"If you really do put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price." --Anonymous
Most people struggle with the inconsistencies of their lives. They continue to ask themselves why they can't reach a higher level of satisfaction, both at home and in the office. The truth is, satisfaction comes from a reservoir of emotion deep inside and a self-concept that is woefully lacking. If you can grasp and own the following concept, it will revolutionize both your business and personal life. In fact, revolutionize is a grand understatement.
Somewhere back in time, you were born. Think for a moment about your value, at that moment, on a scale of one to 10, with 10 representing unimaginable worth and one being little or no value. What was your value in this universe? Write down your number.
Now, sitting here today, on the same scale of one to 10, what is your value in the universe today? Wait. Before you answer, think about the last few months of your life, or even the last few years. Recall your experiences: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Ponder the pain. Celebrate the joy. Now, write down your number underneath the first.
It's curious to me how people respond to these questions. Some, in answering the first question with a number closer to 10, believe they were born with some intrinsic value. Others put a number closer to one because they believe they haven't accomplished anything yet, and thus have no value. Still others will end up somewhere in the middle, because they feel while there is intrinsic value in just being human, there is still something they can accomplish that will make them more valuable.
I have some incredibly good news for you. As sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, you were born a 10. That is a fact, not an opinion. At birth, you couldn't have been more valuable. Yet, there is even better news. Not only were you born a 10, you have not lost one penny of value since birth. That's right, you are a 10, and a 10 you always will be.
The problem, though, is that sitting here today, you probably don't feel like a 10. Don't worry, you're not alone. On some level, everyone has a deep-seated feeling that they aren't really a 10. While some feel better than others, everyone suffers from the same malady. Let me explain. There are two significant reasons that we all feel this way. The first is by virtue of our life experiences and the second is by virtue of a false understanding of our true identity.
First, let's tackle the life experiences. The best way I can explain it is through mirrors. Have you ever been to a crazy mirror house at a state or county fair? One mirror makes you look short and fat; the next mirror makes you look tall and skinny; another mirror makes you look kind of wavy. What if the only mirror in your house and at your school was the one that made you look like a "wavy" person? No matter where you turned, whichever way you looked at home or school, you would see the wavy person. Every reflection you saw of yourself would be through that distorted view. You would look at yourself and think "that's not really me," but deep inside, you would begin to doubt what you knew to be true, and begin to believe what you constantly saw in the mirror.
The reality is that your parents, brothers, sisters, and friends are all mirrors. They reflect back to you an image of who you are. Since they are all imperfect to one degree or another, the image you began to believe in is also distorted. All the family troubles you might have lived through, all the teasing you endured in junior high, all the betrayal, loss, and fears were a distortion that you looked into every day. Granted, some grew up in incredibly great homes with positive parents who showed them love and support. While their parents were good, they weren't perfect, and even they couldn't prevent experiences occurring within the extended family, the school, and the neighborhood. All, to one degree or another, were distorted reflections. You were engraved with a distorted view.
The second reality is that people develop a distorted view of themselves through their success or failure in the various roles they play. For example: I am a father, son, brother, husband, businessman, friend, volunteer, etc. I have failed to one degree or another in all of these roles at various times. I remember one specific time I yelled at my son and banged on the closet door in anger at his not obeying me. I left the room and walked down the hall feeling better that I really got through to my then six year old. As I walked down the hall, I heard my son begin to cry. What I had done is destroy him in only seven seconds. My son is incredibly sensitive and doesn't need anyone to yell at him. I spent the next 15 minutes picking him up off the floor and apologizing, trying hard to help him understand that it was not his fault I was angry, it was me having a bad day and taking it out on him. I basically was a one as a father, and felt horrible about my ranking.
The reality is, in our roles, we can succeed or fail on a scale of one to 10 many times as we go through our day. The truth is, our identity value never changes, it's only our perception that changes. So, although the truth is that you are still a 10, you may very well have a deep reservoir of feelings that tell you otherwise. An equally revealing truth is that we perform in our "roles" within a point, either positive or negative, of how we deeply feel about ourselves. If we feel our value is really a four, then we will function on a daily basis between a three and a five. Sure, you will occasionally have a peak experience that may even rise as high as a 10, but you will eventually fall back to how you perceive yourself.
With those truths in mind, it's obvious that one of the keys to a more fulfilled life and higher performance in our business and personal affairs is to raise our self-concept, or how we feel value. There are a number of ways people can be intentional about raising their self-value. I'll list a few:
Ownership: One of the first areas you need to tackle is responsibility. Who is responsible for your life? The answer is obvious: you are. So many people blame others for the life choices that they themselves have made. They blame and never change. I can't tell you how many people I've talked to that told me that this person did this and that person did that, all in an effort to not take responsibility for their own choices. Again, the reality is that even though people were distorted mirrors and had an impact on your life, what you do with your life is still your decision to make. You need to own it and stop blaming others for your successes and failures.
Power time: The most successful people I have read about have set aside time devoted to pouring a steady stream of life-giving input into their lives. They spend 30 to 60 minutes each day reading, journaling, praying, walking, listening to music, etc. They schedule the time and are religious about keeping the appointment. It's been said that an unexamined life is not a life worth living. Take time to examine life and renew it.
Limit the access of negative people: We all have people in our lives that are consistently negative and use us simply to dump the bad way they feel about themselves on to someone else. It's indiscriminate, and it's painful. These are people who know how to suck the joy right out of us. You are not obligated to these people. Your job is to limit their access. If you continue to allow them total access, they will give you many stressful days and endless sleepless nights. Screen their calls. Don't call them. I'm not saying to end the relationship, just be purposeful in your contact.
Develop a fan club: If limiting the access of negative people is necessary to build your reservoir of positive feelings about who you are, then purposely seeking out those who believe in you is an equally important mission. Just think, there are people you know that leave you feeling better about yourself whenever you are with them you. Make a habit of scheduling these people into your weeks on a regular basis.
Forgiveness: Last of all, things that you hold against others end up holding you back. It is a truth that when you don't forgive, you are the one held captive. I know two things are true about forgiveness: it isn't fair and it isn't humanly natural. It's true that these people probably hurt you to a degree which only you really understand. You have a choice: Be held back by your bitterness, or release them and thus release yourself. You can't grow if you hold yourself captive in anger. Forgiveness is the key to emotional health.
Remember, you were born a 10, and you haven't lost a penny of value as you sit here today. If you want to improve your life, you need to be intentional and own it, develop a power time, limit the access of negative people, develop your fan club, and forgive. All of these are an ongoing struggle, yet necessary for you to move on. After all, you're worth it. You are a 10 and you always will be -- believe it; live it.
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