Contain Your Fears, And Have The Courage To Act On Your Desires

The person who can honestly boast about himself doesn’t have to.

For the last several weeks you’ve been reading my “Tuesday Tips” on the importance of a positive attitude. It may sound like overkill to you — but I certainly hope not. Through all of my life experiences and all of my research, I truly am convinced that the right kind of attitude is the way you take your “Journey to the Extraordinary.”

Last week I gave you three check points, and I challenged you to take a look at yourself. I wanted you to know whether or not you had those three areas mastered, or if you needed to do some additional work on your attitude. Let’s look at a couple more checkpoints today.

=> CONTAINMENT: “I keep my focus on the positive outcomes I desire rather than the negative outcomes I fear.”

What do you tend to FOCUS on the most? Your answer can reveal a great deal about you, your personality, the quality of your life, and the results you’re getting.

You see, all the water in the ocean can’t sink a ship unless it gets inside. And all the negativity in the world can’t stop you from moving ahead unless it gets inside you. That’s how containment works. (In fact, make sure you check out chapter 3 in my new book, “PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success.” I tell you exactly how you can kill off any of the negativity that may be in you or trying to get inside you.

Terry Waite, who spent 1763 days as a hostage in Lebanon during the 1990’s, talked about that. He said, “To be in solitary confinement is not easy. I was helped by faith. I could say in the face of my captors, you have the power to touch my mind, the power to break my body, but MY SOUL IS NOT YOURS TO POSSESS.” Terry said that simple affirmation “enabled me to maintain hope, and if in situations of difficulty, you can maintain hope, you can survive.”

Terry Waite had mastered the art of CONTAINMENT. He kept his focus on the positive so the negativity of his captors couldn’t get inside him. And the same thing goes for you. You can’t focus on the negative outcomes you fear and expect to have a conquering, overcoming positive attitude.

I see it all too often when it comes to the issue of age and health. As some of you may know, I split my time between Minnesota and Florida, having an office and home in both locations. The population in Florida, of course, tends to be among the oldest in the U.S., but I do not find any particular correlation between age and health. More often than not, I see a correlation between health and attitude.

Some people think that because they are physically old, they must also be weak and beyond learning. But you don’t have to be anything of the kind! As Dr. Norman Vincent Peale used to say, “If you hold thoughts of age, you will age.” And he knew what he was talking about, for he himself maintained a full-time pastorate, continued his world-wide speaking schedule, and wrote book after book well into his healthy 90’s.

Dr. Peale went on to say, “The same thing applies to health. If, over a long period of time, you see yourself as sick, you will ultimately become sick. But if you visualize yourself as healthy, you will become so.”

You’ve got to practice CONTAINMENT. You can’t focus on the negative outcomes you fear. You can’t focus on the difficulties in your job, your relationships, your health, or anything else and expect to have a great deal of success.

In a very sad way, Karl Wallenda taught us that. Back in the 1960’s, the flying Wallendas were seen as the finest circus act in the world. They took the art of tightrope walking to the great extreme and the very dangerous. But Karl Wallenda loved it so much, in 1968 he said, “walking the tightrope is living. Everything else is working.”

His wife noted that never once in all his life, in all his career did Karl even think about falling. But in Puerto Rico, with his rope stretched between two skyscrapers, and with thousands of people watching, Karl fell to the pavement and his death.

His wife later said that for the last 3 months of his life, Karl had been concerned about only one thing — falling. He never thought of it before, but now that was all he thought about.

Karl did not understand that worry is negative goal setting. He did not understand that you will be drawn to the very thing that fills your mind. As Mrs. Wallenda later said, Karl put all his energy into falling rather than walking, and the minute he did that he was destined to fall.

So be very careful when you say you’re worried about your finances, your marriage, or whatever. You want to be careful that you don’t draw those negative outcomes towards you.

How effective are you at containment? Are you totally disciplined, or do you let the negative get to you once in a while? If it’s the latter, you need to read chapter 7, “Discipline: Get With It!” in my “PIVOT” book.

And the final checkpoint I want you to examine, at least for today is…

=> COURAGE: “I follow through even when I fear the outcome of a situation may not favor me.”

It’s easier, of course, to have a positive attitude when everything is going well and everything in the future seems to be going in the right direction. That doesn’t take any courage.

One way to check on the strength and genuineness of your positive attitude is to check out the size of your courage. Are you a mouse or a lion?

A lot of people act like scared little mice, worrying about this or fretting about that. They should study Chapter 8 my book “PIVOT: How One turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success.” I tell you how to throw worry out of your life once and for all.

In essence, fear is a pattern of thought that is quite the opposite of positive thinking. But you can DISPLACE YOUR DYSFUNCTIONAL PATTERNS OF THOUGHT AND REPLACE THEM WITH STRONGER, MORE COURAGEOUS PATTERNS OF THOUGHT. That was the approach taken by the Academy-Award winning actor, Rod Steiger. He often suffered with long bouts of clinical depression, and a reporter asked him how he dealt with it. Steiger paused, smiled slightly, and said, “I have two automobiles. The license plate on one says ‘Courage’ and on the other, ‘Keep Moving’.”

You can also overcome your fears and reinforce your courage by simply taking ACTION. If you simply try to avoid or evade your fears, if you try to write them or ignore them, they may haunt you forever. It works a great deal better if you just kill them off by taking some action. The comedic actress Lucille Ball knew that. She said, “One of the things I learned the hard way was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. KEEPING BUSY and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.” You must refuse to give in to them.

Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City, learned how important ACTION happened to be when he went to address 200 senior citizens in the Bronx. At one point, Koch told them, “A judge I helped elect was mugged recently. And do you know what he did? He called a press conference and said, ‘This mugging of me will in no way affect my decisions in matters of this kind.'” Immediately, an elderly lady got up in the back of the room and yelled, “Then mug him again!” The old lady obviously wanted to see a new attitude displayed in the judge who had been too soft on crime. And she wanted to see him take some ACTION.

Action:  Would you describe yourself as courageous? Would others? Or do you play it a bit too safe because your attitude is a bit too negative? Take a look at yourself. What’s one thing you could do to practice your courage and up your attitude?