Within each fundamental principle of Simple Steps… Real Change, the Book I have included real life stories. The first fundamental principle, Believe in Yourself, is exemplified in the stories of Erin* & Mark*. (*names have been changed). If you haven’t yet read yesterday’s installment of the book you may want to do so prior to reading their stories.
Erin* and her Past
Erin & I worked together for many years. She was married to a loving man, Dan, whose main purpose in life seemed to be spoiling her. Erin received flowers and expensive gifts from her husband in addition to enjoying quiet, romantic times where she could feel his love.
Erin had been previously married to a physically and emotionally abusive man, Ron. They had children together. Erin raised her children with love and shielded them as much as she could from their father. By all accounts she was a loving & dedicated mother whose children adored her and supported her divorcing their dad.
In addition to being a good mother Erin was a hard worker, competent, and dedicated to her work. Yet despite all of the good things going for her Erin measured her self-worth by the comments of her ex-husband. She believed that she would not accomplish anything that she set out to do, that she was less qualified than just about anyone else, and her life was worthless. Erin’s focused on the negative aspects of her prior life and she was miserable.
It was painful to watch Erin and even harder to talk with her. Though married to her second husband for far longer than she was with her first she had never allowed the support and love of Dan triumph over the Ron’s abuse. The longer that I worked with Erin the more frustrating it was to watch. Erin became her own worst enemy.
One day when we were having a heart to heart chat about her attitude I asked her why Ron’s opinions mattered more to her than Dan’s. She was appalled that I’d even think that they did. As we talked through her negativity she came to realize that she was giving more power to her ex-husband than he ever deserved …to the detriment of her wonderful family and her career. If there ever was an “aha” moment in Erin’s life this was it.
Erin’s life did not change overnight. She did however take a Simple Step by catching her negative thoughts and comments as they came to her. By reconsidering her focus and reaching for the positive thought she began traveling the road towards believing in herself.
Mark* and his Self Image
Mark is a brilliant IT guru who has lived a colorful life. He’s funny, outgoing, has traveled the world, and enjoys a variety of sports. From the outside has all the trappings of a good life (good job, close friends, nice home, sports car.) Mark however believes that he will never find his soul mate because of how he looks. He sees himself as short, bald and generally unattractive. Mark is a gregarious guy, though when he gets nervous around someone he would like to date; his comments turn to self-deprecating jokes.
Women are attracted to Mark because he is a caring and funny guy. By all accounts he is a great date. Mark is actually a cute teddy bear kind of guy. What he didn’t realize was his self-image issues were more than his dates wanted to deal with.
Mark met a kindred soul in Amy. They enjoyed the same food, movies and liked to travel. Amy was a petite girl, highly educated, and so good at her craft that she tended to scare most men away. She enjoyed Mark’s company and felt that she had found the man that she could spend the rest of her life with.
Mark’s insecurity however kept him from seeing the opportunity for happiness that was waiting for him with Amy.
Amy grew tired of Mark’s self deprecating ways. She decided to end their relationship rather than continue in the negativity that Mark defined for himself.
While there is no “Happy Ever After” in this story there is a valuable lesson. When you put yourself down you are doing so because you lack self confidence. In many ways you are protecting yourself from failure by demonstrating that you couldn’t succeed anyway. When you learn to drive out the negativity and replace it with supportive and positive words and images you gain confidence. It is then that you realize that you are on the road to “Believing in Yourself!”
Tomorrow I’ll introduce you to the first Simple Step which will assist you in converting any negative thought that you have into a positive, supporting one.