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The Devil You Know
By Michael Crow   Printer Friendly Version

Why is it that when we live in an age of prosperity and opportunity - in the richest society in history - that so few people enjoy true success and happiness in their lives?

It's a sad commentary that almost 80% of all people reaching retirement age wind up almost penniless, dependent upon others or the welfare system for support. Only 5% or less of the population achieve financial independence in their lifetimes - despite all those years of hard work. Many others never find personal happiness and satisfaction with their lives. In a land of plenty, why is it so hard for us sometimes to achieve the outcomes we desire and live a rewarding life? The tough truth is that often we are the only ones holding us back.

We mentally trip ourselves up - consciously or unconsciously or perhaps we blame others for our misfortune and end up frustrated and unhappy. Sometimes there's a bad habit, experience or negative tape from the past that repeats itself - and prevents us from reaching our potential.

What internal demons are you dealing with? What is it that is holding you back from your dreams? How can you tell if and when you are fighting yourself - and how do you turn the situation around?

My book, Intentional Identity: How To Get Everything You Want in Two Days or Less takes a close-up view of Individual Identity and the human psyche. Through a series of exercises, information and insights, this "owner's manual" shows readers how to uncover negative habit patterns, understand the motives behind self-limiting behaviors and make effective changes in their lives.

While we can find any number of excuses, the most common reason for not achieving our goals is lack of self-confidence and a low level of self-esteem or self-concept.

The self-concept is a combination of thoughts, experiences and beliefs formed over the course of our lives. If these are positive we will have a good opinion of our actions and abilities in particular areas. Sometimes though, our self-concept gets over-inflated and is not always based in reality.

Men for instance, have a high self-concept when it comes to navigation. Two men and a woman were meeting friends for a picnic on San Diego's Mission Bay - a large inland bay with ocean access. The location was Ski Beach. The driver, a local for many years who believed he knew the area well, drove to where he thought the party would be held. Finding no one there, he and the other male in the car began suggesting other areas to try, driving in and out of each parking lot, searching for familiar faces and vehicles. But there were many picnic areas around the bay and many groups enjoying the good weather. After about five minutes of frustration, the woman suggested they just stop and ask for Ski Beach - but the men would not ask for help. They both believed if they just kept trying, they would eventually find it. They drove around for ten more minutes arguing amongst themselves and with the woman telling them to just ASK. Eventually, it was the woman who saw two police officers on bicycles. As they went to drive by, she rolled down the window and shouted, "Can you tell us where Ski Beach is please?" It was only then that the driver stopped the car and learned that Ski Beach was the other side of the Bay entirely - miles from where they were. You can imagine who had the last laugh. Sometimes we just don't want to give up our paradigms!

Our level of performance is also based on our self-concept. If we want to raise our performance in sports, languages, at work, or any other activity, we first have to raise our self-concept or the belief we have of our ability or skill in that area. A low opinion or belief can lead to lack of confidence, which in turn leads to failing to achieve the desired outcome.

A healthy self-concept is the basis of all personal success.

Here's a quick self-concept check:

  1. What are your beliefs about yourself? Do you believe you are: Smart, quick, optimistic, loving, funny?
  2. What kind of boss, employee, spouse, child, friend are you? Loyal, patient, generous, hard working?
  3. What are you good at? Driving, reading, dancing, languages, writing, art, sports, etc.

There are no right or wrong answers here. What you believe, you are!

In studies, top Fortune 500 executives were asked what factors had contributed to their success. An impressive 94% said that attitude and positive thinking about their abilities and the future had helped them rise to the top of their profession. They all agreed that attitude and enthusiasm was more important than any Ivy League education.

Human beings are like living magnets - we radiate energy and attract into our lives the people and events in harmony with our goals and thoughts - positive or negative. If however, the devil we know is us and we are standing in our own way, by cognitively changing our thoughts and the pictures we form in our minds, we can begin to radiate positive thoughts instead of negative and create our own destiny. It is within our power to overcome negativity by accepting past challenges as lessons that raise our awareness and help us soar to new levels of fulfillment and achievement.

Choose your thoughts wisely, for as Earl Nightingale once said, "You become what you think about." Or to paraphrase: If you think you can, or if you think you can't - you're right!


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