Learn the Power of positive thinking to overcome addictions, depression and burnout. Norman Vincent Peale was one of the first writers on The power of positive thinking.
We build up the feeling of insecurity or security by how we think. If in our thoughts we constantly fix attention upon sinister expectations of dire events that might happen, the result will be constantly to feel insecure. And what is even more serious is the tendency to create, by the power of thought, the very condition we fear. This salesman actually created positive results by vital thoughts of courage and confidence through the process of placing the cards before him in his car. His powers, curiously inhibited by a defeat psychology, now flowed out of a personality in which creative attitudes had been stimulated.
Lack of self-confidence apparently is one of the great problems besetting people today. In a university a survey was made of six hundred students in psychology courses. The students were asked to state their most difficult personal problem. Seventy-five per cent listed lack of confidence. It can safely be assumed that the same large proportion is true of the population generally. Everywhere you encounter people who are inwardly afraid, who shrink from life, who suffer from a deep sense of inadequacy and insecurity, who doubt their own powers. Deep within themselves they mistrust their ability to meet responsibilities or to grasp opportunities. Always they are beset by the vague and sinister fear that something is not going to be quite right. They do not believe that they have it in them to be what they want to be, and so they try to make themselves content with something less than that of which they are capable. Thousands upon thousands go crawling through life on their hands and knees, defeated and afraid. And in most cases such frustration of power is unnecessary.
The blows of life, the accumulation of difficulties, the multiplication of problems tend to sap energy and leave you spent and discouraged. In such a condition the true status of your power is often obscured, and a person yields to a discouragement that is not justified by the facts. It is vitally essential to re-appraise your personality assets. When done in an attitude of reasonableness, this evaluation will convince you that you are less defeated than you think you are.
For example, a man fifty-two years of age consulted me. He was in great despondency. He revealed utter despair. He said he “was all through.” He informed me that everything he had built up over his lifetime had been swept away.
“Everything?” I asked.
“Everything,” he repeated. He was through, he reiterated. “I have nothing left at all. Everything is gone. There is no hope, and I am too old to start all over again. I have lost all faith.”
Naturally I felt sympathetic toward him, but it was evident that his chief trouble was the fact that dark shadows of hopelessness had entered his mind and discolored his outlook, distorting it. Behind this twisted thinking his true powers had retreated, leaving him without force.
“So,” I said, “suppose we take a piece of paper and write down the values you have left.”
“There’s no use,” he sighed. “I haven’t a single thing left. I thought I told you that.”
I said, “Let’s just see anyway.” Then asked, “Is your wife still with you?”
“Why, yes, of course, and she is wonderful. We have been married for thirty years. She would never leave me no matter how bad things are.”
“All right, let us put that down—your wife is still with you and she will never leave you no matter what happens. How about your children? Got any children?”
“Yes,” he replied, “I have three and they are certainly wonderful. I have been touched by the way they have come to me and said, ‘Dad, we love you, and we’ll stand by you.’”
“Well, then,” I said, “that is number two—three children who love you and who will stand by you. Got any friends?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said, “I really have some fine friends. I must admit they have been pretty decent. They have come around and said they would like to help me, but what can they do? They can’t do anything.”
“That is number three—you have some friends who would like to help you and who hold you in esteem. How about your integrity? Have you done anything wrong?”
“My integrity is all right,” he replied. “I have always tried to do the right thing and my conscience is clear.”
“All right,” I said, “we will put that down as number four—integrity. How about your health?”
“My health is all right,” he answered. “I have had very few sick days and I guess I am in pretty good shape physically.”
“So let’s put down as number five—good physical health. How about the United States? Do you think it’s still doing business and is the land of opportunity?”
“Yes,” he said. “It is the only country in the world I would want to live in.”
“That is number six—you live in the United States, land of opportunity, and you are glad to be here.” Then I asked, “How about your religious faith? Do you believe in God and that God will help you?”
“Yes,” he said. “I do not think I could have gotten through this at all if I hadn’t had some help from God.”
“Now,” I said, “let’s list the assets we have figured out:
“1. A wonderful wife—married for thirty years.
“2. Three devoted children who will stand by you.
“3. Friends who will help you and who hold you in esteem.
“4. Integrity—nothing to be ashamed of.
“5. Good physical health.
“6. Live in the United States, the greatest country in the world.
“7. Have religious faith.”
I shoved it across the table at him. “Take a look at that. I guess you have quite a total of assets. I thought you told me everything had been swept away.”
He grinned ashamedly. “I guess I didn’t think of those things. I never thought of it that way. Perhaps things aren’t so bad at that,” he said pensively. “Maybe I can start all over again if I can just get some confidence, if I can get the feel of some power within me.”
Well, he got it, and he did start all over again. But he did so only when he changed his viewpoint, his mental attitude. Faith swept away his doubts, and more than enough power to overcome all his difficulties emerged from within him.
This incident illustrates a profound truth which is expressed in a very important statement made by the famous psychiatrist, Dr. Karl Menninger. He said, “Attitudes are more important than facts.” That is worth repeating until its truth grips you. Any fact facing us, however difficult, even seemingly hopeless, is not so important as our attitude toward that fact. How you think about a fact may defeat you before you ever do anything about it. You may permit a fact to overwhelm you mentally before you start to deal with it actually. On the other hand, a confident and optimistic thought pattern can modify or overcome the fact altogether.
