The Power You Don’t Know You Have

If you want to have more success, stop caring about what others think. And stop feeling that you’re obliged to do anything for another, aside from a responsibility you freely took on.

These two errors undercut people more than any others I know of, by far. They undercut you in business, in everyday life, in personal or family relationships, or in any aspect of life.

Take it from a therapist who knows. Hours, hours and hours of therapy are spent trying to correct and/or undo the damage of these two basic errors. Tens of thousands of dollars in medications are spent trying to somehow correct the errors, as if the problems were physiological in nature, which most problems are not — and these two problems are certainly not.

New thinking starts with a choice. “I’m not going to think that way any longer. I have been programmed to think a certain way, both by others and ultimately by myself. But I can change that thinking any time.”

Watch out for perfectionism. “I successfully changed my thinking in one instance. But then I fell back in the old thinking again. I’ll never change.” No way is that true. If you changed once, you can change multiple times. You just have to keep trying. Giving up is not an option, because willfully engaging in erroneous thinking is the worst thing you can do to yourself.

What others think does not matter. If someone tells you something that is rational and logical — well, then, by all means listen to it. But it takes your OWN mind to judge something as logical and rational. How many times have you said to yourself, “I followed what so-and-so said, because he seems to be logical and intelligent. But it didn’t work out for me.” You can’t blame so-and-so for your own choice to blindly follow somebody else. There are no shortcuts around thinking. You have to think for yourself. If something is worth doing, it’s worth thinking out. Otherwise, you’ll never own your accomplishments — or your errors. And if you don’t own your errors, you’ll never grow and change as needed.

Also, you don’t owe your life to others. You don’t owe anybody anything, unless you freely take on an obligation. If you choose to have a child, then you better believe that this child is your responsibility. You chose to be a parent, after all. If you promise somebody that you’ll do something for them, then you should keep your word. The pride and integrity of saying only what you mean, and meaning what you say, is more important from a self-interest point-of-view than from anything else. You have to be able to live with yourself and look in the metaphorical mirror without ambivalence or conflict. You owe that to yourself.

As for others who claim that you owe them … well, just because. Don’t listen to it! This is the most toxic form of nonsense known to mankind. “You’re doing better than I am. Must be nice. Give me some of what you have.” This can apply to material or non-material things. Either way, it’s wrong. Your success or progress is not at the cost of anyone else. If you lied or stole, then that’s wrong, of course. But outside of lying or stealing, you have nothing to feel guilty about. The world is full of people — in the very highest offices in the land, as it turns out — who tell you explicitly, “Your success is something to feel guilty about. Give it up!” Nothing is more destructive to inner motivation, self-esteem or general good will than this. The people who seek to break your spirit often have guns or jails on their side, but believe me when I say that they ALWAYS have the force of unearned guilt on their side. Every self-help book known to mankind (of any value, at least) can be summed up this way: Don’t let abusive, irrational or toxic people make you feel guilty. It’s their issue, not yours.

I don’t care how depressed you are, or how meaningless life seems to be. I don’t care how much stupidity there is in the world — and there is plainly plenty. So long as you keep these two things in mind, you have tremendous power that precious few have (yet is open to everybody). Use it wisely.