So I have a little notebook app on my phone that I use to jot down all of my deep thoughts to come back to later, either for the purposes of further meditation or perhaps as a topic for a future blog post or video lesson (if it poses enough critical thinking). Upon consulting this list a few days ago I came across some words that really struck a chord with me – and I wish I could remember where I got them from!
I can guarantee that this thought was not originally my own, so whatever podcast/blog/book/video/sermon that I jacked this from… I’M SORRY! I always believe in giving credit where credit is due, but this time, unfortunately, I’m unable to. So why don’t you just pretend that I came up with it myself, that way I’ll seem smarter than the average bear.
Now, maybe I’m talking things up too much here, because what I wrote down was very simple. Perhaps too simple. We’ll have to disguise it a little bit by calling it “simple, yet elegant,” to quote the great Dr. Rick Marshall from The Land of the Lost, because it’s probably easy to look at it and move on. Apparently I almost did this when I jotted the words down initially, thinking to myself “Here’s something I should probably think about later when I’m not too busy trying to solve this Flappy Bird predicament.” Here’s what I wrote down:
Whatever you say about yourself – you’re right.
That’s it. You probably think you’ve got this already and you’re about done with this blogpost now. But before you move on with your day, why don’t you just chew on it for a bit. Let it settle in and really think about it.
At face-value it’s pretty self-explanatory. But it’s also pretty deep at the same time. Here’s the thing – we have a problem with labeling ourselves, lying to ourselves, convincing ourselves, motivating ourselves and repetitively reminding ourselves that we are _______. You can fill in the blank with whatever you like, but it’s not always true. It’s not always accurate. But you know what? The more you say it, the more you believe it. The more you hear it, the more accurate it sounds.
I used to say for years that I had bad knees from skateboarding. 10+ years of jumping, landing and sometimes crashing from very tall heights had just done my knees in; so much that every time I bent down I’d feel it. I dreaded picking up a guitar cable from the floor or messing with stomp boxes because it meant I would have to get back up. And every time I did I found myself saying these words, “Man my knees are so jacked!” Or “That’s what you get for skateboarding your whole life.”
Now let it be known – I’ve not had a medical physician diagnose me with any kind of knee disorder. I only know that it hurts when I kneel down.
Well, it used to hurt. It actually doesn’t anymore. I’m sure part of it is due to my current state of activity and health-consciousness, but I think a large portion of it is based on the fact that I don’t say it anymore. I think eventually I realized that kneeling down wasn’t hurting anymore, so there was no use in saying, “Dang you skateboard! You ruined my knees!” To be honest, I’m not even sure that I stopped saying it when the pain went away. I bet it actually subsided years ago – but catch this: I still had bad knees.
Even though they didn’t really hurt, I thought they did because it was skateboarding’s fault. I had told myself for years that that’s what it was, that’s how it happened, that’s what’s wrong. And then I realized there wasn’t a problem anymore, so I guess I was wrong all along? Was it my words that were convincing my body how to feel?
I’m no doctor or anything, so please don’t go off your medications just because you don’t believe in your illnesses anymore. Bad idea. But I will say that what you say and believe about yourself will inevitably be true to you because you will believe almost anything you say. Just think about all the times you made a really bad decision, knowing it was a bad decision, but somehow you were still able to convince yourself at the time that it was ok.
Now, this is a tricky topic so I’ll try and keep it close to home and not get too far into the “Well does that mean you can cure cancer with my positive thoughts?” category. Let’s leave that to the much more informed. Instead, let’s take this statement to our musicality, because there’s a lot of things we tell ourselves here that are counterproductive if we are dumb enough to believe them.
My favorite is this one: “I just don’t have enough time to practice.”
Yep. You’re right. You don’t. I believe you. Wanna know why? BECAUSE YOU JUST ADMITTED YOUR OWN DEFEAT BY SAYING SO! You don’t have any time and you believed you! To be honest, it’s not that surprising. But let’s just do some math real quick:
There’s 24 hours in a typical day, 8 of those at least must be spent sleeping (hopefully) so we’re really only dealing with 16 hours. Probably 8-9 of those are spent at work or school, including your lunch break, and figure an extra hour or so for breakfast and dinner combined. 5-6 hours left, roughly. Your commute? Ok, take off another hour or two. Ok, maybe 3-5 hours left? I’m still seeing plenty of time left over here for spending quality time with loved ones, reading, exercising… Perhaps even practicing this instrument that you claim to love so much?
You’re telling me that within those 24 hours you didn’t have a single minute to grab a bass and pluck a few strings? Doubtful.
But then again, you said so yourself that you didn’t have time. So you didn’t. Plain and simple.
I guess I should apologize now for sounding like I’m talking directly to YOU in this very facetious manner. I’m not. I’m actually talking to me, more or less, because I’ve convinced myself of these things before. More often than not, as a matter of fact, I’ve told myself what my failures were, where my shortcomings are, what my limits consist of, what I have too much of, where I lack, what I can’t do…
I could keep going here but I think you get the point. BE CAREFUL about what you tell yourself about yourself because YOU WILL BELIEVE IT. Be careful what you say about what you can do and what you have time to do and what your limitations are because YOU WILL NOT IGNORE THEM.
This isn’t really news to anyone, but it is. Attitude is everything and you won’t go anywhere by kicking yourself every chance you get. Instead, try to remember the power of your own words and use them to your benefit, rather than your downfall. Don’t give up and admit defeat before you even start; you deserve a chance to prove yourself wrong.
I may have just pulled a Terminator paradox with that last statement, but I’ll stand by it 🙂