Why People Get Stuck
Growth means change and change involves risks, stepping from the known to the unknown.
You are a remarkable person with extraordinary potential. Your brain contains one hundred billion cells, each connected to about twenty thousand other cells. This means that the possible thoughts you can think, positive or negative, are greater than the number of molecules in the known universe.
You are capable, right now, of living a wonderful life full of meaning and purpose, having a positive effect on numerous people.
But before you can realize your full potential for personal greatness, you need to understand who you are and how you got to where you are today.
There Is No Instruction Manual for Life, So Create Your Own!
Imagine that you had purchased the most sophisticated computer setup, plus accessories, that you could imagine. You brought it home, took it out of the box, and found to your amazement that there was no instruction manual. You had all this wonderful modern equipment that could perform many complicated tasks, but you did not know how to set it up or use it properly.
You are born very much the same. You come into the world with a marvelous mind, loaded with untapped talents and abilities, with the potential to do extraordinary things with your life. But you have no instruction manual. You have to figure it all out for yourself. And this usually takes years, if not an entire lifetime.
Have you ever wondered how you became the person you are today, with your special combination of thoughts, feelings, ideas, abilities, fears, hopes, ambitions, and aspirations?
The Magic of Changing Your Thinking
Thomas Edison once said, "There are three types of people: There are those who think. There are those who think they think. And then there are those who would rather die than think."
The great majority of people go through life without giving much thought to who they are and how they got to where they are today. As a result, life just happens to them, like a series of random events, with no explanations and few connections between them.
They take the first job that is offered to them, do what they are told, and then other people who offer them other jobs largely determine their career. They marry the person who happens to be standing there when they decide that they don't want to be single anymore. They spend their money on whatever appeals to them and invest in whatever somebody suggests to them. For the average person, life is like a bumper car at the carnival, continually being knocked in different directions, with very little control.
But the fact is that your world is largely created by the thoughts you think, and the things that you do as a result of your thinking. When you improve your thinking, you improve your actions and your results. When you change your thinking, you change your life.
A Word from Christina
A powerful example of how changing your thinking can change your life comes from an experience with a client of mine. A forty-year-old man came to me because he realized he was tired of not feeling happy with his life. He had a good relationship with his wife and two happy kids, a well-paying job, and a supportive group of family and friends.
He just felt like something was missing and he wasn't able to appreciate his situation. What I realized in working with him was that he had a general attitude of pessimism that was directly linked to his belief that he did not have control of his life. This thinking pattern was causing him to feel anxious and depressed about some unknown impending doom that he could not avoid. We broke his life down into separate parts and identified how and where he in fact was in control of his life.
I gave him exercises to reinforce this new belief. He began practicing making decisions and taking actions that demonstrated that he was in control. Over time he became more relaxed and easygoing. Eventually, his whole attitude changed completely. He became much more optimistic and positive about his life. The turning point for him was when he shifted his perception and chose to interpret things differently. He saw himself as being in control of his choices and decisions, and therefore in control of his future. His life changed completely.
The Mental Laws
There is a series of mental laws and principles that have been discovered and rediscovered throughout history. These laws largely explain who you are and everything that happens to you. As success authority Napoleon Hill wrote, "One of the great secrets in life is never attempt to violate natural laws and win."
The Law of Cause and Effect
This is often referred to as the iron law of the universe. It was first explained by Aristotle in 350 bc at his academy outside Athens, and was called the "Aristotelian principle of causality."
At a time when everyone believed that the lives of mortals were determined by the gods playing on Mount Olympus and were nothing but a series of random events, Aristotle instead proclaimed that we live in a universe governed by order. He said that everything happens for a reason. Just because we do not know the reason, that does not mean a reason does not exist.
The law of cause and effect says that for every effect or result in your life there is a cause or causes. Nothing happens by chance. Even the most random events can be traced back to specific causes or factors.
This law also says that if there is an effect that you desire, such as health, happiness, prosperity, or success, you can achieve that effect by creating the causes that bring them about. The easiest way to succeed greatly is to find someone else who has already achieved what you want to achieve and then do the same things this person did, over and over, until you get the same results.
Exercise: Write down the names of three people you admire, whether for the people they are or for something they have accomplished. What is the quality you admire most about each one of them? How can you develop those qualities in yourself?
Here's the first rule of the law of cause and effect: If you do what successful, happy people do, over and over, there is nothing that can stop you from eventually getting the same results that they do.
The second rule is this: If you don't do what successful, happy people do, nothing can help you.
The world is full of people who are doing what unhappy, unsuccessful, frustrated people do, and then they are amazed that they get the same results. But this is not a matter of accident, random chance, or bad luck. It is simply a matter of law.
If you eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, and take good care of your body, you will be fit and trim, and have high levels of energy. And if you don't, you won't. Everyone understands and agrees with this. It is obvious. It is simply a matter of cause and effect.
Your Thought Is Creative
The most important application of the law of cause and effect is this: Thoughts are causes, and conditions are effects.
Your thought is creative. You determine what happens to you by the thoughts you think, especially those thoughts that are charged with emotion, either positive or negative. Your thoughts are like the computer in a guided missile. They lead you unerringly to your target.
