When I first heard that quote it was like one of that “AHA” moments, it hit me, I had clarity!
When I made the decision to give up years of daily drinking (my identity) and get on that plane and commit to change, my relationship with myself had changed.
I was in a different place with myself and the transformation had begun. I was on my way to start a new life in a place I had only visited once not knowing a soul.
My self-image had improved by taking those steps into the unknown and following through on my comment to myself, something I was terrified of and thought would be impossible for me to actually do.
So my circumstances were improving as a result of my improved relationship with myself.
Although I had quit drinking and I had moved to a new place and things were gradually improving.
I was still very much stuck.
You see, I thought things would automatically get better once I quit drinking…
That my whole life would transform and everything would be so much easier for me.
That I would have all these new friends, I would have the right girlfriend, and I would be happy.
That’s the opposite of what happened.
I was pretty miserable actually for several years.
Although I had quit drinking, I was still blaming alcohol for my problems, months and even years later!
Only now I was saying if I could still drink I would have the right friends if I could still drink I would have the right girlfriend if I could still drink things would be so much better and I would be happy.
I came to realize that the problem was never the alcohol…
My attitude towards myself and others was the problem.
I had been going to therapy, reading books and was becoming more introspective, by taking an honest look at myself.
And I was becoming self-taught by observing how I would habitually react to life.
Over time I was able to recognize that the drinking was a Band-Aid the real problem was me. I was creating the problems within myself as a result of the conception of my self.
You see, I had a very negative self-image. Deep down I just thought I was not good enough and I would find ways or circumstances to confirm this.
I just was not aware I was doing it.
Drinking had nothing to do with it.
I wanted my life to change but, nothing seemed to really stick.
I tried just about everything over the years.
AA, the problem i had there is i was more afraid of the peopel then drinking
Therapy- This helped some but we woud talk about the same problems I was having weekly.
Chruch – I met some great people but I ended up withdrawing like i always do.
The gym, This has had the biggest influece and has contiuned to help improve my relatiionshp with my self owver the yers.
But I was stuck! – This was a self-concept problem. I was not gong to find the answers out there I had to look inward at what was cause.
When I removed that band-aid and recognized that my thoughts were creating my problems that it had nothing to do with alcohol at all and it had everything to do with fear and a poor self-concept.
The fear of being judged and not feeling good enough…
I recognized that was really why I drank because it made me feel better about myself.
It made me feel comfortable in my skin so it became my identity, my self-concept a way to cope with the fear and create the illusion of a more secure confident guy.
And underneath the drinking is really where the real work had to take place.
I blamed my circumstances, drinking for years for why my life was so difficult and ultimately it had nothing to do with it.
I WAS THE PROBLEM. I was creating the problem within me.
Round and round and round I would go with the same thoughts and feelings over and over again, the fear of not feeling good enough.
Just 30 more minutes….
I’ll just take care of this one last thing…
Then thats it…
I’m done for the day.
It was already 10:27 p.m.
Another night spent trying to keep up with my business.
Once again, my “work day” had turned into all day.
And this wasn’t the first time.
Most of my days started at 7am and wouldn’t end till 1 o’clock in the morning.
Trying to assemble all these pieces of the jigsaw puzzle…
· Creating my website
· Doing the marketing
· Writing mails
· Social Media
· Customer Service
I felt like a pinball bouncing from one thing to another, reacting to whatever seemed urgent.
By the time I dragged myself to bed and looked back on the day, I realized I didn’t get much of anything important done
All my time was spent just trying to keep up.
Just adding to my overwhelm, stress and fatigue.
I finally realized I had no choice.
I had to get some help.
I just couldn’t put it off any longer….
I had to hire someone.
I decided to start with Craigslist.
I knew I wanted to work with someone local, and posting a simple notice seemed like a pretty easy way to begin the process.
All at once I got like 50 responses.
Great! MORE work to do!
As I read through a few, I realized that almost all of them were sent by unqualified people who simply saw that there was a paying job, so they wanted to email about it.
Then I found one that looked promising.
His name was Ben.
He included his resume, along with a link to his personal website that revealed his skills, interest and talents.
So I gave him a call and we decided to meet.
I arrived at Starbucks at 2 PM and there he was, right on time.
It’s always a bit uncomfortable meeting someone you’ve never seen before – especially when you’re interviewing someone.
But immediately Ben seemed like such a nice guy – someone I could see myself working with.
We seemed to connect right away.
We discovered we both went to the same church. And as we talked, I could see how he thought about things before he spoke, and that he was sensitive towards other people’s feelings.
He was doing a good job of interviewing me too….
