By Tim Connor
This might, at first seem like a silly question – and probably one you have never asked yourself. I know I never have and I have written entire manuals that are nothing but page after page of questions – go figure.
How about another quickie – why is this question important?
Without appearing to be looking for either praise or pity let me share what this question did for me the first time someone asked it of me. By the way, this person died over 100 years ago but is one of my mentors. When I was recently re-reading one of his books after a few years this question just hit me between the eyes like a baseball bat. Trust me – I never saw it coming, but when I put the book down and thought about it seriously – both tears and laughter filled my head for a long time.
You might be asking at this point – why – this question isn’t that big of a deal. OK, well let me ask you a few more and then you can decide whether you want to finish this article or not.
Have any regrets in life?
Ever disappointed anyone? Yourself?
Ever felt abandoned or betrayed by someone?
Ever felt stuck? Lost? Confused?
Ever asked yourself – what is this or why did this happen to me?
Ever felt like you got something negative you didn’t deserve?
I could go on but if all of your answers to the above were no – well – have a nice day.
First – notice that I didn’t use the words – describe yourself, defend yourself, define yourself, explain yourself or promote yourself. How do you feel about yourself – in other words – how and why do you – like, approve, love, accept, validate and justify yourself? Answer these questions in writing – one at a time – take a few minutes and when you have finished the exercise come back and finish the article.
Did you do the exercise? Let me guess – you just kept reading! Oh well – here’s the rest of the article, hopefully it will have value for you even though you didn’t do your homework.
There are many contributors to how and why we feel about ourselves from time to time and just a few are – self-esteem, fears caused by either real or imaginary emotional or physical threats, the need for others’ approval, the desire to be in control of all areas of our life, the desire to avoid adversity, challenges or even failure and the need for validation and appreciation.
If we handle these or get the ones we need or value as needed on schedule and from the sources, we feel necessary guess what – we will generally feel great about ourselves and our life. However, if we fail to get any or the ones we feel vital we will tend to let the absence of these have a negative influence on our self-perception and thus our feelings about how our life is, is going or how it might be in the future.
Keep in mind all of these self-emotions, reactions and responses are caused by expectations and often if not, always these expectations are not grounded in reality but controlled by ego needs, or insecurities caused by any number of situations, people or circumstances in our past. The real issue is – how do these feelings contribute to the quality of our life? It’s really simple but not easy – negative stuff tends to make us feel negative and therefore think negative stuff and these tend to create negative circumstances that drive negative emotions and feelings. The opposite is true – positive stuff tends to make us feel positive and positive feelings generally create positive outcomes. Neither of these are absolutes – as I said – they tend to.
So, the real question is – how can we learn to always feel good about ourselves no matter what is going on in our life, who is in it and/or what is missing etc.?
One of the topics I discuss in some of my seminars is – are you an inside-out person or an outside-in person. Let me explain.
Outside-in people turn over the quality or the responsibility of their lives and how they react, accept, deal with etc. to outside circumstances or people i.e. the weather, traffic, long lines, unpleasant people, poor service, flat tires – you name it – if it happens to them they go into blame mode, whine mode, complain mode, anger mode- whatever.
Inside-out people just accept what is happening whether they like it or not, feel they deserve it not and deal with it. They don’t scream, yell, panic, blame – whatever – they just wait, fix the tire etc. and move on.
So, before we wrap this up let me share a few ideas on how to better manage life’s circumstances that contribute to how we feel about ourselves. I call these my Life “Mantras.” In no special order here are just a few of them; If you want the whole list let me know – it’s on me.
-If it happens I’ll get excited if it doesn’t I won’t be disappointed.
-I was not put on the earth for your approval.
-I can’t control much but IK can control me.
-If I’m thinking it it’s impacting me.
-Every day I can learn something important if I’m open and willing.
-We are here for a little while and then we are gone forever.
-I am on God’s schedule not mine.
-Every day is a gift.
-It is what it is.
-My life does not revolve around yours.
-Failure, adversity and trials are necessary to grow and get better and wiser.
-Gratitude and appreciation of others are more important than selfies.
-We’re born then we die – everything in between is trivia.
-If you don’t ask you will never know.
-It’s not over till it’s over.
-My age is none of my business.
-What can you lose that you don’t really need.
-Our dreams should be better than our memories.
-If you always tell the truth you don’t have to remember what you said.
Got any of your own that you use to help you deal with issues, people, challenges in a positive way so that they don’t have a negative impact on your day, life, career, relationships etc.?