In my post Embracing Your Identity, I mentioned a hideous quiche – it was later described by a friend as “rustic” – and my feelings of inadequacy concerning it. I was bringing it to a party, you see, where I knew there would be a horde of preening critics of another culture who didn’t seem to understand who I was or anything I did and who would rip my flawed pie crust to shreds with their malice.
You know what? The quiche was fine. Everyone enjoyed it, it was devoured immediately, and they said it looked great.
And what’s amazing about this entire happening was that no one had changed. Everyone I thought would be there was there. Our cultural differences were still there. Only one element had changed, and that was me and my attitude.
In that same blog I wrote about ways I planned on embracing my identity and displaying it to the world. So I tried it. I was very much myself, I focused on the people I enjoyed, I forced myself to assume positive things instead of negative. And it was wonderful. It was liberating. It was illuminating.
There had never been any evil cultural bias. There was no malicious patronizing. There was no one looking at me and thinking I was inadequate. It was me. It had always been me. Which brings me to this fantastic, uplifting, empowering, beautiful point:
The people around us do not hate or disapprove of us. We attribute and implant those feelings within ourselves, and that’s the only place they exist.
Negative thinking creates the majority of the problems in our relationships, our self-image, our abilities, and our personal achievements. But we all do it. Why? I think that’s like asking, “Why do we gain weight unless we take action to prevent it?” Because we live in a society with fatty foods, not enough exercise, and too many sedentary activities, and our bodies are predisposed to put on weight after we retain a certain number of calories. Similarly, we live in a society full of competition, distrust, and lack of communication, and unless we take proactive measures, we are predisposed to become negative.
To avoid weight gain, we need diet and exercise. To avoid negativity, we need to ingest positive association and exercise our positive thinking ability. “Oh,” you might say, “That sounds easy enough.” Perhaps you weren’t paying attention. Do you enjoy dieting? Do you like going to the gym on Saturday morning for spin class? Maybe after you’re accustomed to it and you begin to enjoy the effects, sure. But definitely not at first.
When we try to force ourselves to think positively – and I use the word “force” very deliberately, because that’s what it takes – our negative minds fight back. Just when we think, “Hey, maybe this quiche is ok,” our minds jump into action. “Ok? Have you seen this quiche? It looks like you left it in the oven for four hours! Look at the flaws! Look at the cracks! Look at how shriveled this spinach leaf is compared to the rest!”
Fortunately, there is a cure. Like we train our bodies, we need to train our brains. And here’s the reason this is fantastic: All our foes, all the people that hate us, all the reasons we fail, will change. Foes will become friends, the people who hate us will begin to like us, and the reasons we fail will disappear. When we take charge of our lives and responsibility for our feelings, we become happy.
“What we’re finding is that it’s not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality.”