“Some of the companies I’ve been meeting with just don’t come across as having integrity,” he said.“I’m looking for something better.”
I was a bit surprised by that, but I thought it was pretty cool for him to say – especially since that’s one of my core values as well.
The more we continued talking, the more I liked him for the position.
But then something happened….
Towards the end of our conversation, I started feeling my chest get tight…
This wave of uneasiness flooded over me.
I hadn’t planned on hiring anyone on the spot…
But it seemed like that’s where this was headed.
I had to stop myself from making some rash decision….
I can’t just rush into this!
I’ve got to think this over first…
I have to be absolutely certain this is the right guy…
Then I can make my final decision and finally get the help that I need!
So I told Ben it was great meeting him, and I would be in touch soon.
And 3 months later I still hadn’t hired him.
Or anyone else.
I just kept putting it off and putting it off.
Now don’t get me wrong – I had reasons for not hiring Ben right away…
What if he doesn’t turn out to be as good and trustworthy as he seems to be?
What if nothing changes and I’m just wasting money?
What if revenue decreases and I have to go in debt just to afford him?
What if I’m just really not ready to manage people yet?
But of course, the longer I waited, the worse things got.
Three months passed….
Three months of 15 hour days…
Three months of overwhelm, stress and anxiety…
Three months of my business not moving forward the way I knew it should…
And now I was further in the hole then I was before I interviewed Ben.
It was about that time that I signed up for Bob Proctor’s Paradigm Shift personal development event.
And one of his messages hit me hard….
“When you have to make important decisions in your life, one of the greatest stumbling blocks you will ever encounter is circumstance.”
“More dreams are shattered and goals lost because of circumstance than any other factor,” Bob said. “We let circumstance get us off the hook, when we should be giving our desires everything we’ve got.”
“How often,” Bob continued, “have you caught yourself saying, ‘I’d like to do this, or I’d like to have this, but I can’t because ____________.’
“Whatever follows the word BECAUSE is the circumstance. And even though circumstances may cause a detour in your life, you must never permit them to stop you from making important decisions.”
That’s when I realized…
All my excuses were just circumstances.
My inexperience with hiring, my uncertainty about the outcome, my concern about money – these were just circumstances that I had turned into excuses.
But if that was the case, what was the real issue?
This wasn’t really about revenue.
It wasn’t about going in debt.
It wasn’t about trust.
It wasn’t about management.
This was about FEAR.
So what was I so afraid of?
What was I really telling myself?
And when I was willing to look deeper inside, I realized the belief I had been trying to cover up.
If Ben does all this busy work for me…
If I really do have more time for important work…
Then I will have to run my operation like a real business.
And I know I’m not good enough to do that.
As long as I had no help, everything I’d have to do to grow my business stayed in the future.
But once I hired Ben, I’d have no excuse for my failure…
And people would know I was a fraud.
No more pretending.
No more avoiding.
I’d have to step into the unknown.
So all these excuses were just made up circumstances..
I didn’t really know I’d fail….
I had no proof I couldn’t do it….
I was just afraid.
Afraid I’d fail…
Afraid of the unknown…
Afraid I wasn’t good enough…
So I had to make a choice.
I could keep going on like this…
And let my business – and my dreams – just die.
Or I could forget all the excuses and the invented circumstances…
Accept that I was afraid…
And step into the unknown.
But once I confronted that choice honestly, and stopped hiding from my real fears…
I made my decision.
I emailed Ben to see if there was any chance he was still available. Or even interested after waiting so long to even hear from me.
Lucky for me, he told me he was ready to go.
We got on the phone to discuss the details, and I immediately said, “Welcome aboard!”
In that moment I knew it was the right decision.
I felt relieved…
I felt hopeful…
And sure enough, as soon as we started working together, my load started to diminish…
I started to feel like my to do list was manageable…
I started doing the work that needed to get done…
I started to focus on the things that were important to growing my business, and not chasing shiny objects all over the place and reacting to everything…
I was actually able to create some structure in my day, and manage my time more effectively!
And from then on, things just got better and better.
Looking back on all this a year later, I asked myself why it took me so long to take such an obvious step – and what finally made me do it.
And I discovered something I hadn’t realized..
My hesitation, my refusal to act, came from the same issue that arose when I gave up drinking…
And when I would push people away instead of letting them into my life…
I didn’t think I was good enough.
But I realized something else….
In the 4 months between interviewing Ben at Starbucks and actually hiring him, I had been doing a lot of other things that were outside of my comfort zone…
Bob Proctor’s Paradigm Shift Conference…
Reading self help books…
Creating a clear picture in my mind of who i want to be…
The kind of qualities I will have…
And Vividly visualizing or imagining my goals as if they were real.
