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Stop Holding Yourself Back
Try this exercise. Take a sheet of paper and list down all the emotions you can think of? Take a couple of minutes and if possible, keep writing for as long as you can? Come on, do it. I'll still be here when you get back.
Now, take your list and go back over what you wrote and give each of those emotions a listing out of 10 (one for weakest, ten for strongest) based on how strongly you have personally felt each of them.
Just a clue, the ones you wrote down first will probably rate higher. If it took you two minutes of fairly dedicated thinking to come up with an emotion, you've probably never really felt that particular emotion very strongly. And by the way fellas, there are more than two emotions?.
Next, if necessary, go through your list and put them in order of strength with the strongest at the top and the weakest (the ones) at the bottom.
Once you have done that, answer this question:
How far down the list did you have to go before you came to an emotion that usually has a positive spin on it?
Many of the people I try this exercise with find that it is not until the third or fourth one on their list that they come to an emotion that usually has a positive slant. How about you???
No wonder researchers show that 95% of your self-talk is negative!
Once you become aware of that, you are a large part of the way to being able to change it.
But why would you want to change it?
After all, you've come this far in life with a whole lot of negative self talk.
But that's just the point. If you got this far with all that negative feedback, just imagine how much more you can achieve if that negativity stopped, or at least was reduced.
But it's important for you to realise that in order to turn off the flow of negative thoughts and turn on the flow of positive thoughts and self talk will take some time, some effort, some commitment, some discipline.
And its not something you can do for just a few minutes a day. Its something you need to work on all the time.
It's a bit like dieting, or exercise. You can't do two minutes of exercise every now and then and hope to achieve any improvement in your fitness level.
Nor can you have a healthy breakfast then "pig out" on greasy foods for the rest of the day and expect to lose any weight.
There is any number of different exercises you can undertake to change your self talk from negative to positive. We will look at one or two shortly. You may find others that suit you better. But they all have one thing in common. Each of the exercises has as its basis the replacement of all the negative images, or bits of information you have stored in your subconscious with positive ones.
With all of these exercises you will need to exercise some personal discipline.
The world in which we live seems fascinated by bad news. No doubt you have heard it said that 'bad news sells'. Good news, apparently does not sell, at least not newspapers.
And bad news produces more bad news as each tries to top someone else's disaster with their own"you think that's something, wait till you hear what happened to?" (you can almost hear echoes of the Monty Python Yorkeshiremen's skit?"Shoes, you war looky?. ")
It's as if we need to find some justification, some excuse for feeling the way we do.
And why do we feel the way we do?
Because that little voice in our heads keeps up a constant stream, telling us how stupid, how dumb, how clumsy, how hopeless we really are.
Absolutely everything you have ever experienced through your sense gates is sitting there in your subconscious, just waiting for the time when it can be used in answer to one of the questions, one of the requests for information your conscious mind gives to the subconscious. It's there, It cannot be deleted. But it can be diluted, even swamped.
What I mean by that is one way you can lessen the negative self talk is to fill your life with positive material. No, I'm not suggesting you live in some unreal utopian existence that has no basis in reality. Rather, I am suggesting you choose, quite deliberately the material you experience.
So, rather than watching the nightly news service,
read a biography of a famous person, particularly if that person overcame some sort of adversity to make something of themselves.
Listen to or read some self development materials.
Listen to your favourite music.
There is any number of videos that put magnificent still life photos and nature videos to music. Buy and watch some. You will be surprised how healing it can be.
These are just a few ideas to get you thinking in the right direction. You can probably come up with a whole lot moreideas that suit you, simply by asking your subconscious the question "What positive things can I do, can I read, can I listen to that will be enjoyable enough that I will want to keep doing them?" And give your subconscious some time to come up with answers to that question.
Will that change your life?
You'd better believe it.
Graham Hunt is the founder of Prentis Carpenter Center, an organisation established to resource an environment where people who so desire can discover and fulfill their potential. One way in which Graham is doing that is through is website at http://www.higher-self-esteem-site.com/ Drop by anytime.
Illustration by Kevin Van Aelst for The Chronicle Review - Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription)
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