Do you see the glass half empty or half full? Most people will say “half full” with the implication of having a positive outlook on life, and yet the same people will likely constantly argue for their limitations. What do I mean? Ever hear someone say “I’m always late” or “I never do this right” or “I always forget to do that”. This is how the average person talks and so it’s easy to overlook.
To affirm something is to confirm that it is true. Every time you tag yourself with a limiting behavior, you are further affirming (think making more firm) this trait into your conscious and sub-conscious mind. Proverbs 18: 20-21 says:
A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth;
From the produce of his lips he shall be filled.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
And those who love it will eat its fruit.
Master of success Napoleon Hill was famous for saying:
“A man comes finally to believe anything he tells himself often enough even if it is not true.”
So what do you say when you talk to yourself? This question comes from a book with a similar title “What to Say When you Talk to Yourself” by Shad Helmstetter Ph.D. The book is all about “self-talk” and the power it has in creating our lives. What we give energy to and verbally affirm, we manifest in our lives…for better or worse.
We all have strengths and weaknesses. That’s how God made us. The most successful people identify their strengths and order their lives around living in their strength zones. They work to build up their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. That’s not to say they ignore their weaknesses but they don’t go around reinforcing them each day with negative self talk.
If my message is resonating with you and you agree that there are a few areas in your life where you argue for your limitations, the next step is to create a strategy for change.
Step 1 – Accept responsibility for the fact that you do speak limitations into you life.
If you’re still reading, this shouldn’t be a big step as you would have cut me off if you disagreed and felt like you were free from any self-limiting talk or behavior. The important thing is to own it and realize that your negative behavior is nothing more than a series of poor habits reinforced by your spoken words.
Step 2 – Ask yourself why?
If you’re always late, then why? This one is easy however I would like to use a different example. Do you know anyone who is always BUSY? In my role as a manufacturer rep, I support a number of sales reps and a few in particular who are always living with their pants on fire. They are always super busy, or playing catch up, or stressed with their schedule, and on and on. Ask them how they’re doing with reference to their jobs and these are the answers you get…regardless of the circumstances.
Now they may in fact be very busy with their schedules however are the reasons positive or negative? Do they plan their schedules in advance? Do they procrastinate preparing for client appointments or formal presentations? Do they delegate (when possible) to their support team or are they control freaks who must do everything for themselves? These are all valid questions and even if none of them are relevant, this person’s self talk still fosters added stress in their life.
My personal answer for “How’s your week going” with regard to work is that “I have lot’s of good things going on” or “I’m developing lot’s of positive activity.” I could be three feet under just trying to get back to the surface for air however I’m not giving in and speaking negative into my life.
My personal standard is excellence and it comes from within. It is not based on outside circumstances. I focus my life and business efforts on the positive and the things I can control…and let the rest go. If I can’t effect or control it, I do my best to not let it steal my “joy”.
Step 3 – What ever your self-limiting behavior, you must create turn around statements or affirmations directly attacking what you’re seeking to change.
The following is a short list of negative and limiting statements followed by a positive turnaround affirmation:
Negative – “I’m always running late”
Positive – “I am faithful and disciplined to always plan and arrive at any event 15 minutes in advance”
Negative – “My schedule is so busy or I’m always running behind or I never have enough time to properly prepare”
Positive – “I am faithful and disciplined to start preparations for any event well in advance. I shoot to be ready with at least two days to spare…to allow for last-minute revelations and peace of mind”
Negative – “I always forget to do a certain task”
Positive – “I am faithful and disciplined to use a check list to insure accuracy and compliance in meeting and completing all my daily responsibilities.
These may not necessarily be statements you share with other people, however you should definitely speak them to yourself. Further, you should write them on post it notes or small note cards and place them in multiple places so you see them numerous times a day. The repetition of seeing and speaking these new positive affirmations will change you in time.
Ben Franklin had a system based on thirteen personality traits where he focused on one trait per week covering the list quarterly and then ultimately four times per year. He is also known as one of the most polished, adroit, influential, and admirable gentlemen in our nation’s history. It was not by accident that he reached this status. He worked very hard to consistently brush off the rough edges…and you can do the same.
Closing Thoughts for My Readers
My number one spiritual gift is to be an encourager and it hurts me when I see people run themselves down with their spoken words. Beyond my brief suggestions, the following may be old, but they are classics still widely read because their message is timeless. Read and embrace these words of wisdom and never stop working to improve yourself.
And then no list on attitude would be complete without the last entry from one of my mentors, Jeffrey Gitomer. As I explained in detail here, this book changed my life.
As an added bonus, the following are the 13 Traits the great Ben Franklin used to mold himself into quite the gentlemen:
Benjamin Franklin’s Success Secrets
Trait #1 – Appreciation or Gratitude
Notice the blessing in everything, big and small. Dwell on the beauty in all I see, hear, touch, taste and smell. Realize that everything is a gift from the Lord God and is put there in order to enjoy and learn from.
Trait #2 – Positive Speech
Judge the value of my words before I speak. Speak only what may benefit others and myself. Avoid evil speech and gossip.
Trait #3 – Tranquility, Peace, Patience
Interpret everything quietly and without undue confusion, excitement, or anger. Be not disturbed at trifles or at accidents common or unavoidable. Whatever is happening in life, be patient. Determine the lesson to be learned in every challenge in order to become elevated. Control anger.
Trait #4 – Righteousness
Do unto others as you’d have done unto you , and as they desire to be done unto. Wrong none by doing injuries. Be just by accepting my duties and responsibilities.
Trait #5 – Gentleness
The words of the wise are spoken softly and peacefully.
Trait #6 – Respect / Honor Others
Be extremely careful with the honor and feelings of others. Strive always to make the other person feel good about himself & herself.
Trait #7 – Physical Health
Exercise daily and eat with health and moderation.
Trait #8 – Quickness
Do all I need or have to without wasting time (procrastination) and with maximum productivity per moment. Cut off all unnecessary actions. Focus.
Trait #9 – Resolution
Resolve to perform what I ought & have chosen to perform, without fail. Act with consistency, as well as persistence. Be diligent.
Trait #10 – Order & Cleanliness
Keep all living and working environments both clean and in order. Be organized. Clean, file, straighten up as soon as necessary and right away. A place for everything and everything in its place.
Trait #11 – Thrift & Frugality
Use money wisely and for the benefit of all (to do good for others and myself) and with no waste.
Trait #12 – Truthfulness
Be truthful in all that I say (based on motivation & intent).
Trait #13 – Humility
Understand that I have great ability, but that ability is a gift from the Lord God. Recognize my own weak points in order to improve upon them, but do not dwell on the faults of others. Be a servant leader.