08/28/2012 11:56 EDT | Updated 10/28/2012 05:12 EDT

The Slacker's Guide To Success -- Step Three: Breaking the Negative Thought Cycle



This is the fourth installment of The Slacker's Guide To Success, based on my work with teens, young adults and their families. The introduction can be found here. The first step can be found here. Step two can be found here.

Step Three: Mindsets

Blain had all the talent required to be an outstanding runner. He had a great stance, he ran like the wind and he could go for miles. But he always faltered at the finish line, coming in 3rd or 4th when he had the lead in each and every race until just before the finish line, when he would slow down and look back.

It turns out Blaine had always been fast for his age but this was unbeknownst to his parents and so far back ago that Blain himself could barely remember it. Yet, this was the incident that had limited his ability to succeed. At six years old, Blaine had challenged one of the "big kids" on the street to a race. As the race began Blaine shot ahead as usual and this made the big kid angry. As they got towards the end of the block, the big kids tripped Blaine and reached the goal first, laughing and taunting Blaine.

How could a memory buried so deep and probably forgotten have such a powerful effect throughout our lives? These instances which limit our abilities to succeed in one way or the other are called "false epiphanies." Moments from a painful time in our youth, where we decided that we would be self-limiting to protect ourselves...

For Blaine, it was: "if I am winning, someone will be right behind me to trip me up" or "If I succeed x won't like me" or "If kids are only my friends because I succeed, I don't need friends" or "It's always my x who succeeds and no one cares how I do" or "Why bother, I can't succeed anyways" or "If I try and I fail again, it will hurt too much" or "I don't deserve to succeed."

At some point in our childhood, we have had some negative incidents happen to us that have caused us to be self-limiting. These become tapes playing in our heads so often that we don't even notice what they say anymore but they effect every decision we make. Once we can discover these subconscious beliefs, we can change the childhood loops and we then become free to make healthy new choices.

Here is an example of changing the loops:

a) Pick something that you say to yourself over and over again that is self-limiting, eg:

"I can't x"; "I'll never be able to do y"; "everyone seems to be able to z except me"; etc.

b) Now imagine that you are the perfect coach and this person (you) is your client. What if that coach had heard the self-limiting belief being said aloud? If that thought was removed, what possibilities for success would your client have?

c) Picture how they could succeed: What practices would it take? What belief in themselves would it take? What would they have to hear from you when they tried and it didn't work at first? Choose one sentence to say for each of these.

d) Write them down.

e) Go to a mirror and look into your eyes. Have the coach part of yourself tell the child part of yourself these positive words for a few minutes every day. Picture what it would feel like to succeed this way. Feel how you would feel and make that feeling something deep inside you that you can draw upon at any time. Hear the sounds that would accompany that success.

You have now moved from poverty consciousness (lack) to abundance consciousness (you can do anything if you keep trying). Keep doing this every day and you will find that you automatically start making small choices that bring you closer and closer to your successes.

It isn't quick. It isn't easy but it works.

"Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success". Dale Carnegie

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Graphics by Nick Robinson