So during that time I had been growing, taking little steps into the unknown, and unknowingly changing my self-concept.
And once my self-concept changed and I started to become more confident, my actions reflected this…
Until I was able to take this major step for my business.
Ben has been with me now for more than 2 years. And I have to tell you…
Hiring him and working with him has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my business.
I now have 3 more people working with me as well. And I love working with my team!
I get to share my experience and wisdom with these guys and see them grow into their talents and their potential.
And because of them, I can focus on the things I love about my work, the things that can help others grow and succeed.
But even now I think back about how many times I have fallen into the same trap…
Stopping myself from going after something I really wanted because I didn’t think I was good enough…
Didn’t think I was ready…
Didn’t think I belonged there.
And I wonder how many times you’ve let your circumstances or excuses stop you?
How many times have you let the picture you have of yourself stop you from going after the things you really want?
You might ask yourself, “What’s the real payoff for this?”
Fear of failure?
Fear that you’re a fraud?
Fear that you simply don’t know what you’re doing?
Then ask yourself, “Do I really have any evidence to support these beliefs?
“Any evidence that I really am a fraud?
“Or am I just using my past experiences to protect me from trying again?
“And might it be worth taking a shot – just to see how good I really might be?”
Now here is where it gets really interesting…
You will never outperform your own self-image.
For life makes no mistakes and gives you what you first give yourself.
Life does not care whether you call yourself rich or poor, strong or weak. It will eternally reward you with whatever it is that you claim is true of yourself.
If you want something different in your life, things will change only as you change your self-concept for your state of awareness or consciousness is the reality that eternally solidifies itself in the things around you.
Emerson once said, “Man surrounds himself with the true image of himself, as every spirit builds for itself a house beyond its house, a world beyond its world.” What you are, that only can you see. Therefore, build yourself a world as you would like it to be — a world beyond the world now visible to you.
The world you desire exists and will unfold itself in great proportions when you, all spirit, surround yourself with the true image of yourself as you would like to be. Think of your world as a canvas with the pictures painted there by the arrangement of your mind.
Your self-concept creates your world. There is no one to change except self.
Your self-concept, or the self-image, is your own conception of the “sort of person you claim yourself to be.” It has been built up from your own beliefs about yourself.
Most of these beliefs about yourself have unconsciously been formed from your past experiences, your successes and failures, your humiliations, your triumphs, and the way other people have reacted to you, especially in early childhood namely your parents.
Which we will call a PARADIGM
A paradigm can be likened to a program that has been installed in your subconscious mind. It is a mental program that has almost exclusive control over your habitual behavior.
When you think about it, virtually all of your behavior is habitual. When you get up in the morning and go to bed at night, you follow a routine. And the way you eat, exercise, work, relax and the time you wake up and go to sleep are all habits.
Now, let’s look at some other aspects of your life that your paradigm has enormous influence over. It controls your…
√ Use of time
√ Ability to earn money
The paradigm puts a box around each and every one of those areas, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t knock down the walls until you change the mental program.
How is it formed?
Although everyone has a paradigm, most of us don’t create it ourselves. We inherited it through our genetic and environmental conditioning.
You were programmed, for example, by your parent’s and ancestors’ DNA, as well as many of their beliefs—going back for generations.
And that’s not all…
Pretty much everything you were exposed to as a young child also became part of your paradigm.
You see, when you were a child, whatever happened around you went right into your subconscious mind because you had no ability to reject anything. Any ideas that you were exposed to over and over again were like seeds being planted in fertile soil. They took root and became part of the paradigm that controls every aspect of your life.
Now here’s the kicker…
We’re not taught about paradigms in school. So here we are, 20… 30… 40… 60 years later living the same way we were programmed as little kids.
Paradigms create and reinforce a positive self-image or negative self-image.
Maxwell Maltz – For those of you who aren’t familiar with him, he was an American cosmetic surgeon and author. By combining his daily work experiences as a surgeon with profound studies of human psychology, Maltz came to the conclusion that our self-image is the cornerstone of our mental state and therefore of all the successes and failures that happen in our lives as a result.
through understanding your self-image and by learning to modify it and manage it to suit your purposes, you gain incredible confidence and power.
Whether you realize it or not, each of us carries within us a mental blueprint or picture of ourselves. It may be vague and ill-defined to our conscious gaze.
In fact, it may not be consciously recognizable at all. But it is there, complete down to the last detail. This self-image is our own conception of the “sort of person I am.”
