“Don’t blame yourself or worry. Neither does a bit of good” – Janet Morris
Imagine a cute little puppy.
Now imagine that cute little puppy being beaten; being left alone in a dark room; not being fed, watered or washed; living in his own excrement.
Visualise that cute little puppy being saved by a rescue team and given to a good owner, who loves him dearly.
He’s spoilt… fed the best quality food, taken on long country walks and given the most comfortable bed to sleep in.
Every evening at 8 o’clock, the puppy is taken for a walk, but today is different. His owner doesn’t take him out.
As he heads for the door, the puppy looks up at him with sadness in his eyes: “please don’t leave me.”
The puppy has misbehaved!
It’s his fault he’s not going for a walk today!
He’s going back to his original owner, destined for another stint of beatings, starvation and loneliness!
Such a mistake will haunt him for the rest of his life!
This is the story of our family dog Sam.
One night my dad had to rush out, which meant no routine walk for Sam.
When Sam looked up at my dad, as he approached the door, the sadness in his eyes painted a picture…
“Why isn’t he taking me out?”
“Is it my fault?”
“Am I going to be beaten again?”
The truth is, it wasn’t Sam’s fault at all. He didn’t do anything to deserve missing a walk and he didn’t need to do anything to put it right, it was just unfortunate timing.
Can you relate?…
You get rejected; it’s your fault!
You get cheated on; you need to change!
You get ignored; you need to do something drastic to gain attention!
These are all perceptions that lead to self-blame, worry and ultimately terrible decisions; yet they’re almost always false perceptions!
You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve written the “our vision” page, thinking that millions of people aren’t visiting our website because it isn’t good enough, it needs to be better, funnier, shorter, more engaging, etc.
However, there is a way to deal with our own negative perceptions…
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” – Wayne Dyer
Have you ever noticed those dreaded blue ticks on WhatsApp when someone has seen your message but not responded?
Do you get angry with that person? Start questioning yourself? Or both?
“Why are they ignoring me?”
“Was it something I said?”
“That’s it, I’m done with them!”
Often our perceptions have no real bearing on actual events, so save yourself some grief and reframe your thoughts!
The phantom WhatsApp responder may have been caught by a friend, ran out of battery or dropped their phone down the loo (it does happen!).
And if it turns out that they did ignore you, that reflects on them, not you!
Just make sure that YOU (re)act in the right way, because that does reflect on you and that is all you can control…
“One of the happiest moments in life is when you find the courage to let go of what you can’t change.” – Unknown
Imagine if my dad never came back. Sam could either worry forever, living a miserable, heartbroken life; or celebrate the times they played together in the park, focus on the present moment and continue to enjoy every day as if it was his last!
Yes, grieve, it’s natural and often healthy; however, long-term grief can cause serious health issues.
The truth is that, at some point, life will deal you some bad cards, it’s how you play those cards that determines your happiness.
It’s not that positive, happy people don’t suffer pain and setbacks, it’s just that they frame their thoughts better to be more resilient and bounce back.
Similarly, people will treat you badly, whether it’s rejection, insults, bullying or just plain rudeness, but that reflects on their personality, not yours!
You are stronger, you are wiser, and your life will be much happier without those people in it!
You can even use such hostility as fuel to create an awesome life for yourself. For an example of this, check out David Goggins!
“I AM… two of the most powerful words; for what you put after them shapes your reality.” – Bevan Lee
We not only perceive events, we also perceive ourselves, classifying our character by “the way we are.”
I AM a cake lover.
I AM a drinker (alcohol drinker).
I AM tough.
The truth is, none of these are true!
Every moment of your life is based on an immediate decision. In each moment you get to choose how you act. No past or future event needs to have any baring.
Your brain wants you to act “as you are” because it’s safer and easier to retain energy.
By continually acting “as you are,” you’re cementing this identity in your own mind and characterising yourself to those around you.
This is really clear when work-colleagues buy each other Christmas presents… There’s often a drinker, a chocolate enthusiast and a coffee addict; and sometimes a mixture of all three.
Are you one of these people?
If you enjoy a drink, a bit of chocolate or a coffee, that’s fine, but do you want to be known as that person? Is being known as that person good for you?
I’ve experienced this first hand. I was the drinker. The party animal. The one who would always let loose on a weekend but, in fact, that wasn’t me at all.
It was a persona I created to be popular and fit-in. It was the perception I had of myself which spilled out into those around me.
I know it wasn’t me because I don’t drink at all now and I don’t miss it one bit. It was a façade I used to trick myself and those around me – I thought I was cool but, in reality, I was damaging my mind, body and soul.
Likewise, positive perceptions can be extremely powerful if used in the right way consistently:
I AM calm
I AM grateful
I AM enough
Whoever you want to be, positive affirmations (along with positive actions) will help get you there by rewiring your subconscious mind, making you more aware of who you are (who you want to be) and allowing you to be more open to opportunities.
The list of people who use positive affirmations to become “successful,” in their definition of the word, is eternal…
Mike Tyson, Denzel Washington, Connor McGregor, Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith, Jim Carrey, Wayne Dyer, Steve Harvey, etc.
Now I’m somewhat sceptical of the mysterious power that people associate with positive affirmations and The Law of Attraction; however, there is no doubt that such practices rewire your mind, enhance your discipline and open you up to embrace opportunities that you just wouldn’t be aware of otherwise.
In essence, they become your perception of yourself, which spills over into other peoples’ perceptions of you.
I am now the guy who leads a healthy life, works hard and builds strong relationships with those closest to me. I feel much happier leading this life than that of a party animal.
“Don’t let someone else’s opinion of you become your reality “– Les Brown
For most of this blog I have discussed how our own perceptions impact on our lives, but the same is true of overanalysing what people think of us too!
The truth is, most people are so self-centred they don’t care about what you did last weekend, they just care about themselves.
Some of the worst examples of how others’ perceptions negatively impact our mental, physical, spiritual and financial health can be found in the race to be fashionable and more attractive, a race that commerce never lets you finish!
Steroids, starvation, debt, bullying, discrimination, etc. It’s unfortunate that some people destroy their integrity to fit in to a generation’s perception of “attractive.”
One shocking instance is how African women bleach their skin in an attempt to look paler and therefore “sexier,” whilst English women burn themselves in an attempt to look darker and therefore “sexier.”
Both groups risk their health to fit into opposing definitions of sexy.
But which one is sexier?
Who decides? – The media? Celebrities? Your friends? Your family? – Are these groups really looking out for you?
Do you want them in your life if they are happy for you to damage your body to look more like the ideal?
Some of them may even want the best for you, but make sure that you decide!
It’s your life!
The more you can free yourself from perceptions, do your own thinking, surround yourself with good people and see things as they are (not worse than they are), the more fulfilled your life will become!
Trust me, I’ve lived it!
“No-one thought we were poor until someone came along and told us”
– Billy Connolly