|Below is an excerpt from Get A Life That Doesn't Suck by Michelle DeAngelis:|
WHY YOUR THOUGHTS ARE IMPORTANT
There are several schools of (yes) thought about this whole “thoughts affect your life” business. One is “Hey, what’s going to happen is going to happen. I can’t change it.” Another one is, “I’d better not expect too much. I don’t want to be disappointed.” Yet another is “My thoughts aren’t up to me. They just happen.” And then there are those of you who already know that you’re in charge of your thoughts. You know that your state of mind = your quality of life.
So if your quality of life isn’t all that you want it to be, then it’s a good time to start paying attention to what you’re thinking.
Our thoughts are one way that we speak silently to ourselves:
These thoughts act as powerful internal programming. You may recognize this in yourself. Bill tells himself he’s “not really a leader” so he does a poor job leading. Sarah has filled out the papers for her divorce, but she can’t file them until she quiets that “You’re a quitter” voice in her head. Luke isn’t “there” for his family because he thinks about work problems instead of enjoying his family at dinner. Ann keeps telling herself “I’ll never lose weight” and, sure enough, that leaves her feeling defeated when it’s time to go to the gym, skip dessert or walk on the treadmill. There’s a resounding echo of, “You’re right, you won’t ever lose weight, so why bother?”
Your thoughts are not the boss of you. You are the boss of your thoughts and feelings and actions.
Hmm. That’s not what it seems like. What seems to be happening is this: something out there happens to you that bugs you and makes you mad, so you get angry. It just happens. It seems like basic cause and effect, not something you have control over.
But let’s look closer: something out there happens to you that bugs you and makes you mad so you get angry. It seems like people or events in the outside world determine how you think, feel and act.
And all of this happens at gunpoint?
No one can “make” you feel an emotion. You create your emotions based on what you think about a person or a situation. Situations themselves are typically neutral – neither good nor bad. If it rains on the day you’re planning a big picnic, you are likely to feel upset. If it rains on a day when your garden needs to be watered, that’s convenient. If it rains during a drought and saves your crops, you jump for joy. Each time, rain is rain. You are the one deciding whether the rain is “good” or “bad” and creating emotions that correspond with those judgments.
Below is another excerpt from Get A Life That Doesn't Suck:
WHY ITS IMPORTANT TO SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND DO WHAT YOU SAY
"Say what you mean and do what you say" is one of the most powerful Ahas to get you out of your misery and help you get a life that doesn't suck. It is all about being true to yourself and living up to your word. Very few people understand the connection between being true to yourself and being happy with yourself. This is big. Forge that link, and you will automatically boost your confidence and self-respect.
Doing what you say you will do is what lets you sleep at night. It is what lets you look in the mirror and feel good about yourself. It is what sets a powerful example for your family and friends. It is what shows people you are reliable and confident and worthy of their respect, and that translates into you having respect for yourself, which then reinforces the behavior of saying what you mean and doing what you say.
This is life-changing stuff.
Not doing what you say you will do creates self-doubt, insecurity, inner conflict, anxiety, and fear. Your good intentions are, unfortu-nately, just that. Without follow-through, you can't even count on your-self. Sucks.
And that's just the "doing" part. Then there's the whole "saying" part.
Your word holds such power! Living your word is the ultimate form of being true to yourself. When you speak, it literally vibrates in your cells. It permeates you and, all of a sudden, it tends to show up in your world. Presto! This is why it is essential to choose the right words-to say what you mean. It took me years to break the habit of saying "I'm dying to do that!" Eager, yes. Ready to die for it? Not quite. I notice other people saying things like "I'm too old for that," or "I can't afford to." Or they gossip, perpetuating negative words. In his seminal book The Four Agreements,1 Don Miguel Ruiz encourages us to create an agree-ment with ourselves to be impeccable with our word. He suggests mak-ing a pact with yourself to consciously choose the best words, with the most loving intention, that offer the greatest clarity, that can be put into action.
Or you can just pop open a beer and watch reruns. Whatever.
Sometimes it is hard to align our actions with our words. I am one of the most outspoken, get-to-the-point people you'll ever meet, but on some occa-sions I have to do it wrong before I get it right. Back when I was working in corporate America, I had 350 employees and a bunch of them reported directly to me. We went through a merger that put a few new employees in my division, so I had five employees reporting to me who had already been "Michelled" and four who had not. The newbies had a problem with being on time: Some would stroll into meetings late while others would rush in breathless, gushing some sort of explanation. So out of 10 people (me plus 9), there were always a couple of late ones. Little did they know they were messing with a recently converted on-time fanatic, the poor devils.
Meeting #1: People late again. "I expect all of you to be on time. It's a sign of respect and personal organization. Blah, blah."
Meeting #2: People still late. "You know, I was late for the first 30 years of my life. I understand late. Unless you have an urgent personal need or are bleeding from the neck, I expect you to find a way to be on time."
Meeting #3: People still late. I say nothing. It is now clear to me that my words are meaningless unless I back them up with action. No point in wasting my breath. Gotta get a plan!
Meeting #4: I make sure that there are only nine chairs in the room- one less than the number of participants. Whoever is late has to stand (and stand out, like a sore thumb) for the hour. Late person #10 makes a lovely example of what not to do.
Meeting #5: People are on time.
That's the power of saying what you mean and doing what you say.
WHY PEOPLE DON'T SAY WHAT THEY MEAN AND DO WHAT THEY SAY
People so seldom do what they say they will do that you may find yourself pleasantly surprised when it happens. Follow-through! Hallelujah. Here are some typical reasons why people don't follow through.
Sometimes it's hard. That brings to mind the great line from A League of Their Own, the movie about a women's baseball league back in the forties. Tom Hanks, who plays the team manager, says to a player who's ready to quit the team, "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't, everyone could do it. It's the hard that makes it great." Yeah, sometimes it's hard. Is "hard" a reason not to do it?
Speaking up is rude. Oh boy, we need to tawk. Women in par-ticular are often raised to be submissive or compliant. (Fortunately, I was spared this indignity since I am technically the third son.) Speak-ing your mind like a barking bulldog is rude. Speaking your mind in a respectful way is just plain smart.
It's easier to just say "yes." Blech. Maybe for that moment it's easier, but how much easier is it when you have to stay up all night to finish whatever it is you said yes to? Or when you have to make excuses for why you didn't get it done? If it's gonna hurt, why not just have it hurt all at once and fast, like ripping off a Band-Aid?
It's scary to speak up or disagree. I hate conflict. Like the rest of us love it? I hear ya. But it's more important to like yourself for speaking your mind than it is to have other people like you for not doing it. Plus, who needs the stress? A quote from the book Difficult Conversations describes this perfectly: "Choosing not to deliver a difficult message is like hanging on to a hand grenade once you've pulled the pin."2
Ruiz, Don Miguel. The Four Agreements Companion Book: Using the Four Agreements to Master the Dream of Your Life. San Francisco Rafael, California. Amber-Allen Publishing, 2000.