Let’s begin by observing that less than half of us in America made New Year’s resolutions this year and of those who made them, another half will give up by June.
So let’s look at resolutions and goals in a different way in a way that actually works.
A new look at your self-images.
Let’s first consider our self-images, for it is our self-images we want to change when we create goals for ourselves. Notice I say self-images in the plural sense; you do not have just one self-image, you have many. In fact, you have a self-image for every ability, aptitude, skill, capability, talent, gift, knack, proficiency, relationship and habit you have. When we create personal goals for ourselves, it is these we want to change.
Now, your self-images are learned; you were not born with them. You were born with certain natural dispositions. For example, I was born a natural teacher. When I was a kid, I used to line up rocks in my back yard and pretend I was teaching them. (I was a weird kid!)
So how are our self-images learned? They are learned from our self-talk. In other words, they are based on what we have said about ourselves in the past and what we are saying to ourselves about ourselves right now! This means that as long as we are still talking to ourselves, we are still creating or changing our self-images.
This leads us to two inferences:
1.) Our self-images are hard-wired into our brains, which means we can’t physiologically remove them (except through a lobotomy).
2.) They are unbelievably hard to change, for some of them have been entangled in our brain all our lives and to change them means we must first psychologically untangle them. (This is the reason that you get 120 million hits when you Google ‘self-help.’)
The biggest challenge
However, there is an even greater challenge. Our brains (which contain all of our self-images) hate change. Psychologists regard our self-images as our comfort zone and our brain’s job is to keep us safe in our comfort zone. When we want to change, often our brain will respond, “But look at what happened last time!” “No, change is too hard.” “Let’s just stay the way we are. It’s safer!”
This is the reason that habits are so hard to break and goals are so difficult to meet.
Some exciting news about your brain
However, there is a wonderful characteristic of our brains we can use. While our brains hate to change, they love to create!
A new way of thinking!
So, if we cannot remove our self-images and it is impossibly difficult to change them, what can we do?
WE CAN REPLACE THEM!
Can we do that? Uh…yah!
So here is some exciting news (and I get so excited when I am sharing this with my audiences that I begin to shake). Since our self-images are learned and they are based on our self-talk, we can create new self-images by simply changing our self-talk!
For instance, when people tell me that they are having a really hard time breaking a habit, I tell them to quit trying. Before they protest, I tell them that rather than trying to break their habit; replace it with a new one by changing their self-talk!
How do we change our self-talk?
So how do we change our self-talk; by simply choosing to do so. So rather than saying, “I’m so stupid for thinking that…or saying that…or doing that” we can also say, “That wasn’t the smartest thing to think or say or do…but it doesn’t mean I’m a failure. It simply means I failed. The next time, I’ll think or say or do it differently!” You can actually choose to change what to say to yourself about yourself. It is up to you.
Thomas Edison was asked how it felt to fail 999 times searching for the filament of a light bulb. He said, “I did NOT fail 999 times! I simply found 999 ways that didn’t work!”
And…guess what! Your brain accepts what you tell yourself about yourself without question! No arguments! So when you say, “No way! I can’t do that!” our minds simply say, “OK…you can’t!” and then blocks out ways for us to do it. However, if we say, “Absolutely…I know I can do that!” the brain not only accepts that just as quickly, it then helps us find a way to do it, and then gives you the energy to get it done!
Henry Ford said it so well. “When you say you can, or you cannot, you’re usually right!”
So…a new way of thinking is to immediately throw away any notions that we are too old, or too young, or too uneducated, or too stuck in our ways to grow and learn and change. We can grow and change as much as we really want to!
Steven Campbell is the author of “Making Your Mind Magnificent” and conducts “The Winners Circle” every two months at Sonoma Mountain Village in RP. Contact Steven at 480-5007 or go his website at stevenrcampbell.com to ask about his one-day free monthly seminar.