Your “Self-Thermostat”

Posted: May 5, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Have you ever wondered how sometimes it feels like no matter how confident you are in accomplishing a task, you worry about how others are going to view you? Or maybe no matter how hard you work, the rewards always seem to limit themselves?

I have always been a very confident person. Always up for a challenge, there has never been a goal I haven’t given it my all to go after. Granted, I would be lying if I said that I’ve accomplished every single goal I’ve ever set in my life, but what I’m saying is that I’ve always been a go-getter, prove me wrong personality.

So if that has been my mentality ever since I can remember, why have my results always been limited? If I knew that I worked harder than I ever had at work, why was that never reflected in my income?

In the last 19 months or so of my life, I’ve been committed to figuring out why my results haven’t been what I feel like they should have been. Don’t get me wrong, I let go of any regret, resentment, anger, sadness, or any other emotion based on the past a LONG time ago. But what I felt like I needed to do is understand what my thoughts were in the past that led to my feelings, that led to my actions, that led to what was happening in my outer world. If I want to change what was going on in my outer world, I needed to change my actions that stem from my emotions and the thoughts that lead to those emotions. I have had to take a long, hard look at myself in the mirror. Why did I never make it past the “B” team in little league? Why did I go to college for three years only to stray away and NEVER get my degree? Why did I always seem to blow my money as soon as it came in? Why didn’t others ever take me seriously?

What I’ve found is that our outer world is the result of three things – our self-esteem, our self-image, and our self-worth. The combination of these three determines not only what we accomplish, but how likely others are more or less apt to follow you and be behind you and your accomplishments, as well as your rewards for your accomplishments. Now, it sounds pretty cut and dry, doesn’t it? I mean, when I first looked at this evaluation, myself – much like anyone else out there – would probably say the same thing I did. “I don’t need to question my self-esteem or anything else! I know I have high self-esteem, I don’t care what people think of me, and I’m definitely worth every single bit I get.” But for the sake of committing to improve, bare with me and hear me out. Because if only ONE of these areas are lacking, it reflects in the results you realize.

Self-EsteemHow I feel about myself. Am I confident in anything and everything I do? Sure, if I’ve been doing any activity for an extended period of time, I become more and more confident about accomplishing that task and doing it very well. But what about trying something new? Do I tackle a task head on or do I tend to over-analyze all of the possible negative outcomes that could happen if done poorly? People with a high self esteem tend to not only do things well, but they tend to not hesitate when trying new things. People with low self-esteem will fail, or not try at all because they fear that they will either not do them well or need to know every possible outcome to prepare themselves when they finally do it. This “fear” is like an anchor! How can you move forward and accomplish MORE if you are anchored right where you are? Life begins at the end of your comfort zone, the only way to move forward is to overcome the fear related to trying something new. Don’t overanalyze. Don’t feel like you need to know all of the information before you act. Don’t doubt your abilities. Don’t let fear hold you back.

1991 West Side “B” Team (I’m the tall twig in the center of the back row)

I remember playing little league baseball. If any of my friends are reading this who played baseball with me growing up, I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of this story. Sure, I made a hell of a lot of great plays in my times as a third baseman for the West Side Little League “B” Team. Most of the time I wasn’t afraid to get my bigger than average frame in front of a drive down the line or a shot right at my feet. But one particular game, we were up by 1 run and the bases were loaded against Hazel Park. My friend Brian was pitching and I was at my usual third base. There was one out, and a base hit to the outfield would tie the game. Top of the seventh. I began to analyze every single situation of what my reaction should be to a hit, which if you ask ANY baseball player, is a pretty normal activity between batters. It’s wanting to make the right move in the right situation.

“Ok, if its a dabbler down the my line I’ll charge and throw it to home. If its hit more on a line drive near the base i’ll step on third and either go home with it or to first. If it’s to my left, I’ll go to second so we can turn a double play.”

All of these thoughts rushed through my mind. Sure, reading this, it sounds like I was a confident little seventh grader who would undoubtedly make the play, whatever it happened to be. But then I thought, “Man, it’s really on the line here. What if I DON’T make the play? What if I screw this up?”

The ball wasn’t hit to the left of me, it wasn’t hit to the right of me. It wasn’t a little dabbler that I would have to charge and rush to make the play. It was hit RIGHT AT ME. Not on a rope, either. A routine ground ball. I could do anything I wanted to with that ball. Step on third and toss it to first; get it to second and let Josh turn the double play over to first himself, tag the runner and THEN throw it to second….ANYTHING! The single second that that routine ground ball took to get to me seemed an eternity. I panicked. And you guessed it. It hit the heel of my glove, rolled up to my chest, nipped my chin, and I looked like a fumbling fool trying to gather up that little piece of leather and stitches. In the time that it took me to finally get the ball in my glove, the batter had already reached first base, all other runners were safe, and a run had scored – tieing the game. I remember being SO mad at my inability to field that ground ball – which ultimately stemmed from my own doubt in being able to make that play – that I immediately SPIKED the ball SO hard that it bounced off the dirt into the air what seemed to be about 20 feet high. High enough for the winning run to score from third. GAME OVER.

The moral of the story is that what you conceive in your inner world is realized in your outer world. If you are not confident in your own abilities in your inner world, your outer world is reflected by that. If you doubt yourself, tasks will never be accomplished to the degree you wish them to. Try something new, and try it TRUSTING yourself that it will turn out not just okay, but good! You may just surprise yourself.

