“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
Back in my college days, I had a severe shortage of self-confidence. Just as I was reaching the age where most guys I knew were all puffed up on hubris and testosterone, I found myself turning into a shrinking violet. Yes, I was likeable. True, I had a lot of friends and was often the life of the party. I was an exceptional student and an above average leading man in our university’s theatre department. But it was all a facade. My self-confidence was extremely fragile thanks to my love affair with negative self-talk.
On the inside, I felt pretty worthless. I felt useless. I told myself that I was undesirable and unwanted. Even though I was a pretty attractive dude in my early 20’s, I felt horribly ugly.
Not unexpectedly, these negative thoughts spilled over into my college dating life. My fragile ego would be completely destroyed the moment I felt the slightest hint of rejection, perpetuating an even unhealthier self-image through increased negative self-talk. Here I was, taking risks and being extremely vulnerable on stage. However, in my personal life, I continued to shrink further into my negative thoughts and self-doubt.
Negative Thoughts Breed Negative Actions
I had talked myself into becoming the classic starving artist, content to revel in my martyrdom. Of course, it was all bullshit. Unfortunately, I had become so good at it that the negative self-talk had actually started to seep into my work life as well.
Then, on a rainy April morning it happened. After catching a CTA bus on my way to a big audition, I realized that I was having trouble breathing. I noticed that my pulse was racing, my palms were sweaty. What was this feeling? I had been nervous for auditions in the past, but never quit like this. Later on, I realized that I had talked myself right into a panic attack.
Immediately, I decided I wasn’t going to the audition. I quickly pulled the
rip bell cord and hurled myself out the bus door, landing on the corner of Clark and Irving Park. As I gazed up toward the gates of Graceland Cemetery, my pulse slowed and my breathing became regular again. It was ridiculous. It was defeatist. It was self-sabotage.
I had become what I was thinking about.
The Turning Point
As we mature, there comes a point in our lives when most of us decide that we really don’t care what other people think about us anymore. I’d like to say that there was a specific point in my life where it all turned around, but the reality is that it happened very slowly. Eventually, I started dating this wonderful, beautiful girl named Holly. At the time, I didn’t think I deserved her, but she seemed to like me a whole lot. I went back to school, started making more money, and grew up into the person that I have become today. Most importantly, I replaced my negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Now, I am who I am – take it or leave it.
You Become What You Think About
There is a great book by Earl Nightingale called “The Strangest Secret.” In it, Mr. Nightingale drives home the premise that you become what you think about. Through your thoughts and – thus – your actions, you find yourself exactly where you truly want to be. If you focus your mind completely on a accomplishing a specific goal, there is no way that you can not succeed. If you think and believe that you will be a great parent, you will become a wonderful parent. If you focus on becoming a doctor, you are sure to become a doctor. In the same token, if you focus on your failures, you will continue to fail.
In our own lives, we have employed this concept without really realizing it. Back in the early months of 2012, we decided that we were going to start a successful blog. Of course, we had our doubts. However, each time those doubts came, we simply brushed them aside and replaced them with positive, goal-oriented thoughts. We stayed focused on our goal, continued to take action, and realized our first goal when Holly was able to quit her job to become a full-time writer a year later.
What Does This Have To Do With Money?
Positive self-talk and goal-setting can help to improve your financial situation as well. Success doesn’t happen by chance. You have to plan for it. It starts by identifying and believing in your specific, concrete goal.
Write it down. Repeat it aloud to yourself several times a day. It is going to feel corny at first, and you’ll probably get all sorts of push back from your own poorly conditioned mind. Replace those negative thoughts with positive affirmations and keep moving. The more you focus your thoughts and your energy on your goal, the more that you will begin to believe it will happen.
Then, take decisive action. You see, belief without action is just a dream; belief supported by action becomes a goal. Keep in mind, half-hearted effort is simply not going to work. As Yoda would tell you, “Do or do not. There is no try.” You must really believe with all of your soul that it is going to happen. If you can do this, there is nothing that can stop you.
If you are broke, don’t use it a crutch or an excuse for inaction. Instead, focus your thoughts on becoming rich, then take steps to handle money in the same way a rich person would in order to make that happen for you. If you are in debt, don’t tell yourself, “I don’t want to be in debt.” Instead, create a positive goal statement like, “I will be debt-free in 12 months.” Then, start a budget and get on it. You can do it!!! Nobody can stop you but you!
Positive Affirmations: The Key to Success
These positive affirmations techniques are the keys to getting anything you want out of life. If you commit to them and believe in them, they really do work. Whatever your goal may be, stop wasting your energy by focusing on the negative. Use your energy on positive thoughts, instead. Stop thinking about being inadequate; become excellent. Don’t worry about failure; become a success. If you want to be a writer, an actor, an astronaut, or a gazillionaire, focus your thoughts on these things. You will not only believe that your goals are achievable, you will have no choice but to take action.
You will become exactly what you think about.
For more thoughts on work and life, check out these boss stories:
- 5 Keys to Financial Freedom
- How Much Money Is Enough?
- Quit Your Day Job: How to Start a Blog
- Quit Your Job: How to Know When It’s Time
- Getting Life Back Into Balance