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The Passengers In Your Mind

March 11, 2018

Someone’s opinion of you does not have to be your reality.” This quote from Les Brown forms the basis of my article today. But first, as always, a little background.

A few weeks ago I had to go for a very important dinner meeting, and as I was leaving home heading to the venue of this meeting, I gave a couple of passengers a ride. Even though I knew them, I wasn’t really talking much and so I opted to just listen to them having their "conversation". It soon turned out to be not so interesting when I realized the conversation was actually about me. Maybe I should say it was not so much a conversation but it was more like a monologue.  I say this because they were not conversing with each other, instead, each was directing their words to me. Well, I chose not to respond to either of them but focused on my driving.

You might be thinking that I’m a snob for ignoring passengers in my car, but the truth is, there were no physical passengers in my car with me that evening; the passengers were in my head.

I had allowed myself to carry in my mind some conversations I had been having with a few people, conversations which were unfortunately not very healthy. Why? Because they were basically meant to make me feel bad about myself. They were meant to make me feel unworthy and undeserving, someone really wanted to make me feel like a second rate human being, one unfit for anything good in life. Unknowingly, in the quietness of my car, I found myself reliving that conversation only to realize that if I was not careful, I would let the negativity that had been thrown at me affect not just my mood, but most importantly, it was bound to affect my perception of myself in a very adverse way.

I keep saying this and I will repeat it again, that what people say about you to you is not as important as what you say about you to you. There are people whose mission in life is to be negative critics; you will never do anything good in their eyes as long as you are not a “Yes” person. Unfortunately for me, I have never been a yes person in my life and I will never be. If something doesn’t make sense to me I will ask questions and if you can’t handle me questioning you or your philosophy until I get a satisfactory response, then I’m sorry to say I will not dance to your tune. If for whatever reason my intuition tells me something is off about something or someone, then there is no way I will say yes to anything attached to that person or that thing (unless I agree to prove a point).

Friends, it is very easy to firewall yourself against other people’s negative words towards you. But what happens when it is you talking negative about yourself? The worst kind of negative talk is when it is from you towards yourself. That kind of negativity is so toxic that coming out of it would need a lot of work. You are not what people think you are, but you are who you think you are. Why? Because whoever you think you are is whoever you are going to present to the world. And guess what, people will treat you the way you treat YOU. So if you treat yourself with disrespect of any kind, the please do not expect other people to treat you with respect. You lead the way, others just follow.

So this is what I usually say to people; if someone thinks you are a loser, you can actually use that as motivation to show them who the loser between you and them really is.  But if you think you are a loser, who will disprove you if you yourself don’t even believe in you?  That’s why Henry Ford said that whoever believes they can will and whoever believes they can’t won’t. If you think you are a loser then you will present a loser to the world and everything you will do will clearly show you are a loser. But if you think you are a victor, then by all means you will exude victorious tendencies and actions that will get you to that victory you envisioned for yourself. That’s why it is so important for you to have a very clear vision of who you are so that when someone comes with a different version of your vision, you can calmly and confidently tell them to dump that vision in the trash can for that is not how you see yourself.

The only time you can accept someone’s criticism of you is if they mean well. None of us is perfect and no matter how much we try, we will never be perfect. However, those of us who willingly admit that we have weaknesses work through our imperfections to become better people on a daily basis. We learn how to manage our imperfections. Sometimes we fail in our attempts to better ourselves but when we fail, we pick ourselves up and try again until we overcome that specific weakness. It does help though when you can get someone who genuinely corrects you without any form of bias or selfish motives.

I was talking to a friend this last week who is going through a really tough time at work. This person’s boss is doing everything possible to frustrate them, and no matter how hard they try, the boss just doesn’t seem to see it. It got to a point where my friend decided quitting was the only option but then as we were talking I asked this question; are you quitting because you think you have failed or are you quitting because you know your worth and will not allow anyone to step all over you

By the way, to any boss reading this article today, do you know that when an employee quits their job in your company because the described it as a “bad job” they are not actually quitting the company but instead they are quitting you? I have heard (and even experienced it personally) harrowing stories of  people who made the decision to quit their jobs because of their managers. So, if you are a business owner and you have a high staff turnover, you might want to really find out what is causing those staff members to leave your employment. If they are reporting to you directly, then you might want to look inwards to see why you are losing staff and if they are reporting to other people, you might want to call them and talk to them personally to find out why they left the organization. You might be unknowingly losing GREAT people just because of a few managers (read damagers) who you think are “good” people. If their leaving has nothing to do with career advancement or promotion opportunities, then you have a very huge problem in your hands, one that you need to sort out. FAST.

Going back to my initial story, I had given a free ride to negative passengers in my head and as a result, I almost found myself directing some negative thoughts towards myself. So I resolved something from that day onwards; it doesn’t matter who the person is, but if whatever they are saying to me is breaking me instead of building me, then that is the last person I should be entertaining or listening to.  I suggest you make the same resolve too. This is because the more you listen to them, the more you start believing them and the moment you start believing them, you stop believing in yourself, and the moment you stop believing in yourself, who will believe in you?

The next time you find yourself having negative thoughts about yourself, first thing you need to ask yourself is where they came from; did someone say something negative to you then you embraced it and gave that person a free ride in your mind? In most cases you will realize the thoughts came from something someone told you.  It is time you put a sieve in your mind to sift through negativity. Be so conscious of what goes through your mind that whenever something negative pops up, you will be quick to squash it like you would a cockroach that unknowingly found itself in your living room.

 

It has been said so many times that success leaves clues. The author of the book I am recommending as this week’s read used to be a financial disaster. Like many of us, he had ups and downs, but in the most part, he was broke. He says that “If your subconscious “financial blueprint” is not “set” for success, nothing you learn, nothing you know, and nothing you do will make much of a difference.”  This same concept applies to every other area of your life.

 

That is why this week in the ongoing #52BooksIn52Weeks2018 Book Reading Challenge I am recommending a small big book called Secrets of a Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker; small because of its physical size but big because of its content.

 

Remember, be careful who is saying what to you, but most importantly, be very conscious of what you think or say to yourself about YOU.

 

 

Be Ignited. Be Inspired. Be Influenced. Become the best version of yourself you can ever be.

 

PS: This article was originally published in Tanzania's Guardian On Sunday on the 11th of March, 2018, under my weekly column "Thoughts in Words".

 

 

 

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