The Good Fight
We are all warriors of some kind, fighting the good fight to perpetuate our personal stories, beliefs, and truths. Sometimes, however, the war we are fighting is against ourselves. When we embrace self-limiting ideologies, weapons such as self-deprecation, self-loathing, and even fear can taint our perception of the truth.
The result: Beyond leading to a compromised sense of self, these self-limiting thoughts also hinder our personal development on a larger scale. They can impact how we engage with others, transforming normal, peaceful interactions into a battleground laced with miscommunication, anger, pity, and pain. When we view ourselves through a lens of limitation, we end up battling those around us, instead of collaborating.
Sometimes, we hold fast to these ideals despite the gravest of consequences, much like a soldier would. But unlike soldiers who have commanders barking orders in their ears, with little control over the orders they are handed, we each have the opportunity and luxury of modifying the negative voices we hear and the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and how we should live. Of course, there are real life experiences that contribute to how we view ourselves, but if we allow only our past experiences to determine our future, then we have given up hope and lost the ability to be present in fighting the good fight—to really live and grow from who we were.
What’s Your Story
Imagine that the story you tell yourself as narrator of your own life is that you are not very smart. Is this the truth or is this a self-created myth you’ve perpetuated about yourself? What does this self-portrayal tell the world? Do you resent people who you think are smarter than you? Do you shy away from opportunities to grow at work, in your family, or in your community because you think you can’t handle them? Do you resent yourself? Perhaps the truth is that, in the past, you haven’t committed to work, family, or community in your fullest capacity. Perhaps the reason you think you aren’t capable is because, in the past, you haven’t really tried.
Watch how the truth starts to shift when you begin to shed self-limiting beliefs.
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The truth is then a subjective concept marred with self-limiting beliefs. Reality is a different matter. Reality is what bites us into present sobriety when just the facts at hand speak. A good soldier of life is one who fights past self-limiting beliefs to discover new truths that not only benefit him, but also the characters around him. We have the luxury of changing our story about the type of war we fought, how we fought it, and what we learned from it. We don’t have to fight with ourselves about who we are. We can raise the white flag and concede that perhaps we do have more to offer than we thought we could give in the past. If we are candid with ourselves, establish the facts regarding our viewpoint, and realize that we can be more proactive in changing our thoughts, we will be at peace. More internal peace equates to less battle for self-esteem and potentially greater sustained happiness.
Goal: To positively assess your characteristics and determine what is truthful about your perception.
- Take out a sheet of paper and create two columns: pros and cons.
- In the pros column, make a list of all of your positive characteristics.
- For each positive characteristic, think about the things that you’ve done in your life to cultivate this skill or quality and also consider times where you have exercised this skill or quality with a positive result.
- Next, think about each negative characteristic and write it down. Think about opportunities you’ve had to change this quality in the past and also think about how you might change it in the future.
- Try to connect each negative quality with a positive one. See if you can find ways to transform the negative quality into a reciprocal quality that could be placed in your pros column.
Through this exercise, you should start to see that no quality or skill is inherent or stagnant. Everything is subject to change and development.
Lisa Cypers Kamen, MA, is the founder of Harvesting Happiness and executive director of Harvesting Happiness for Heroes™. In addition, she is a filmmaker, positive psychology coach, author, host of Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio, professor, and lecturer specializing in the field of sustainable happiness. Lisa is committed to teaching Happiness is an inside job™ and helping others end their needless suffering through intentionally cultivating greater joy.
*Image courtesy of toffehoff.