Don't Let Negativity Sink Your Ship

Where you are today is based on the choices you made yesterday. Where you will be tomorrow is based on the choices you make today. Choose wisely.

All the water in the world can’t sink a ship unless gets it inside the ship. And all the doubts and difficulties, and all the conflicts and challenges, can’t sink a person until they get inside that person.

Granted, times are tough now, and based on all colossal mistakes our government leaders have made in the past several years, chances are very good that times will be tough in the future. That’s life. The only way to be successful in such a difficult environment is to…

1. Choose your beliefs carefully.

The reason is simple: “What you choose to believe is what you get.” If you choose to believe life is unfair, that you’ve gotten the short end of the stick, or people are out to get you, you will be filled with fear and bitterness. And the number of fearful, bitter people who have gone on to be successful is about zero.

If you want better results in life, at home, or on the job, you’ve got to quit whining about the economy, your customers, the weather, Congress, the President, or anything else. You’ve got to choose new and better beliefs. After all, that’s where all lasting change starts. In your head. Not in your behaviors.

If, on the other hand, you choose to believe you can hang in there, that you can make it through the tough times, that you can get out of debt, that you can find a way to make your business work, you’re going to see some positive changes. Your new empowering beliefs will get your mind churning, your emotions raging, and your hands working.

It’s no wonder that immigrants who come to America are FOUR times more likely to become millionaires than native-born Americans. And it’s not because these immigrants are smarter than native-born Americans. But their beliefs are very different.

Many immigrants came here believing this was the land of opportunity, that a person could become almost anything he or she wanted to become … if he or she worked for it … and so they went after that dream with a passion. By contrast, some native-born Americans have chosen to believe that life owes them a living and so they wait for the government or good fortune to take care of them instead of going after their dreams with an equal passion.

Bottom line? Want more success? Remember, “what you choose to believe is what you get.”

The first day of my “Journey to the Extraordinary” teaches you all about that. In fact, James Holden, a customer program manager at Westinghouse Electric, attended the Journey a few weeks ago, and he wrote to tell me and all of you “Tuesday Tip” readers: “What an enlightening experience! My eyes were opened to the power of people’s thoughts, not only on one’s self but everybody else in the workplace and at home.”

As you choose your beliefs carefully, you also need to…

2. Acknowledge your inner critic.

We’ve all got one. So don’t fool yourself into thinking that you don’t have one. You do.

Your inner critic is the accumulation of all the fears, doubts, worries, and limiting messages you’ve picked up over the years. Your inner critic is that voice inside you that gives you all the reasons you can’t be successful. And your inner critic is the negative voice that keeps you locked into failing, non-productive, unwanted behaviors year after year.

As author Judy Mackenzie puts it, “Its singular goal is to keep you safe — 100 percent safe and free from any pain. It will use any past failures or mishaps as evidence as to why you should not do that action, try a new approach, or even think a new thought. If you want to live in a cocoon and never change anything in your life, then your inner critic will be happy — but you won’t be.”

Of course, you may think, “What’s the big deal? So I have a few negative thoughts once in a while?” Well, it’s a really big deal. As James Allen, the author of “As A Man Thinketh,” a book that has become a classic throughout the ages, “Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results; bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results. This is but saying that nothing can come from corn but corn, nothing from nettles but nettles.”

Put another way, you’ll never get a positive result out of a negative thought. So acknowledge your inner critic and be aware of what it is doing to your life and your chances for success.

After all, your inner critic will often win over your rational mind. Take your New Year’s resolutions, for example. How many of them get put aside after the first seven days of starting them? Or talk to an ex-smoker who has been clean for a year or more. He’ll probably tell you how many times he tried to stop smoking and failed. Even though his rational mind told him the smoking was dangerous to his health and his pocketbook, his inner critic won out by telling him, “You don’t have to go through all this pain and misery. You deserve a break. You should treat yourself to a cigarette once in a while.”

Your inner critic will do just about anything to stop you from changing or achieving greater success. Sometimes it’s scary. And sometimes it’s just plain funny. As my consulting friend Terry Everson told me, “I was going to buy the book, ‘The Power of Positive Thinking.’ Then I thought, ‘What the heck? What good will that do?'”

Just remember, you need to…

3. Manage your inner critic.

You can’t allow your inner critic to have control because it will NEVER push you toward success. Your inner critic will NEVER give you positive messages such as: “Don’t try that; you’re likely to be successful … or … Don’t listen to that speaker or go to that class; you’ll move up in your company and have a better relationship with your partner.”

The inner critic is just that — highly critical. It is so afraid of change and so very much against success that it will keep sending you negative messages until you are totally immobilized … at least that’s what it will try to do. When you hear yourself thinking, “They’ll never promote you” or “You can’t possibly find a life partner,” that’s your inner critic expressing it’s fear of change. It’s trying to get you to back off and retreat.

Notice this: The inner critic is NOT looking for solutions. It’s looking for ways to keep you stuck where you’re at.

That’s what happened to the governor of New York in 1829, Martin van Buren. He wrote a letter to the President of the United States, saying, “The canal system of this country is being threatened by the spread of a new form of transportation known as ‘railroads’ … As you may well know, railroad carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by engines, which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed.”

One way to manage your inner critic and keep it under control is to muster up your courage. Have the courage to go boldly in the direction of your dreams. Refuse to be like so many people who think of their dreams and then instantly think of all reasons they can’t achieve them. Refuse to be like the majority of people who shoot themselves in the foot and then admire their marksmanship.

Finally, to be successful, you’ve got to…

4. Counteract your inner critic.

You could use the EXPOSURE method. Write all your critical, cynical, negative thoughts into a journal as they occur to you. Expose your inner critic to the scruples of daylight. Many times, the written word will show you how silly and unfounded those particular thoughts happen to be.

You could also use the TWO-COLUMN method. Divide a piece of paper into two columns. On the left side, write down all your inner critic thoughts and statements. In the right column, write an opposing positive statement.

For example, you may want to apply for a new job with a new company that is sixty minutes from your home. In your left-hand column, your inner critic may have you write down, “That’s way too far. I would have to get up forty minutes earlier than I do now and I hate mornings.” In your right-hand, positive, counteracting column you might write down, “This would allow me to take the train and not have to deal with traffic anymore, giving me the opportunity to read the books I haven’t had time to read.”

For every negative statement you come up with, you must create a positive one. The power of this exercise is that it will get you out of your old negative thinking habits and will give you some experience in creating new and better possibilities.

Just don’t be fooled or get too impatient. This exercise takes a lot of practice, as many of us have had years to perfect our negative, self-sabotaging thinking. But I encourage you to get in the habit of counteracting your negative thoughts each time you have one. If you stick with it, it gets easier and easier.

Be careful what you think. It’s one of the secrets of success in my program, “The Payoff Principle: How To Motivate Yourself To Achieve More Than Ever.” You really have everything you need … inside you … to have more success than ever before.

Action:  Write down two ways you stopped your inner critic this week.