You will never rise above the level of your self image.
It’s how you see yourself. More than that, it determines what you do. Even further, it determines your identity.
Let me explain:
Self Image as Your Ceiling: “I am not smart enough to study the hard sciences” is a limitation on your intelligence. “I’m not dedicated enough to learn French” is a limitation on your ability.
The real danger, however, lies at the beginning of the sentence: “I am…”
Those two words tell me exactly how you see yourself. They tell me exactly where you will be a year from now. Who you will be a year from now.
The only way out is to change your self image. Take a new image and plug it in your subconscious. See it. Feel it. Visualize it. Do it vividly over and over until the images jolt your body with sensations reminiscent of reality.
Self Image as your Compass: “If I were [insert identity here], what would I do?”
If you were a waiter at a restaurant, what would you do? How would you act?
If you’re a waiter right now, your list will be comprised of your current every day activities of serving, being polite to customers, etc.
Now change the image: If I were the manager of this restaurant, how would I act? How would I walk? What time would I show up? Would you spend an extra minute with customers, or maybe encourage your co-workers? Would you do tasks that need to be done without asking?
I hope you catch my drift. Tell me who you are, and I’ll tell you how you will act.
Better yet, tell yourself who you want to become, and simply be it.
We don’t have everything figured out.
This is news to me, honestly. Every time I see a new app or hear about a new business, my first thought is “Why didn’t I think of that?”
My second thought? “Oh well, looks like I’ve missed out. Everything is officially figured out now.”
Just think: How were we connecting before facebook, and paying for online services before paypal? Better yet, who knew we could grasp those technologies along with tons of other media simultaneously on a smartphone? Great ideas, and we missed our turn to discover them.
But this is the wrong way to think. Enter Richard Branson:
“What humanity has collectively learned so far would make up a tiny mark within the circle. Everything we all have to learn in the future would take up the rest of the space. It is a big universe, and we are all learning more about it every day. If you aren’t listening, you are missing out.”
I’ve been looking at it completely wrong. In fact, I’ve made a (poorly drawn) visual aid to push my point across. Here’s my way of thinking before Branson’s wisdom:
The black in the circle represents what we already know, and the white dot shows the elusive .0001% of stuff we have yet to discover. Again, this is totally wrong. Here is a proper representation:
In this graphic, the color representations are the same. This time, the visual accurately depicts our state of being with respect to our limited knowledge.
But this is all garbage, you say. Why does Branson’s word make it so?
I’d challenge you to look at what he’s accomplished. Record company? Check. Airline? Check. Over 400 companies? Done.
Better yet, look at the innovators of your favorite apps, services, and businesses. Do you think they accomplish(ed) anything by believing everything has already been done? Such thinking would relegate them to defeat and inaction.
Instead, they see the world as the second visual portrays, full of uncharted territory. Better yet, they take old ideas and make them better, or two bad ideas and combine them into one good idea.
This was news to me. If it was news to you too, then consider this your first great discovery. Now, what can you create in light of this?
With her unprecedented defeat, MMA Fighter Ronda Rousey went from being an icon of “mythical” proportions to the poster child for fragility in just a matter of seconds. Now, she has finally come out of hiding to discuss her future in the Ultimate Fighting Championship:
The former women’s bantamweight champion revealed on Tuesday that her upcoming bout with Amanda Nunes at UFC 207 would be ‘one of my last fights.’
Now UFC president Dana White has confirmed that news as well by saying that Rousey has informed him that her career will come to a close in the near future, although he didn’t want to let the cat out of the bag on how many fights she actually has left in her.
It’s hard to believe that such a dominant figure can be sapped of all confidence following a setback. So what exactly happened there? Let’s revisit the shame/guilt dynamic, shall we?
Many people think shame and guilt are the same thing, but they are very difference. To reiterate a concept I’ve discussed in the past, guilt is feeling bad about something you did, while shame is feeling bad about what you are, your very essence, your very identity
For shame-based people, even what little sense of guilt they have ends up fused with shame, making it something called toxic guilt. That is, they can’t separate their guilt from their shame, meaning they can’t separate their actions from their identity. For example, when you are operating from a sense of guilt, you can say something like “I am a good, decent guy who just happened to do a stupid thing. Doing something stupid doesn’t make my whole identity defective.”