I know a man who is a tremendous asset to his organization, not because of any extraordinary ability, but because he invariably demonstrates a triumphant thought pattern. Perhaps his associates view a proposition pessimistically, so he employs what he calls “the vacuum-cleaner method.” That is, by a series of questions he “sucks the dust” out of his associates’ minds; he draws out their negative attitudes. Then quietly he suggests positive ideas concerning the proposition until a new set of attitudes gives them a new concept of the facts.
They often comment upon how different facts appear when this man “goes to work on them.” It’s the confidence attitude that makes the difference, nor does this rule out objectivity in an appraisal of facts. The inferiority complex victim sees all facts through discolored attitudes. The secret of correction is simply to gain a normal view, and that is always slanted on the positive side.
So if you feel that you are defeated and have lost confidence in your ability to win, sit down, take a piece of paper and make a list, not of the factors that are against you, but of those that are for you. If you or I or anybody think constantly of the forces that seem to be against us, we will build them up into a power far beyond that which is justified. They will assume a formidable strength which they do not actually possess. But if, on the contrary, you mentally visualize and affirm and reaffirm your assets and keep your thoughts on them, emphasizing them to the fullest extent, you will rise out of any difficulty regardless of what it may be. Your inner powers will reassert themselves and, with the help of God, lift you from defeat to victory.
One of the most powerful concepts, one which is a sure cure for lack of confidence, is the thought that God is actually with you and helping you. This is one of the simplest teachings in religion, namely, that Almighty God will be your companion, will stand by you, help you, and see you through. No other idea is so powerful in developing self-confidence as this simple belief when practiced. To practice it simply affirm “God is with me; God is helping me; God is guiding me.” Spend several minutes each day visualizing His presence. Then practice believing that affirmation. Go about your business on the assumption that what you have affirmed and visualized is true. Affirm it, visualize it, believe it, and it will actualize itself. The release of power which this procedure stimulates will astonish you.
Feelings of confidence depend upon the type of thoughts that habitually occupy your mind. Think defeat and you are bound to feel defeated. But practice thinking confident thoughts, make it a dominating habit, and you will develop such a strong sense of capacity that regardless of what difficulties arise you will be able to overcome them. Feelings of confidence actually induce increased strength. Basil King once said, “Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.” Experience proves the truth of this. You will feel these mighty forces aiding you as your increasing faith reconditions your attitudes.
Emerson declared a tremendous truth, “They conquer who believe they can.” And he added, “Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.” Practice confidence and faith and your fears and insecurities will soon have no power over you.
Once when Stonewall Jackson planned a daring attack, one of his generals fearfully objected, saying, “I am afraid of this” or “I fear that …” Putting his hand on his timorous subordinate’s shoulder, Jackson said, “General, never take counsel of your fears.”
The secret is to fill your mind with thoughts of faith, confidence, and security. This will force out or expel all thoughts of doubt, all lack of confidence. To one man who for a long time had been haunted by insecurities and fears I suggested that he read through the Bible underlining in red pencil every statement it contains relative to courage and confidence. He also committed them to memory, in effect cramming his mind full of the healthiest, happiest, most powerful thoughts in the world. These dynamic thoughts changed him from cringing hopelessness to a man of compelling force. The change in him in a few weeks was remarkable. From almost complete defeat he became a confident and inspiring personality. He now radiates courage and magnetism. He regained confidence in himself and his own powers by a simple process of thought conditioning.
To sum up what we teach at our drug rehab center and wellness treatment center —what can you do now to build up your self-confidence? Following are ten simple, workable rules for overcoming inadequacy attitudes and learning to practice faith. Thousands have used these rules, reporting successful results. Undertake this program and you, too, will build up confidence in your powers. You, too, will have a new feeling of power.
- Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop this picture. Never think of yourself as failing; never doubt the reality of the mental image. That is most dangerous, for the mind always tries to complete what it pictures. So always picture “success” no matter how badly things seem to be going at the moment.
- Whenever a negative thought concerning your personal powers comes to mind, deliberately voice a positive thought to cancel it out.
- Do not built up obstacles in your imagination. Depreciate every so-called obstacle. Minimize them. Difficulties must be studied and efficiently dealt with to be eliminated, but they must be seen for only what they are. They must not be inflated by fear thoughts.
- Do not be awestruck by other people and try to copy them. Nobody can be you as efficiently as YOU can. Remember also that most people, despite their confident appearance and demeanour, are often as scared as you are and as doubtful of themselves.
- Ten times a day repeat these dynamic words, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) (Stop reading and repeat them NOW slowly and confidently.)
- Get a competent counselor to help you understand why you do what you do. Learn the origin of your inferiority and self-doubt feelings which often begin in childhood. Self-knowledge leads to a cure.
- Ten times each day practice the following affirmation, repeating it out loud if possible. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13) Repeat those words NOW. That magic statement is the most powerful antidote on earth to inferiority thoughts.
- Make a true estimate of your own ability, then raise it 10 per cent. Do not become egotistical, but develop a wholesome self-respect. Believe in your own God-released powers.
- Put yourself in God’s hands. To do that simply state, “I am in God’s hands.” Then believe you are NOW receiving all the power you need. “Feel” it flowing into you. Affirm that “the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21) in the form of adequate power to meet life’s demands.
- Remind yourself that God is with you and nothing can defeat you. Believe that you now RECEIVE power from him.
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