Here's a critical point: Once you have initiated the cause, the effect takes place by itself. Once you have pushed the rock down the hill, it rolls by itself, by the law of gravity. Once you have planted a positive or negative seed in your mind, either flowers or weeds will grow. You can control the cause, but the effect happens automatically, whether you want it to or not.
A Word from Christina
Often, when people first come to see me for therapy, I like to take time to explore a client's "garden" and find out which positive or negative thoughts, ideas, and beliefs have been planted and exist as a part of his or her personal story. Seeds are planted from the time a person is born, by others, and then they continue to be planted by us.
It is vital to identify what thoughts and ideas already exist so that the client can then decide which plants should remain in the garden and which should be removed because they are no longer true for him or her. From then on, the client's mental garden must be nurtured. It contains all the thoughts, ideas, and emotions that make up a person's inner life.
Think About Success
In a twenty-two-year study at the University of Pennsylvania, 350,000 people were interviewed to find out what they thought about most of the time. It turned out that the top 10 percent, the happiest and most successful of this group, thought about two things most of the time: what they wanted and how to get it. They thought about their goals and the actions they could take to achieve them.
Exercise: Decide upon something that you really want. Now imagine that you have already achieved it. Describe what it's like to have attained your goal. How would your life be different if you achieved something that is important to you?
The more that successful people thought about what they wanted and how to get it, the more ideas and insights came to them. These ideas motivated them to take even more actions, which moved them faster and faster toward their goals. When they achieved their goals, they felt happier, more motivated, and eager to set even bigger and more challenging goals. By thinking most of the time about what they wanted and how to get it, they put their lives into an upward spiral of success and achievement. And so can you.
The Foundation Principle
The foundation principle of all religions, philosophy, metaphysics, psychology, and success is this: You become what you think about most of the time.
When you think clear, definite thoughts about what you want, backed by the positive emotion of enthusiasm, you direct and channel your energies and your activities toward your goals.
If your mind is a jumble of thoughts, as it is for most people, you will think about what you want on some occasions, and what you don't want on others. You will think about what makes you happy and about what makes you unhappy. You will think about going to work and coming home. You will think about going to bed and getting up. You will think about fun and short-term excitement, watching television, listening to music, and socializing. Because you have no clear, specific goals, your life simply goes around in circles, sometimes for years. You eventually become what you think about, most of the time, for good or ill.
The Law of Belief
The law of belief says that whatever you believe with emotion becomes your reality. Your beliefs form a screen of prejudices through which you see your world. In other words, you do not see the world the way it is, but the way you are.
William James, the nineteenth-century Harvard University psychologist, said, "Belief creates the actual fact."
You always think and act based on your basic beliefs, either positive or negative. If you have positive, constructive beliefs, you will make good decisions, take correct actions, and get good results. If you have negative, fearful, or angry beliefs, you will take the wrong actions or no actions at all, and get negative results. This is simply a matter of law.
Exercise: Get a notebook and keep it with you throughout the day. Become aware of how you perceive situations. When faced with a decision, do you highlight the positives or consider the negatives first? Track these thought patterns and make a conscious effort to view things optimistically. Then track how you feel overall about your day. Make sure you write this down.
All Beliefs Are Learned
Fortunately, all beliefs are learned. Everything that you are convinced of today has been taught to you somehow and by someone. If you have positive, life-affirming beliefs, you will have a happy, healthy life. You will be popular and get along well with other people.
If you have negative, destructive beliefs, you will be doubtful, fearful, suspicious, negative, and in constant conflict with other people in your life.
The starting point of personal transformation is to question your self-limiting beliefs. Any beliefs you have that suggest you are limited in talent, ability, personality, or opportunity are usually not true. They are limitations that you have imposed upon yourself by believing in them. The minute you stop believing that you are limited in any way, your whole life opens up, like a sunrise.
A Word from Christina
I was recently working with a woman who would experience tremendous anxiety each time she anticipated having a conversation with a particular coworker. She claimed she felt small and intimidated by this coworker and had a hard time speaking up for what she needed or wanted in the presence of this other person.
I had her imagine herself feeling really small, insecure, and intimidated and then I asked her to associate those feelings with an animal. She chose a kitten because they are often shy and timid. I then asked her to think of a time when she felt grounded, confident, and powerful. I asked her to associate those feelings with an animal. She chose a tiger because tigers are powerful and dangerous. I then had her practice imagining herself as a kitten and then a tiger. We did this several times until she felt she could easily connect to the feelings she had associated with each animal. She began practicing being her tiger self at work and found that the anxiety of talking with her coworker completely went away.
I have conducted this particular exercise with several clients, and every time the client came back to me with a success story. It seems unusual, but taking your self-limiting beliefs and creating a concrete object or animal to represent them allows you to externalize them and become more aware of what mind-set you are operating from. Being able to identify when you are feeling insecure and consciously shift yourself to come from a confident, empowered place gives you a sense of control and boosts your self-esteem.
Exercise: What are three things that you want to do but think you can't do? Why can't you do them? Who tells you that you can't do those things? Who believes you can? Have you ever tried to do these things, or are you just assuming you can't?
Copyright © 2017 by Brian Tracy. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.