Scanning through some old magazines in the house the other day, I found an article that caught my attention when I saw the name Norman Vincent Peale being mentioned. It refers to a story being told by him.
The well known Norman Vincent Peale tells how one day he passed by a tattoo shop in Hong Kong. As he passed by he saw that there were every possible example of tattoos you could think of displayed in the window.
He was so amazed that he went inside and asked the Chinese tattoo artist whether there were really any people who would have the words “Born to lose” tattooed onto their body?
The answer was a definite “yes, there are many”. Peale couldn’t believe his own ears and asked how any person in his right mind would have those words tattooed onto his/her body?
The Chinese gentlemen gently tapped him on his forehead and answered in broken English: “Before tattoo on body, tattoo on mind.”
There are more truth to those words than what we would care to imagine. Who you think you are, has a direct influence on who you are indeed. You are what you think. If you think you are a loser, you’ll live like one. If you believe bad things about yourself, you are going to start saying bad things about yourself. This is the start of an evil cycle. Because the more you say these things, the more you believe it. Believing these things, you start acting accordingly, which will result in negative outcomes.
If you start a new exercise program and you say things like “this will not work for me, nothing ever works for me”, chances are that you won’t be able to stay on that exercise routine for long. You’ll find any excuse to quit the program, and as soon as you do you will say (and believe) that it didn’t work anyway, just like everything else. You’ll take this as confirmation of what you believe to be true. If you believe you are working in a negative environment and you keep saying it, you will start believing it, and that is how you will experience it. Not necessarily because it is so, but you are focused on everything that is negative. Everything positive will pass you by and you wouldn’t even notice it.
“I’ve Been There, Got The T-Shirt”
I’ve been through the mill myself. I’ve been there, got the T-shirt! After many years of teaching martial arts for a living, I decided to settle down in a normal job. The economy wasn’t doing too well, and martial arts classes weren’t really a necessity for many people, but more of a recreational activity or obviously – sports. This was in the year 2000 and I thought it is time to find better security. I found employment with a company and worked myself up into a management position by 2003. I then got transferred from Johannesburg to Durban. Just as I thought I could settle down and enjoy the security of a fixed income, I got retrenched early in 2004.
This was the start of a roller coaster ride over many years. I would try anything I could put my hands to. It didn’t take too long to realize that it is easy to get exploited when people know you are hard-up for money to make a living. Eventually I ended up finding it extremely hard to trust anybody, and getting doubtful even when people would offer any form of help or even employment. “Is it just a matter of time before I get taken for a ride again?”…..I would often ask myself. I started to always expect something bad to happen. Even when something good happened, I started thinking “okay, I suppose the next bad thing must be just around the corner again!”
Needless to say, this also was not assisting me in any way to maintain a good self image. Eventually I started feeling like a real loser. It felt like nothing I ever did, could be successful.
These emotions can become so overwhelming that you even forget about the successes you have achieved before.
My Wake-up Call.
I recall visiting my nephew one day. He is very successful in business and although he’s somewhat younger than me, I’ve got a great deal of respect for his knowledge concerning any business matters and business principles.
I mentioned to him that I didn’t know what to do anymore. My words to him was; “It’s like people see me coming……as if its written all over my forehead….’I’m hard-up, take me for a ride’!” I said. The answer I got was totally the opposite from what I’ve expected. “It’s true” he said, “it is written all over your forehead.”
For a moment I just stood there. I didn’t know what to say and I also didn’t really understood exactly what he meant. I think he must have seen the confusion on my face as he started talking to me.
He told me that he was fighting a similar battle years before and said those exact same words to another very successful businessman. Apparently he got the same answer as what I have just received. But then he started explaining about how your thoughts and emotions affect your whole attitude, your body language and facial expressions. That is equal to having your real thoughts written all over your forehead.
These are picked up (often even unconsciously) by other people. Different people will respond in different ways. Some will sympathize and others will…….well…….they will see you coming (if you know what I mean).
Through the years I have learned one thing, and that is perseverance. No matter how bad things would get, I just refuse to give up. But after many setbacks, you do lose self-confidence and self-respect. You start doubting yourself and feel inferior to other people (especially if you know they are successful). All of this is going on in your mind, and it shows in your body language.
Nobody Said Its Going To Be Easy
Trying to get this under control and win over it, is a hard battle to fight, and when you start drawing away from people, trying to get over it alone, it becomes even harder. After being drawn into this mindset over time, you don’t just get up one day; decide to be positive and full of self-confidence and whallah!!…..everything is great again. No, unfortunately it’s not that easy.
Being desperate, I started searching for ways to earn money online, hoping that I wouldn’t have to deal directly with any people again. It was during one of these searches late last year (2014) that I met Maria King. She invited me to join a group of people who was busy doing a course called The Compass for Life course, as presented by The Reinvention University. To be honest, I didn’t really expect too much but I thought “what the heck, I suppose I can’t really lose anything”. It wasn’t too long before Larry Lewis (the creator of the course) invited me to get more involved with discussions in a group called the beta group. They have formed a private Facebook group and it was expected of me to take part in discussions and give my input to make a contribution to the group.
At this point, just the idea of writing a post of any kind in this group was nerve wrecking beyond your wildest imagination. Well, it was now or never. I knew I had to crawl out of my shell sometime……it might as well be now. I thought about my conversation with my nephew, and decided to just go for it. I didn’t make any mention about my situation or setbacks over the last number of years. I just got right in there and started taking part in discussions.
I couldn’t believe what happened next. I started getting very positive feedback on many of the posts I made. Soon I started thinking about a dream I’ve had since a very young age. I always wanted to express myself by writing. At first it felt silly to make this known in public, but I gathered enough courage from somewhere and started talking about it. To my own amazement, everybody started to encourage me.
I have become friends with two members of the group, Andy Downing and Andrew Loader. They have invited me to join them in daily discussions, where we can share our goals and the progress we are making. Taking these actions leave no room for any negative thoughts.
Did I see any change since I have changed my thinking? You bet. The proof is in the fact that you are reading this very post.
So, Who Do You Think You Are?
I would like to end this post with another thought taken from the magazine article I have mentioned in the beginning. If I offer to give you a $100.00 bill, you will surely take it. If I take the same $100.00 bill, crumble it up and step on it a few times, you would still take it, because the value is still the same. Remember, you don’t lose any value either due to any of the stuff you have to go through. You are unique and you are valuable as a human being. Lift up your head, face the world, and be the best you that you can be.
The conclusion I come too is this: in pretty much the same way that it is not easy to remove a tattoo from your body, it might not be easy to remove that tattoo from your mind, but it is do-able. Start developing the habit of thinking positive things about yourself, and a much better tattoo will become visible to the world around you.