Self-ImageHow I feel about how you feel about me. Ever taken a public speaking course? Why does everyone absolutely DREAD public speaking? People will always say the same answer – I just hate speaking in front of large groups. Why is that? It’s because people fear that others’ reactions, no matter how confident we are on our knowledge about any certain subject that we are speaking about, will be not satisfactory. We start to doubt ourselves and our abilities, but more so, if people will laugh at us, not pay attention to us, or most importantly – say that we didn’t do a good job. The person with a low self-image has anxiety about everything the public can see about you and starts to panic with random thoughts. Is my zipper down?” “Is my hair messed up?” “Do people not trust me?” “Will more successful people than I sense that I’m not confident?” “Oh, I better not ask that successful person for their opinion because they will think that my idea is stupid.” A low self-image in our adult years is sometimes the result of accumulated criticisms one has received over the years as a child or adolescent. We look at people more successful than us or look at people who have authority in our families and take either a negative or positive criticism and apply it to our own self image.

To have a high self-image, you MUST be confident in your beliefs in yourself, what you hope to achieve and not worry about how others view you. My favorite quote is “You were born an original, do not die a copy.” We’re all individuals. We are all different. We all hope to achieve different things. If you constantly worry about how one of your peers is going to view you and your actions, it TOO is another anchor that will prevent you from moving forward. Advice is free, be cautious of who you take it from. If you are about to make a big financial decision, who do you think you would want to seek out for advice, a friend who is knowledgeable in financial planning and investments or your broke uncle who is living paycheck to paycheck? Anyone can give advice, but the people that give it to you do NOT have to live with the results that result from YOUR choice. Make your choice YOURS. Do not live your life based on the approval of others.

Self-Worth Whether you truly believe you deserve the results that will come from your actions. Anyone ever heard of achievement anxiety? It’s a form of fear of failure, but more importantly, it’s not a fear of accomplishing the task at hand, it’s being anxious or doubting that you deserve the benefit or will be able to handle the benefit that you achieve. For example, most sales positions are paid in some sort of commission. When I first started in my “real” sales career, I was paid a minimal base salary, given great benefits, and was paid a commission based on the sales that I brought in. There were benchmarks on what was expected. As I gained experience on the job and became more confident, my income grew. Looking back, sure my income grew from day one to say, fifteen months on the job, but then it plateaued. Why did that happen? Now one would answer, “Well, I worked hard and I made great money, enough for me to pay all of my monthly bills, contribute to my retirement and my savings, and still have a little left over to play with and have a social life.” But why did my income plateau? I probably would have said back then, “If I’m comfortable and paying my bills, then I guess I’m working just hard enough to make a living and nothing more.” At a position where there is NO cap on commission, where there is NO LIMIT on the potential of income, why was I only working hard enough for me to pay my bills and be comfortable?? Because I looked at making an exteme amount of money as being unrealistic, but furthermore and more importantly, I didn’t feel that I DESERVED an extreme amount of money. This thought process comes from our environment. Especially with the Occupy Movement currently, rich people are looked at as selfish, as ignorant, as un-caring, thoughtless people. We are taught “anti-rich” thoughts as children with phrases like “stinking rich” or “filthy rich”. We learn to look at wealthy people as snobby and greedy. We are unknowingly TRAINED to think negatively about having extreme amounts of money.

I remember during a sales meeting in August of 2010, we were asked by our Vice President of Sales to tear a sheet of paper out of our notepads and write down how much income we would like to make; what we each wanted to strive to make in a year. We all tore out a piece of paper, wrote down our number down, folded our papers up and passed them down the conference table to the VP. There were numerous numbers from $150,000 all the way up to $500,000 a year. As the numbers were being read aloud and passed aside to read the next, the VP said, “Wow, only $80,000? Someone doesn’t have very high expectations for themselves.” That was me. I was already on pace to hit that $80,000. I didn’t feel I deserved any more than that. I had a very, VERY, low self-worth. My confidence in my job affected my self-esteem, which affected how I felt about how others felt about me, which affected how I felt about the rewards I realized in my outer world – or my self-worth. Furthermore, I was fearful of not only how I would be perceived in my family or by my friends if I did make more than that, but fearful of how I would MANAGE that money. See, self-worth is KEY for money management. People with money are looked to as ignorant and snobbish. People who come from low-income households have negative perceptions about wealthy people. We are unknowingly trained to rid ourselves of money because we subconsiously 1) don’t feel we deserve it, and 2) we do not want to be looked at by others in the same way. See, as soon as I got paid I would make sure my bills were paid and instead of saving any money for a rainy day, I would piss it away by spending hundreds of dollars at the bar. I would piss it away gambling hundreds of dollars at the casino. I would buy stupid things that I didn’t need. I would do ANYTHING to get that money away from me because I was so fearful of being looked at as a wealthy person. I didn’t feel I deserved the wealth. That is why most people who come from low-income households stay in the same financial situation. They fear that their families or their friends will look at them as being “too good” for them, or “leaving them behind”.

Get out of that mindset! Feel in your heart that you are comfortable and confident in your abilities. Feel in your heart that others look to you for knowledge, leadership, and they ultimately respect you – that is if your actions are lawful and moral. If they don’t, you can’t control how people react so don’t worry about it. And most importantly, believe in your heart that you FULLY deserve every single reward that comes from your faith, your hard work, and your determination.

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