You Are What You Believe

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Grow a healthier, better mindset about yourself, your role in life, and ultimately others around you.

Ever wonder why you tend to attract the worst kind of people to yourself? Ask yourself, “Who am I?” What do you see when you look at yourself? What do others say about you? Physical features aside, what words would you use to describe yourself to another person who’s never met you?

What others say to you influences your view of yourself. This in turn, influences every relationship, opportunity, and event that comes your way. Pay attention to those negative voices in your head.

I’ll show you how you can begin to effectively erase that negative tape recorder running through your mind in just a minute. For now, take a few minutes and write down those recurring negative thoughts because you’ll need them later.

How Words Influence Your Life
My mother always labeled me as stupid and of little value. I carried that in my head for most of my life. Although I rebelled against them outwardly, they grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let me go. No matter how hard I tried, I never measured up.

I barely completed my senior year of high school and then dropped out of college within my first year because I believed her words. Every time one of my bosses told me I was doing well, I would immediately discount it. Whenever someone complimented me, I instantly put myself down. When my manager at Sterns told me he was considering me for a promotion, I sabotaged myself by finding excuses not to go to work or falling short in my responsibilities. This became a recurring pattern in my life.

My mother enrolled me in secretarial school telling me there was no hope for anything else. I completed the program and worked as a secretary for ten years. In 1988, I took a job at a software company and it was there I met Tony.

Previous boyfriends were unfaithful and disrespectful towards me and so by this point, my late twenties, I was tired of the dating game. Tony was a high achiever and liked within the office. He had a great career ahead of him climbing to one of the top sales executives. We hit it off right away and before long were dating.

A type-A personality and Yale graduate, Tony seemed to have everything under control. Since I had failed many times and had little direction in my own life, his self-confidence was reassuring. During our first year of dating, he displayed his bad temper only once or twice. There were also hints of a cruel streak within him as he often found the misfortune and pain of others humorous. It bothered me that he was all about himself and could not acknowledge any imperfections.

Shortly before our wedding, I was having some serious doubts. My mother thought Tony was too good for me and warned me not to “mess this up.” Although he was not outwardly abusive toward me at that point in our relationship, there were signs of trouble.

Once again, my mother’s voice overrode my doubts. I couldn’t stand the thought of hearing my mother rant over and over of what a stupid idiot I was and how I embarrassed her should I cancel the wedding. I could clearly hear her screaming at me in my mind. That decision cost me dearly.

The thought of my mother’s disapproval and rage against me helped to keep me peg holed in the same spot for years. It took thirteen years of abuse in my marriage to finally convince my mother that Tony was not the saint she wanted him to be. Even during my divorce, I had to often remind her of the indisputable evidence of his frequent infidelity and abuse.

Stop! I Want to Get Off!
Learn to reject the negative voices in your head. I’m NOT talking schizophrenia here. We all suffer with self-putdowns to some extent or another. Some, more than others.

How did I do it? First, I had to forgive my mother. I don’t know if I actually told her of my forgiveness. That’s not critical. What was important was deliberately making that decision in my own heart. I had to be on guard not to let those feelings of anger and resentment take hold of me again.

Choosing to forgive someone who has hurt you, empowers you! As long as you hold unforgiveness towards someone, you willingly relinquish control to them. Through forgiveness, you take back control of your emotions, your self-esteem, and ultimately your life. Visualization helps with this process.

Picture yourself standing in front of the person who has hurt you holding a set of keys that belong to you. Tell them “I’m not going to let you hurt me or influence my emotions any longer. I’m taking back control!” See yourself, reach out, and take back those keys.

Breaking Cycles
Instead of focusing on hurtful words think of the positive qualities in yourself AND in the person who has hurt you. For instance, I chose to focus on the time my mother nursed me back to health when I was severely ill. I thought of her willing sacrifice to provide for her children and how she struggled working three jobs at one point when we almost lost our home.

The point is, breaking this cycle requires a conscious effort to erase the negative words running through your head. Listen to how you talk to yourself and what you say about yourself. Pay attention! Make a concerted effort to deliberately change that tape.

Make a New List
Previously I suggested you write down each negative word or phrase that runs through your mind. Now cross out each one and replace it with a positive statement. Say them out loud each and every time that negative tape starts playing.

I made a copy of my list and posted those positive words in front of my mirror and in the kitchen. Here are a few to get you started:

  • I am smart, talented, and unique
  • There is no one else who can replace me
  • I am attractive
  • There is more to me than meets the eye
  • I am prosperous
  • Good things come my way
  • I have all the talent I need to make it in this world
  • Good honest people are attracted to me
  • I am a good __________ (woman, man, wife, mother, father, sister, brother, friend)

Since I’ve become increasing aware of self-talk, I was surprised at how easily I would slip into putting myself down for the slightest thing. Words have power! They can build you up or tear you down. Become very aware of your thoughts and your self-talk. Pay attention! It will take months do undo years of negative words spoken to you.

Positive In = Positive Out
Here is a very good piece of advice. If your friends put you down and often use you as the brunt of the joke, it’s time to find new friends. Insecure people are often critical of others because it makes them feel better about themselves. Place a guard over your mouth. What are you saying to others? Are you criticizing towards them?

Make the decision to be a change agent … a positive voice in the crowd. If you want others to see the good in you, you’ll have to be the first to consistently recognize and acknowledge the good in others. That doesn’t mean put blinders on and continue letting others hurt you, that’s the other extreme.

Take some inventory. What are you surrounding yourself with? What kind of music are you listening too? Listen carefully to the lyrics; do they make you feel good about yourself, your life, people, and the world around you in general? Are the lyrics very negative towards women, towards life, highly focused on sex? Words have power! “Oh, but I don’t really listen to the lyrics.” Please don’t be naive. It’s a fact that even subtle subliminal messages are received by our brain and implanted in our thoughts affecting our emotions and worldview.

You ARE What You Believe
Your thoughts will influence your actions and your perceptions.

Wake up! Take inventory of the music you listen to, the books you read, the television shows and movies you are watching. Negative horror filled slasher movies have a direct impact on your psyche. These flicks are harmful to you. Like commercials and advertisement, they heavily influence and manipulate your emotions and thoughts. Don’t give others the leeway to influence you that way.

You Have Worth!
There is no such thing as a worthless human being. Each of us are part of the whole. Get out there; be choosey about your friends. Stay away from those who consistently put you down. I often tell my children, “there are a lot of weeds in the garden but sometimes you come across a genuine flower that makes you feel good. That is a good friend and they are worth hanging on to.” It’s better to have one or two good friends, than to surround yourself with a bunch of weeds.

You Can Do This!
No one else but you can do this. It is not beyond you. Ask God to help you forgive others.

There will be times you trip up. Resist the urge to put yourself down. It’s okay. Just get back up, dust yourself off, and start again. Be patient with yourself and forgive yourself.

A very good book that I found wonderfully encouraging and uplifting is Joel Olsteen’s Become a Better You. Find it at Wal-Mart and all major bookstores. Make a short list of encouraging statements about yourself and your future. Keep it with you at all times, in the car, in your wallet or purse. Recite it out loud often throughout the day. 


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