, and Life is about other things more important than money or winning.
The key is to imprint positive messages to ourselves – and our kids!
Pointing out what we are good at. What we’ve learned, experienced. How we’ve made it through rough patches before. That’s something to be proud of. When we are acting right, or at least not wrong. Sometimes that is good enough as a goal.
Reminding ourselves of situations we’ve felt good about ourselves. Maybe we’ve received appreciation, maybe we felt in control of a situation, or we knew we were making the right choice. How did we do it, then? Imagine the feeling of making it, again.
Focusing on what we know, what we can do, what we have. As opposed to everything we don’t, because that is the difference between feeling good about yourself and bad. Of course we may want more. But we won’t achieve it with envy or doubt.
Along the road, where we do meet obstacles, we need to rethink them. “How do I get cross that one?“, or “What have others done to get past?”. When we don’t succeed we need to rethink that situation too: “Next time, I’ll prepare for that.” I’m not saying we should deny mistakes, accidents or general crisis, but we can handle them well and view that as a good outcome too: “Now I’ve handled a crisis, and everything turned out ok.” Then we can learn from them. Accept that learning demands some crashes too. It’s part of the process. It’s natural, it’s okay, and you’ll recover.
It’s about how we interpret a situation. When there is trouble, it’s usually not about You, it’s about something: A specific problem you’re facing, or someone else’s problem that’s thrown your way. Maybe you need to practice a specific skill, or adapt your language or behavior to a new environment.
Use a curious mindset. Rethink your ways: “What seems to work better?” “What could be done differently?” Ask questions to clear things up with people around you: “How do you usually do this?” “What do you think?”
Changing thoughts and mindset is hard. Changing behavior, habits and life-style too. That is what therapy is for, on important issues. But small steps can take you far, in time. Every time you decide to make a choice you know is right and good for you and your family, you take one. That’s the way to make miracles happen, a small one, every day.
Our mood and mind affect us profoundly. Feeling bad about yourself rarely gets you anywhere. This is why management by criticizing never works. You need to be clear in what you want, be goal oriented, support people through the rough patches.
The key is to be realistic. Thinking things through. What is the very first step, something that proves you’re on the right track? Success is the very last step, so we need to keep our eyes on the road ahead, the stepping stones.