Quoting “The Rawness” website, which is now down. Emphasis mine.
Ronda Rousey did not see herself as a good fighter who happened to be winning due to good technique and hard work; rather, she was an untouchable supherhuman who simply couldn’t be challenged.
There’s nothing wrong with a little overconfidence or banter, but the real problem starts when you begin to identify with the external, namely, your actions or circumstances.
“I’m going to beat up Correia and Tate, then go film a movie.”
Rousey went from boldly proclaiming her fights as an afterthought to hiding her bruised post-bout face in the airport. She constructed herself so squarely on the external that after the defeat, she claimed to have thoughts of harming herself. Afterall, her identity as she saw it, was defective. She was defective.
While many will debate her status as a role model, it is best to view Ronda Rousey’s story as a cautionary tale with universal application. She inspired many in various ways and encouraged women to find their craft, but she failed spectacularly in showing how to handle a setback. For her, it’s not too late. She can take this lesson into her newfound acting career. For those of us watching, we’re just as susceptible. We may not experience a fall anywhere near those heights, however identifying with the external in any situation can prove to be just as toxic.
“Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
We live in a world where mediocrity is commonplace.
You expect others to bring competence to their jobs, only to be disappointed. You expect social and emotional maturity, but instead you get thin-skinned pugilists who deal out bitterness as a default. You expect intelligence, but to your dismay, you encounter the masses making superficial commentary about the impending Presidential election.
There is only one way to win.
Want to hit back at poor customer service? Bring excellence to every task you undertake. Take on the unintelligent by refusing to entertain it (“it seems we have nothing to learn here, so I should better not engage in a ‘debate’ at this time”). Trade kindess and confidence for the bitter and vitriolic.
You are the thermostat. Allowing the unsophisticated, the emotional predators, and the undesirable to change your temperature is a victory for them. Do not get in the mud.
Unless you’re a candidate in the midst of campaign season. Jump in the mud and fight. You’re already dirty.
In the previous post, I covered the folly of pursuing external rewards for your fulfillment and demonstrated its inverse relationship to your happiness.
Now, I’d like to expand on a concept I alluded to: defining and achieving happiness.
What is Happiness?
If I could simplify the process of happiness down to its very core, it would look like this:
Happiness is Gratitude.
The focus is not on what you can have, or can be; the focus strictly revolves around all that you have and all that you are in this moment. Your job from there is to be thankful for the experiences you have had as well as the good characteristics you possess.
What you focus on becomes your reality. This is why two men can be in the same spot in life, yet one is happy and one is not. Concentrating on the “haves” will yield more; concerning yourself with lack will allow the lack to manifest.
Your assignment: Each day (I prefer the morning personally) find 5 things to be grateful for and briefly focus on them. They can be experiences, things you’ve learned the previous day, your good qualities, etc. Keep this up for 3 weeks and let me know how (or if) things have changed.
“The One” is a mythical concept that is destroying your happiness. Yet you place so much pressure on yourself to achieve it.
The one could refer to the one girl, the one job or school, the one house/city/location, etc.
What happens when you don’t get “the one?” Well let’s take a look at your thought process:
“If I only had X, I would be happy/fulfilled/complete.”
Failure to achieve this
need want pushes your fulfillment further and further away, as it desperately depends on getting the one.
So, what happens if you do get it? Let’s take a look:
- Your fulfillment never happens, thus you find a new “one” to look forward to. The job you wanted? It’s yours. Now you’d be happy if only you got the ostentatious office, the raise, the big project…
- Reality hits you hard, and you realized what you “needed” all along is actually not the right thing for you. But will you change? Nope, you will rationalize yourself into oblivion.
- You realize the folly in your approach and begin to exercise gratitude for all that you have, seeing the one in a different light. True fulfillment is now yours. You submit the script of your life to Disney.
You can save yourself a TON of trouble by taking the following phrase to heart:
Happiness Comes From Within.
Say it five times meaningfully. Write it on your mirror. Meditate on it. Do what you must to ingrain this truth into every fiber of your being.
Then do yourself a favor and move towards gratitude for what you have and seek to fulfill yourself. For if any one external thing is the source of your future happiness, then it controls you, emotionally, mentally, and maybe sometimes physically.
If that’s your thing, keep chasing it. But I implore you to turn and find true fulfillment.