“You suck.” “You’re a freak.” “You’re lame.” I used to believe everything people told me, especially when they told me about myself. Some people told me I was awesome (thanks Mom, thanks Geromy, YM leaders). Others told me I was a loser (classmates), or immature (teachers), or not good enough (coaches). Then some said I was unstoppable and deserve the best (thanks Emilie, Dr. H). While many more ignored my existence. I was lucky though – I was getting “mean girled” before Facebook and texts – as soon as I got home, it all stopped (and I gained a love of reading).
I still remember like it was yesterday, the day I decided that I am only going to believe what I want to believe.
The move to Yuma looked bad on paper. It was the summer before my senior year of high school and my Mom got a new job, our entire family was leaving the town and state (Boise, ID) I spent my entire life in. We had just finished summer football camp and things were looking good, I was expected to start both ways and was looking forward to having a great senior year with my one friend (Thanks Steve H.).
On the way down to Arizona our U-haul (driven by my older brother) and our family car, the geo metro (driven by me) were separated in Las Vegas, this was before our family had cell phones. It was my fault, as I was the lead vehicle and took a last second off-ramp. We kept driving and would stop every so often (Needles / Searchlight) calling a friend back home who was our safety checkpoint. During the time I was feeling horrible and worried I would never see half of my family again. The realization came that the only people that matter are those that care about you. No one else’s opinion, view or ideas really have a greater degree of importance. If the opinions of others don’t matter, then I am free to be who I want to be. I decided on that drive to always listen to the people that support me and tune out the things that do not help me. Eventually we met up about 6 hrs later in Yuma.
We got to Arizona right in time for school to start and I was motivated to help others and be the friend I wanted to have. I determined who I was, how I acted, and what I believed based on my internal thoughts – not on anything that was going on around me. It worked. Since I had confidence now in who I was, I was able to make friends, help others, and let myself be helped (Thanks Derek W., Reggie G., David M., Ben W., Jessica L., Mitch K., Cameron C., Lindsay, LeRyan L., Frederick L., George S., Edward S., David C., Oliver M., Kevin W., and so many others….).
Once the ideas/words of others only mattered when I let them, it seemed that everyone’s actions started to be positive and supportive. I let the idea carry me through college and my time in Hong Kong (that was difficult, but worth it and more fulfilling than anything else up until I became a husband and father). In my professional life it has been harder to stay so focused and not to let worry and self-doubt creep in, but when the bad thoughts creep in, I go back and remember that early August day in the summer of 2000 and things start to fall back into place.
What do you believe in?
Do you believe all the negativity you constantly hear? Do you believe the haters and the cynics? Do you believe your fears? What we believe determines our destiny. Our thoughts determine our reality. To change our reality, we must change our perception, we must change our reactions, and change our self-talk. We must keep our expectations high. We become what we habitually think about.
When you stop worrying about what others think of you and instead focus on the value you can bring to people, your life will change.
4 points to remember:
1. Believe in Your Intrinsic Value
You are important because you exist, that is enough to start with. You have ideas. You can accomplish things. You can help people.
“I think true success is intrinsic… It’s love. It’s kindness. It’s community.” – Tom Shadyac
2. Always Give More Value than You Receive
This will end up being a futile process as the more you give the more other people want to help and there are always more of them then there is of you. But try anyway.
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” – Lao Tzu
3. No More Excuses
Nothing is anyone’s fault. If you cannot control it, stop worrying about it. Focus on what you can control. Don’t create room for failure to be expected. Learn and grow. Don’t fail, adjust.
“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bull#*%t story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” – Jordan Belfort
4. Choose Gratitude
When you are thankful for what you have, you will get more. When you want less, you will always have enough. Gratitude unlocks the door to happiness.
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” – Denis Waitley
While the labeling theory is impactful and powerful; we can use it for good and at the same time decide not to use it when the labels do not reflect reality. We determine our future and create our reality by the thoughts we plant and the actions we take. Think positively and act correctly and you will find success.