Someone left a rather moving comment on one of my articles and I thought I would share it along with my reply. For most of us life has its ups and downs, and that is perfectly normal. For some however, the downside seems to dominate. A history of disappointment and failure can severely damage a person’s perspective and perception of life in general.
The comment was from a man named John on an article called “Is There Power in Failure?” John’s experience might seem extraordinary, but I can assure you it is not all that uncommon. His life experience has lead him to adopt some deeply rooted limiting beliefs and left him feeling like a total failure.
In an effort to help John, and anyone harboring limiting beliefs (which means pretty much everyone), I wanted to address this situation. Below, John tells his story and my reply follows.
John’s comment: “I really am a failure. I don’t want to be but, it’s true. I was born dead; in retrospect it seems life was trying to get me out of the way from the start. I was physically and mentally abused as a child, severely. I tried to forget about it but now it seems my dad knew what I was all those years ago. I tried many jobs but nothing fit, I tried to go to college but couldn’t get the money, even though I graduated #1 in high school. I tried the military; only the marines would take me. At the time, the air force wanted officers and I hadn’t been to college.
The army had a two year waiting list and I was living on the streets. I was too big for the Navy; I’m not fat at all, my shoulders are really wide. I’m built weird. In the Marines I fell from 15 feet and landed on something that fractured my back. Back to the streets for me. That was 25 years ago. Many jobs later I am now disabled from disease. I could never do anything right in life. You can’t say that I gave up; I just never had a success.”
My reply: Sounds like a real struggle my friend and I feel for you, but it is not a helpless situation, I promise you. Whether you realize it or not, our personal beliefs play a huge role in how we view our own life. Your estimation of your successes and failures will depend entirely on the framework of your personal belief system. If our efforts in the past have not produced the results we intended then several failed attempts can combine to form a limiting belief system.
Is there a way to change an unwanted belief system? Yes and here’s why; while personal experiences contribute to our beliefs, we need to keep in mind that there is always more than one way to interpret any situation. We have the ability to decide what value we will assign to any experience in our life. Each of us has the capacity to view even a negative experience as something valuable.
People often develop limiting beliefs because in the past they have been unable to achieve the results they wanted. When past efforts have led to pain instead of pleasure, it is easy to conclude that further efforts will just lead to more pain. This type of mindset creates a negative reinforcement loop. With each painful experience, fear increases, commitment decreases, and self-esteem is further eroded. Consequently, a lack of commitment produces disappointing results that reinforce the limiting belief.
When this occurs in more than one area of our life, there is a danger that we may start viewing ourselves as destined to fail. Such a belief pattern is based on an exaggerated emotional reaction to the pain of disappointment.
Chapter 6 of my book TRUE SELF is all about changing these limiting belief systems and replacing them with empowering ones. If you truly want to break this cycle of failure I urge you to get the book and work your way through all of the exercises in the first 6 chapters.
Just in case you are wondering, the rest of the book is designed to move you progressively toward the achievement of success in every area of your life. Once you understand what it takes to succeed you will be able to apply these strategies and radically increase your results. With repetition, your successes will form a sound foundation for a new and empowering set of personal beliefs.
Things may appear hopeless right now, and it’s easy to understand why you might feel that way. But please believe me when I say that you are not a failure and I can prove it, if you will allow me. With the right knowledge and a little effort you can turn this lifelong cycle around and completely transform your life.
What kind of beliefs do you have?
The following are excerpts from chapter 6 of 7 of TRUE SELF:
Your beliefs form the very core of who you are as a person. They determine your level of self-esteem and your quality of life in general. The way you see the world and the way you see yourself in that world has everything to do with what you believe.
Simply put, beliefs can be your greatest asset or worst liability.
A belief system is a structured process by which we evaluate everything in our lives. We develop our own personal belief system based on how we interpret the world around us according to our observations and experiences.
There are two major components that contribute to your personal beliefs, an emotional component and a logical component. In some cases, a belief may start out much like a theory where assumptions are made based on logical observations and deductions. In other cases it may grow out of an emotional viewpoint that seems to be supported by logic.
The blending of these two major components forms the foundation of our personal belief system. We employ these beliefs as we try to make sense out of the things going on around us. We also use them to form assumptions about probable future results. Once established, beliefs exert a powerful influence on our ability to achieve success in life.
Belief systems can be empowering or disabling. They can be built on optimism or pessimism. Our beliefs determine what we think we are capable of, or not capable of.
We create our own belief systems based on the conclusions we draw from the experiences we have and the results we produce.
This is the primary reason why successful people can continue to be successful even in the face of overwhelming odds. When your efforts produce a desired result, you record it emotionally as a successful experience. When you combine several of these positive experiences you establish a pattern, a pattern of success.
Once you have established a pattern of success, you develop the emotional viewpoint of a successful person. This becomes your belief system. Because your actions have produced positive results in the past, you have every reason to believe that they will produce successful results in the future. This is an empowering belief system that will fill you with optimism and the courage to take on new challenges with confidence.
The bottom line is this: Your world will reflect your beliefs in the experiences you have. Our beliefs act like a powerful magnet to attract supporting experiences into our lives. Once you alter your beliefs, your experiences will change correspondingly. By controlling your beliefs you control your reality.
What are your thoughts about this?
The lines are open!