Thought: the Key Target for All Self Improvement
The foundation for all self-improvement is your thinking. So that makes thinking and thought the key target for all self-improvement. Right? So, the question is, “How is your thinking?” What are your predominant thoughts?
There is a saying, “If you want to change your life, change your thinking.” Many books have been written on the subject; e.g., Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, Power Thoughts by Louise Hay, Power Through Constructive Thinking by Emmet Fox. If you search on Amazon.com in the “books” category for the key words “the power of thought” you will get over 30,000 titles. Even I was surprised.
Everything first begins with thought
Think about it. (No play on words intended). Everything first begins with a thought. For example, the thought “I need a way to hold these papers together without having to fold the corner” brought forth the paper clip–something most of us take for granted. Thomas Edison must certainly have though about how nice it would be to have light without candles or oil lamps. Someone in cold country must have thought about and longed for indoor plumbing. It is the same with self improvement.
How I think of myself counts
Self-esteem is one of the issues most often dealt with in a therapy practice and is the underpinning of many other issues. Ponder the words self and esteem. How do I think of myself? It is a critical issue and there is no real “quick fix.” Someone else can tell me how wonderful I am but if I have no “buy in” to the statement, it has no impact on how I think of myself. Nothing changes in me. My self-esteem issues develop because of my own thinking about myself. To improve my self- esteem I must change the way I think about me.
Our self-esteem develops over the years and is unique to each person. Identical twins living in the same home with the same parents and experiencing the same lifestyle and environment can react very differently to what they experience.
A simple question by mom, for instance, can impact two children in opposite ways. “Why did you do that?” To one child it is a question requiring a simple answer, “Because I wanted to…” To another child, it implies criticism and/or doing something wrong. The first one answers the question and goes on with his day. The other may spend some time wondering “What is the matter with me?” This implies that something is definitely wrong with me.
Dwelling on a thought
The time we spend dwelling on a thought and the emotion we attach to it determines how great the impact is. If we dwell long enough on “I’m not good enough,” and have strong feelings of not-good-enough, we will establish the belief about ourselves that we are not-good-enough or not-as-good-as. And this grows like the concentric circle around a pebble thrown into the water, expanding and expanding until it can immobilize us emotionally.
Most of us don’t go to the extreme that we become immobilized. However, many escape into the TV, or a cause, or drugs and/or alcohol in an attempt to avoid their thoughts about themselves.
“Un-create” with your thoughts
But doesn’t it make sense that if you can create poor self esteem with your thoughts, you can un-create it with your thoughts? To put it another way, if you can make yourself feel bad with your thoughts, can’t you also make yourself feel good?
How do you do that? Like Nike says, “Just do it.”
There was a time when, at an all time low, I put sticky notes around where I could see them. I wrote on them things like, “I love and accept me just the way I am right now.” It helped me refocus on my positives instead of my negatives. The phrase “God don’t make no junk” also helped me rethink my worth.
The Starting Place
Affirmations may not be the starting place for you, but some things are essential to the process:
Gratitude: Become aware on at least a daily basis of all the things you have to be grateful for.
Awareness: Be aware of you negative thinking and, without beating yourself up over the negative thoughts, began to replace them with positive thoughts. Notice how often you say the words can’t, won’t, don’t, shouldn’t, but, etc. Take them out of your vocabulary.
Forgiveness: Old angry feelings carried over a period of time will eat you up. Forgive the person(s) who hurt you and let it go. This can give you a new freedom and a feeling of power and well-being.
Seek Help: In the beginning you may need to seek help to get your thoughts and emotions sorted out. Let someone you trust help you see the real you. Let them “play back” the words that speak of negativity and re-frame them into positive self talk. . Let them help show you your beauty and strengths as well as the emotional “warts.” The beauty can be enhanced and the warts can be removed.
There is no better time than now to begin to love and appreciate who you are. Start now by thinking something nice about yourself.