Tag Archives: Martin Seligman

creating a more positive image

“It’s not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life,it’s what you whisper to yourself that has the most power!”
― Robert T. Kiyosaki

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What do you believe about yourself?   Do you believe that you are the total sum of what others have said about you?   Did you believe the teachers, parents, relatives, friends or others that said, “You are ___________”?

Most people believe what others say about them and then build their internal story to match what the outside world has told them they should be or what they shouldn’t be.  Teachers may have told you that “you’ll never amount to __________” and left an indelible mark on your story.   You may have believed that “I won’t be able to live my dreams.”   That story became your life.  Others may have influenced you as well and killed your biggest dream.   Think about it for a few minutes.  What did others say you were going to be or do in life?   What story do you still carry around with you?

The story becomes a belief, the mask hides the true self from the authentic self and life becomes less than what it could really be.    There are three key beliefs that impact your personal image.

1. Personal.  The belief that what you hear is true and that is the truth about who you are.   With enough repetition there is a shift in some people to a mode of helplessness.

2. Pervasive.    The idea that all external messages are pointed to you and are negative.   That all negative things are in a sense apply to all things, as in “everything is bad.”

3. Permanent.  It’s not that things are bad, things are going to get worse.   The tide of woe is only going to grow and there is no hope at all.

One way to improve your self-image is to look at the things you do control and the things you don’t control.   Take a piece of paper and draw a line down the center.  On the left write “control” and the right write “don’t control”.   Write down all the things you do control and then write down all the things you don’t control.   You can manage what you do control.   Leave what you can’t control behind.

Listen to Professor Seligman describe the state of psychology here:

find your strengths

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this horror.  I can take the next thing that comes along.” . . .  You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”  Eleanor Roosevelt

It seems more and more people are going to work in disguise.   That is they are going there and using their weaknesses or just suffering through the day and work isn’t fun.  It could be bad management/leadership but more often than not people are in jobs they shouldn’t be in.   Work shouldn’t be painful to do, it should be engaging and even fun.   Work should be “hard” but not “hard to do”.

The experts would say, use your strengths and so often we don’t get to use our strengths each day most of the time.   We get to use our strengths some of the time and when we are not using our strengths it is like someone just stole all your energy.   You tend to feel drained and incomplete when you don’t get to use your strengths.

Marcus Buckingham, probably the lead “strengths” guru, has found that using your strengths matter.   Now what do most people do then?  They focus on what they aren’t good at and beat themselves up over it or their manager says, “Here, you can improve on this”, and “this” is your set of weaknesses.  How do you feel working on your weaknesses?   You are probably not too energized about improving your weakness.

What if you could strengthen your strengths?   Wouldn’t that be energizing, to work on what you love to do, of course it would.   We don’t live in  a society where working on what you are good at is emphasized that much unless you are an athlete and then you are working with a coach to refine the goodness of your strengths.

So, what do you do?  How do you find the strengths that you already have?

1.  List what you are naturally good at.

2. Check to see if you are using those strengths/gifts/talents most of the time.

3. Examine where you could put your strengths to use.

4. Create a plan, a strengths based utilization plan.

5. Execute the plan and see what happens, measure the results, measure the effort, measure the joy.

What if you can’t figure out your strengths?  There are a couple of ways to do that.    Martin Seligman has a website which has a free strengths test on it and you can start looking there.   You can purchase a copy of Strengths 2.0 by Tom Rath and use the code inside the cover of the book to take the Gallup version of the Strengths test.

Take the first step and find out what you are really good at.   Then create a plan so that you can be the best you can be.  You will be happier in the long run when you are living a life that is congruent with your strengths.

“Always remember, there is more strength in you than you ever realized or even imagined. Certainly nothing can keep you down if you are determined to get on top of things and stay there.” Norman Vincent Peale

What I think I become …

“A man is but the product of his thoughts, what he thinks, he becomes.” -Mahatma Gandhi

 

Values, beliefs and experiences drive our thoughts.   What we think about we become.  Our thoughts are transformed into emotional energy, fear, worry, doubt, anxiety, or happiness, peace, joy, confidence, self-assurance, and contentment which ultimately shapes how we live our lives.  Most people experience far more negative information in their lives than positive.   The messages that are received from others begin to transform our beliefs about ourselves over time.   Messages that we receive as children enter our mind in the formative years and become a strong part of our story.   It is not that the story is true, it is that we believe that the story is true for us and we start living in that story rather than the story of our own making.   In other words for some reason we focus on the impacts of negative thoughts more so than positive thoughts.  It is as if we are taught to believe negative thought as being true and positive thought as wishful thinking.   Martin Seligman writes “Frequent and intense negative thoughts about the past are the raw material that blocks the emotions of contentment and satisfaction, and these thoughts make serenity and peace impossible.”

What can one do in order to shift the thoughts that drive emotions so that there is more positive thinking being done?  

  1. Focus on positive events in life and  opportunities to be grateful.
  2. Forgive the people in the past that may have strongly influenced the negative thought patterns.

Positive emotions lead to better health, both physical and mentally according to research done by Sarah Pressman.  

Positive thinking leads to positive emotions which increases the overall satisfaction with life.   Who wouldn’t want more of that?

What can you do when a negative feeling or thought comes screeching at you?

  1. Take a deep breath.  Acknowledge the emotion (“I feel …. “)
  2. Shift the energy of that emotion.   (This is mental Aikido …) and gently push the emotion to a different place.  
  3. Replace the thought with something better,  a favorite vacation, sunset, something admirable, peaceful, enjoyable and inner smile event.
  4. Take another deep breath.

Read the words of David Whyte and see what message is trying to convey.   We are often trapped, bombarded by information, and most of it is negative information, sensationalized news, stories that are all designed to pull us into believing everything in the world is negative.   Negative information sells and is profitable but it is not the world of truth, it is only a speck of truth in the total amount of information that is available.   Sometimes it is the negative news that provides momentary relief from personal suffering that people seek.  However a constant bath of negative information soon becomes the truth about the world and about the self and it takes more depressing negative news to feel just a tiny bit better.   

Surround yourself with positive news, positive thoughts and positive people and you’ll start feeling better about whom you are, and what you can accomplish.  It turns out that the more positive things you bring into your life the better your life becomes.  

Loaves and Fishes

This is not
the age of information.

This is not
the age of information.

Forget the news,
and the radio,
and the blurred screen.

This is the time
of loaves
and fishes.

People are hungry
and one good word is bread
for a thousand.

  — David Whyte
      from The House of Belonging
     ©1996 Many Rivers Press

your thought patterns

In the past researchers focused on negative thought patterns and depression and now researchers like Martin Seligman, Tal Ben Shahar, Sonja Lyubomirsky and Gretchen Rubin are focusing on positive thinking.

 

When a negative thought enters your mind what do you do with it?  Do you dwell on it as if it were true?   Take an example from your past, a time when a negative thought just turned over and over in your mind.   What was that thought?  

Evaluate the thought through the prism of these four questions to see if the thought is true.

  1. Is the thought true?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it is true?
  3. How do you feel when you have that thought?
  4. Who would you be or what would you feel if it you didn’t have that thought?

Now, reverse the thought and change it to its opposite.

  1. Is the thought false?
  2. Can you absolutely know that it is false?
  3. How do you feel when you have that thought?
  4. What would you be or what would you feel if you did something with this thought?

 

 

Which scenario is more valid, the positive thought or the negative thought?   Which thought has the possibility of creating a better mood and better outcome?

Take time to think about the positive outcomes and your life will become more positive as a result.