Friday, February 09, 2020
What's Stopping You? (Part 3)
Deficit Thinking Ruins Lives
Whatever else you do, drop the habit of deficit thinking: concentrating on what’s wrong, what’s missing, and what’s not working, rather than what is. It’s a very poor way of looking at the world, and a major source of all kinds of limiting and negative beliefs.This is the third and final posting in this series. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
The principal source of negative beliefs is an ingrained habit of deficit thinking. This means focusing on gaps and weaknesses (the deficit) instead of what’s working (and can be made to work still better). It’s focusing on what you can’t do, not what you can. Instead of your dreams and ambitions propelling you forward, you let the gap between your current state and your desires become a source of frustration and depression.
All beliefs need regular scrutinyYou should challenge all your beliefs. All beliefs need to be checked regularly for accuracy and usefulness, so question them constantly. It’s tempting to take comfort in beliefs when life is difficult and the future is uncertain. Beliefs help you feel stable. You’ll feel uneasy about recognizing the ideas you trust could be false. But if you’re thinking clearly, you’ll see that a true belief will always stand up to scrutiny. It’s the false, outdated beliefs that must be moved out of your way. It is always worth asking yourself, “Is this true? How do I know it is true? Is it still to be trusted?”
Negative or limiting beliefs need to be subjected to especially rigorous questioning. Since they stop you from doing something, it’s hard to prove them false in any other way. When you try some idea, you find out how well it works. But when your beliefs prevent you from even making an attempts, you cannot know for sure what might have happened if you had. That’s why these belief are so pernicious: they remove options and possibilities without testing them—or, usually even considering them properly.
Here’s how to get rid of deficit thinking
- Don’t waste energy looking for gaps and deficiencies. You’ll always find plenty, especially if you set your standards so high at the start that there’s no way you can even come close. That’s like deciding to start playing golf, then deciding that you’re no good unless you can beat Tiger Woods right away.
- Don’t assume the glass is half empty, when it’s simply half a glassful. Perfectionism can easily become a disease. Life is what it is. The skill is to be able to do something useful and fun with whatever the universe serves up.
- Don’t take fears for reality, commonplace thoughts for truth, and worries for real problems. Nearly all such opinions and thoughts are wrong and the problems don’t exist outside your mind. Many people fall into the habit of over-dramatizing their lives, perhaps to make them feel more exciting than they are. But when you play up the good parts, you do the same (or more) to the bad ones. Look at the media. How many good news items do you see, compared to all the ones promising doom and gloom?
- Quit taking yourself so damn seriously. Life is uncertain and difficult enough without adding to your problems. Slow down, relax, and chill out. It’s good to be insignificant. It lets you have fun while all the pompous, important types are giving themselves ulcers.
- Don’t buy the foolish idea you have a right to be happy. There’s no such right. Sometimes you’ll feel happy, sometimes sad, and very often neither. That’s the way life is. Get used to it.
- Stop watching your emotions. They’re not worth it. They go up, then down, then up again: random gyrations like the stockmarket. No one really knows why, whatever they try to tell you—not even mental health professionals. You can’t will your emotions go or stay where you want, so quit driving yourself nuts by trying.
- Don’t casually pick up beliefs from other people. If you saw a slice of pizza lying on the sidewalk, would you pick it up and eat it? No? Then why do so many people pick up beliefs and assumptions from just about anyone and swallow them down without a moment’s hesitation? They’re even more likely to contain something toxic than the pizza. What you put in your head can poison you as easily as something you put in your mouth.
Free yourself from the tyranny of useless beliefsThe commonest source of the fears that weigh us down is some unexamined belief about what is “normal” or “standard.” Here’s an example. One company I worked in had a common belief that anyone who hadn’t been promoted to a serious management position by the age of 30 was never going to be promoted. There was no basis for this belief, but it persisted. The results were predictable. People of 29 lived in constant fear of being “passed over.” By age 31, anyone not promoted had already left to find another job.
A good way to start clearing up the problems in your life is by throwing away all your old, wrongheaded beliefs and assumptions. Many of them will be plain wrong; others will be long past their “sell by” date. Most people carry around a heavy load of such mistaken beliefs about the world, themselves, and others: beliefs that stir up negative emotions and behaviors; assumptions that cause deficit thinking; and a host of other habitual ways of seeing the world virtually guaranteed to limit their achievements and cause them unnecessary suffering.
Take them out and question them mercilessly. If they’re still true and sound, you have nothing to lose. They’ll come out of the process unscathed. If they aren’t useful any more—and many, many won’t be—drop them immediately. Then make sure you repeat the process often. Today’s knowledge quickly gets stale. Yesterday’s beliefs soon become moldy. Don’t let them fill your mind with outdated ideas and cripple you with deficit thinking.
EG: "I don't get on with people" could be challanged with "what would it feel like if you did get on with people"...
Her book can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Time-Think-Listening-Ignite-Human/dp/0706377451/sr=1-1/qid=1171280939/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-5086503-5542348?ie=UTF8&s;=books
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