What is more important to someone other than their own self? Without it you are a couch potato, or even worse. It is what drives us or it is what defeats us. Having a strong self means having a strong foundation. In the 90’s there was a Saturday Night Live skit called “Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley” where Al Franken would look in the mirror and tell himself he was great. His catchphrase was “You're Good Enough, You're Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like You.”. While being on a comedy show one might think it was purely for laughs. But there is truth in what Stuart Smalley was doing. Going to bed at night and saying you’re going to sleep horribly or waking up and saying that the day is going to suck because of this or that is damaging to your brainbox. To a large extent you can say negative or positive things in your head and then play them out. The brain is amazingly powerful.
A long time ago I came across some videos that changed the way I look at situations. They told the viewer to cease from saying negative things in relation to feelings on a regular basis. An example would be saying “ugh, it is raining outside” and associating negative thoughts with rain. With dry states having on average 60 days of rain/snow and wetter states having on average 100 days of rain/snow you are setting yourself up for 16%-25% of your year starting out on a negative note. You can hear it all the time, just ask someone how they are doing on a rainy day versus a sunny day. On rainy days’ people are more apt to respond with something like “eh, ok. Kind of gloomy outside”. How is someone supposed to lead or even be remotely productive when the first thing they associate with a rainy day is unproductive thought? At the time I thought yea ok, like this is going to work. I started to use this technique in situations like rainy days, traffic, waiting for people at a restaurant, etc. I have to say it worked and I use it to this day.
This also works for your temper! If you get into situations where you have zero control, instead of getting upset just see it for what it is. In traffic? Then right now you are doing traffic. Plain and simple. You could also leave earlier, but that is not for this chapter. The other thing this technique does is allow you to define what is and is not in your control. In doing that you can really find what deserves your time and what does not. Allowing items like this to influence your self can cause a compounding cloud of crap above you. When you acknowledge the thing, like running out of milk, that has happened and then release it, you are releasing the smog that devalues you.
It might seem small, but take a week and mark down everything that you allow to penetrate your brain. Make a list with one side negative thoughts and one side positive. Track each thing that garners either of these emotions. Mark it all down, everything! Do not analyze it until the week is over, just capture the thoughts. After a week analyze this list. Look at the small things which created negative thoughts. Store was out of gum, ran out of dish washing soap, hot water ran out in shower this morning, someone made fraud charges on your card and you need to have a new card sent out to you, etc. Sure having a fraudulent card experience is a pain in the ass. I have been there multiple times. But in the end, you get a new card and move forward. You change your accounts that were linked to that card. It is a process and it doesn’t have to be a negative one. At least not wholly negative. Every time after you receive your new card and have to change it you might reference the reason you are in that situation. That brings back negative thoughts, which then influence your day.
Look at all these items and define which ones are silly. Yes, I said silly. It is silly to be upset about rain for example. You have zero control over rain, except moving to an area with less of it annually. But it still exists. Referencing an earlier statistic, if you let rain create a negative day for you, than 16% of your life is going to be negative from the get go. Creating a clean self, to take from a word that is all the rage in food in today’s world, begins with cleansing of the silly things that influence your day.
Once you define the silly things on your list, then you must make an effort the define them as nothing. They happened or are happening and that is what you are doing at that moment. If you run out of mustard, well then you are doing “I ran out of mustard”. Or you could just go buy mustard and then you are doing “I am going to buy some mustard”. Boom, done. You’re really just delaying that yummy mustard experience. Trust me it won’t taste as good if you are all pissed off running to the store to replace it.
Once you get past the silly negative things and are successful with relating to them as neutral, then move on to the more moderately negative things. So on and so on. Go down your list. This is the starting process to a clean self. Without a clean self you are not operating at full throttle, your mind is preoccupied with the trash. What do you do with the trash? You throw it away!
Referencing Stuart Smalley, there is some important knowledge about feeling positive about yourself. I have found that before I go to bed if I tell myself about what I will do in the morning, I wake up and do it. Wow, amazing right? The difference is I tell myself it will happen, it must happen, I will do it. I do not try, I do. That might sound familiar to you. If it does then you must be a Star Wars fan. Yoda's famous quote is “Do or do not. There is no try.”. If you mentally say to yourself, I am going to try to do this. Or worse yet you lead a team and say that your team is going to try and close a multi-million-dollar deal. You are already setting yourself up for failure. Now obviously you need good planning to go with sealing the deal, that goes without saying. But mentally, be sharp, be focused and be confident. Do you think when our military goes on missions they try to complete them? No, they go into them and win. Do they win them all? No. But they win more than if they would have if they “tried”.
Confidence is something you can see within 5 seconds of meeting someone. Hell you can tell during shaking someone’s hand. If you want to pitch something to an investor, and I see this all the time on the show Shark Tank, you better be confident in yourself and your business/product. That alone won’t get you the deal, having a good product you are confident in seals the deal. But who wants to dish out $250,000 to someone who is not confident in their own product? I sure as hell won’t. Be confident in yourself, your team, your plans, your products and most of all be confident in your life. If your job is not working out, leave it. Go to a place that appreciates the dominate worker that is you. You are in control of your life, not other people. Make shit happen. Having confidence provides you a self that can move mountains.
To have a clean self you must remove distractions. In today’s world one could argue that the internet, smart phones, virtual reality and the like are distractions. But, lets focus on the usage of such things. If you are, for example, getting notifications because Sally liked your photo 112 times per day, that is majorly distracting. I mean you put the photo out on Facebook in the first place, you know how damn good you look! But beside the point of your beauty, your phone in this case is demanding your attention. Almost like a puppy or a baby. But in the case of the smartphone you can decide to alter how much attention it garnishes from you, and your battery for that matter!
Using the same type of easy and quick list system we did before, make a list with columns for each app that notifies you. Messages, work emails, personal emails, smart appliances, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Make a tick mark in the related column each time it notifies you. Do this for a week. Firstly, in doing this it will reinforce in your brain which app is an attention whore. Starting with the most demanding look at what does it tell you when it notifies you and demands your attention. For the majority of apps, you can change settings for what it notifies you about. Look at what is unimportant, turn it off. You can go into the app at your leisure to get these items. No need for it to demand your attention.
For emails it is a different game with much more control. Rules in email systems have really change the game the last decade or so. We all know we get emails from people or companies that can be looked at on your time, not their time. Set up rules to send these emails to a folder and check it once a day, or twice at most like morning and night. You will be removing yourself from probably dozens of interruptions throughout your day. This is just one example of what you can do. Emails are probably the most flexible in being able to be processed to your desires.
Go through all your apps on your list. Strategically think what you need to be notified of and what you do not need to be notified about. You control what and who deserves your immediate attention, not a device. Once you remove those unneeded notifications grabbing your time and you threw away all negative silly items each day, you are on your way to a clean self. A clean self provides your someone to have a baseline clear of clutter. Your foundation needs to be concrete. Think of these silly negative things and time grabbing notifications as cracks in your concrete foundation. The more cracks it has, the weaker it becomes. You want to be strong and control your lie, not weak and out of control of your life!