Remember, It has been built up from our own beliefs about ourselves. (Paradigms) Most of these beliefs have unconsciously been formed from our past experiences, our successes and failures, our humiliations, our triumphs, and the way other people have reacted to us, especially in early childhood.
For example, I grew up with the idea I just wasn’t good enough. My father was a doctor and I looked up to him, naturally, for approval as a young boy, I wanted to be like him.
All I really remember about growing up is that I felt like I was always just one step away from disappointing him.
He would leave my baseball game if I struck out.
When my report card would arrive and I didn’t do as well as he had expected he would compare me to my uncle who he thought wasn’t that bright.
I really just can’t remember anything encouraging.
He would make fun of the friends I had, comparing me to him when he was my age.
It just seemed like he was always finding an opportunity to tell me that I just wasn’t living up to his expectations.
This became my self-image: That I wasn’t good enough.
This paradigm became my self-fulling blueprint or self-image and everything I did confirmed it.
Your self-image will draw unto itself that which is in harmony with itself.
So since I believed that I wasn’t good enough, everything I tried to do confirmed that.
I didn’t do well in baseball, I didn’t do very well in school, I withdrew from my childhood friends..
Because I grew up with that paradigm it completely affected my childhood, adolescence and my early adulthood, it totally shaped my relationships and the way I experienced my world.
As I grew older I withdrew a lot more from people and when I found alcohol it made me feel whole.
Like I could be anyone and I was good enough.
Liquid courage and confidence.
Ultimately becoming my identity.
Maltz says –
“So as you can see we mentally construct a self (or a picture of a self). Once an idea or a belief about ourselves goes into this picture it becomes “truth,” as far as we personally are concerned.
We do not question its validity but proceed to act upon it just as if it were true. The self-image then controls what you can and cannot accomplish, what is difficult or easy for you, even how others respond to you just as certainly and scientifically as a thermostat controls the temperature in your home.
Specifically, all your actions, feelings, behavior, even your abilities, are always consistent with this self-image.
Note the word: always.
In short, you will “act like” the sort of person you conceive yourself to be. More importantly, you literally cannot act otherwise, in spite of all your conscious efforts or willpower.
(This is why trying to achieve something difficult with teeth gritted is a losing battle. Willpower is not the answer. Self-image management is.)
For example, the person who has a “fat” self-image — whose self-image claims to have a “sweet tooth,” to be unable to resist “junk food,” who cannot find the time to exercise — will be unable to lose weight and keep it off no matter what he tries to do consciously in opposition to that self-image.
You cannot long outperform or escape your self-image. If you do escape briefly, you’ll be “snapped back,” like a rubber band. The person who perceives himself to be a “failure type” person will find some way to fail, in spite of all his good intentions or his willpower, even if an opportunity is literally plopped in his lap.
The person who conceives himself to be a victim of injustice, one who was “meant to suffer,” will invariably find circumstances to verify his opinions. You can insert any specific into this: your tennis game, sales job, public speaking, weight loss, relationships. The control of your self- image is absolute and pervasive.
The self-image is a “premise,” a base, or a foundation upon which your entire personality, your behavior, and your circumstances are built.
As a result, our experiences seem to verify and thereby strengthen our self-images, and either a vicious or a malevolent cycle, as the case may be, is set up. For example, a student who sees himself as an “F”-type student, or one who is “dumb in math,” will invariably find that his report card bears him out.
He then has “proof.” In the same manner, a sales professional or an entrepreneur will also find that her actual experiences tend to “prove” that his or her self-image is correct.
Whatever is difficult for you, whatever frustrations you have in your life, they are likely “proving” and reinforcing something ingrained in your self- image like a groove in a record.
Because of this objective “proof,” it very seldom occurs to us that our trouble lies in our self-image or our own evaluation of ourselves. Tell the student that he only “thinks” he cannot master math, and he will doubt your sanity.
He has tried and tried, and still, his report card tells the story. Tell the sales rep that it is only an idea that she cannot earn more than a certain figure, and she can prove you wrong by her order book.
She knows only too well how hard she has tried and failed. Yet, as we shall see, almost miraculous changes have occurred both in grades of students and the earning capacity of salespeople — once they were prevailed upon to change their self-images.
Obviously, it’s not enough to say “it’s all in your head.” In fact, that’s insulting. It is more productive to explain that “it” is based on certain ingrained, possibly hidden patterns of thought that, if altered, will free you to tap more of your potential and experience vastly different results. This brings me to the most important truth about the self-image:
It can be changed.”
Let’s take a look at how you can begin to become aware of how to change your self-image.