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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

4 Techniques for Examining Who You Are And How You Define Yourself

How do you define yourself? Do you define yourself as incapable? Do you spend all of your time arguing for your limitations? Do you find yourself explaining all the reasons why you will never make more money, never find a mate, never make a difference, never convince your boss, never be healthy, never be smart, never be happy, never get your dream, never learn a skill, never be understood and never have time?

Or do you define yourself as capable? Do you believe that you have what it takes to make more money, have wonderful relationships, learn to persuade, take care of yourself, understand the river, develop new choices, design a worthwhile life and reach your goals?

Which is it? Do you define yourself as capable, or incapable?
A primary cause of success is defining yourself as capable. After all, if you believe that you're incapable, you will find evidence to support your belief everywhere. You will be able to argue for your limitations endlessly, and you will be right. You will be limited, and you will be incapable because whatever you believe with emotion creates your perspective, and your perspective creates your reality.

However, once you learn to redefine yourself as capable and start to look for proof of your capabilities, you will begin to find evidence of your capabilities everywhere. And once you begin to see yourself as capable, you will begin to feel and act capably.

Henry Ford said, "If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can't, you can't." Whatever you believe, you're right. So don't keep arguing for your limitations unless you like being limited.

Learn to redefine yourself as capable.
I suppose that statement is easy enough to say, but how do you actually redefine yourself? You could start by understanding the power of belief. Lets' face it; if you simply tell yourself to redefine a belief, you're in for a fight. After all, when you believe something completely, finding evidence to contradict that belief is nearly impossible. Besides, whenever you tell yourself to stop believing something, you leave a void in your psyche that your psyche will anxiously want to fill.

Simply removing a belief is extraordinarily difficult, but expanding a belief is surprisingly easy.
So let's examine four methods for expanding a belief.
Method One:
If you don't like it, redefine it. Words have meaning. People tend to take the meaning of words for granted. But when you redefine and expand your meanings, you also expand your perspective. Start by examining how you define the ideas, values, relationships and possessions that are important to you. When you look at how you define things, you often find clues to the nature of your beliefs. Begin to pay attention to the meanings that you assign words. Ask yourself, "Do your definitions limit you, or expand you?" Don't take your definitions for granted. Your definitions define your life.

Method Two:
Argue your opponent's perspective. Too often, we dismiss opposing perspectives without bothering to explore their value. But when we fail to explore opposing perspectives, we limit our ability to learn from those perspectives. After all, if you don't understand an opinion enough to explain it and debate its merits, then you probably don't understand it enough to automatically dismiss it. Moreover, when you practice exploring alternative perspectives, you often discover the merits, similarities and weaknesses of your own.

Method Three:
Actively seek out mind food. You must devour great works of literature, poetry, art, philosophy, movies, documentaries and minds. Whenever you study the works of brilliant minds, you open your thoughts to those minds and glimpse an alternative way of interpreting the world.

Method Four:
Study other cultures. Learn words from other languages, words that have no English translation. The Hopi language doesn't define time the way English does. Many aboriginal people don't define ownership the way modern Americans do. The ancient Celts had no word for adultery. The Lakota language has no word for I. We can learn a lot about our own definitions by studying the cultures, perspectives and languages of other people.

So what's the bottom line?
The most fundamental changes in life happen when we redefine who we are. When we see ourselves differently, we think differently. When we think differently, we feel differently. When we feel differently, we behave differently, and we don't need some quick-fix technique to control ourselves, or others.

So open your mind and explore your definitions. Your life will expand proportionately...