A young man was called into the boss’s office. He working as an artist for a Missouri newspaper. He was informed that he was not creative enough and was no longer employed.
If you’ve ever lost a job you cherished you understand what this young man thought and felt.
In our minds, each of us looks at the life around us, at the actions and words – real or perceived – and draw conclusions of our own self worth.
Those thoughts create our emotions and determine our actions. They help us to move forward, work around an obstacle, and accomplish our goals. It’s a wonderful system……..unless our thoughts are wrong.
In the book, ‘As a Man Thinketh,’ James Allen wrote:
“All that you accomplish or fail to accomplish with your life is the direct result of your thoughts. You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”
As a child I learned “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. Yet those words sometimes are more harmful than than the broken bone.
Or should I say ‘my thoughts about those words’ are more harmful.
Many of us, myself included, find the prevalent thoughts are self-defeating. This young man, after studying art and working for several years was faced with self-defeating thoughts.
He didn’t allow those thoughts to take hold.
I call the self-defeating voices we play in our minds: Abstract Absolutes.
Abstract is defined as ‘existing in thoughts or as an idea, but not having a physical or concrete existence.’
Absolute refers to truth.
A general example would be this young man who could have said “I’ve lost my job, I am a failure, I have nothing, I am nothing”.
What abstract absolutes have you or a loved one created? How about ‘I just ruined dinner, I can’t cook, who am I fooling?’ or ‘I would try that recreational sport with the guys, but I am just no good and we would lose if I were on the team.’
I bet you can think of someone in your life who thinks along these lines.
There are a number of negative effects to abstract absolute thinking, such as:
· Low self-esteem
· Feeling inadequate or worthless
· No pleasure in life
What we think leads to how we feel and how we act; or as an ancient Hebrew proverb states: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is.”
It’s true. It’s not what we do, or who we are, it’s what we think that counts.
There is good news!! Our self-defeating, abstract absolute thinking patterns can be changed.
So, where do we begin?
There are only 3 steps to begin changing your life today.
This young man knew what to do.
Let’s briefly touch on each one.
First step: Recognize
I think the hardest part of this process is to recognize the faulty thinking. How do you recognize, admit, and accept that your thoughts are not healthy, they are not accurate?
Sometimes we are challenged by others around us. Other times we may find dissatisfaction in our lives.
No matter what triggers the process, once recognized it is time to face it.
Consider this experiment:
On a sheet of paper draw a line down the middle.
Now on the left side, at the top write COST OF HOLDING ON TO THE FAULTY BELIEF.
Write out the faulty belief you have recognized.
Once you Recognize the negative thinking and faced it, step 2 is to Replace it.
On the right side of the same paper: COST OF REPLACING THE FAULTY BELIEF
Cost of Holding On to the
Cost of Replacing the
Honestly look at the situation. Write out your more truthful thoughts. Ask someone you trust to help you.
What could I say instead of “I lost my job, I am nothing”. Perhaps
I could remind myself:
The company is downsizing, my work results were good.
I have lost jobs before and always found another.
Another replacement technique is “Treat Yourself as You Treat Others”.
I would not look you in the eye and say “you are worthless” so why would I talk to myself that way.
It is time to replace my thoughts with words that are true, that are encouraging, that will help me.
Now that you have RECOGNIZED and REPLACED the Abstract Absolute Thinking in your life, the 3rd step of the recovery process is REHEARSE
Henry Ford once said,
“If you think you can, if you think you can’t – either way, you are right.”
It would be wonderful if once we recognized and replaced a thought process, everything was fine. But life doesn’t work that way.
Rehearse regularly by doing these simple steps:
· Repeat your new thoughts to yourself as often as possible
· Hang up post it notes around to remind you of your new thoughts
· Have a friend, coach, or partner hold you accountable
· Feed your mind with success stories
· Surround yourself with people who think positive thoughts
· Teach others what you are learning
This young man didn’t take his ‘failure’ as an abstract absolute. He used it to start a creative company with a friend of his. After a few years that company went bankrupt. He still would not allow the abstract absolute thinking to take hold of his life.
Did I mention this man went on to create Mickey Mouse? Yes, he was Walt Disney.
Are you willing to look at your abstract absolutes honestly and take control of your thoughts.
You can change your Abstract Absolutes into Honest Absolute Truths with 3 steps:
It wont happen over night.
Changing the habits of a lifetime takes time.
Give yourself grace.
The only thing you can really change is yourself.
And that is an honest absolute truth.