title:Tug of War

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author:Donna Doyon
date_saved:2007-07-25 12:30:18

Opportunity knocks on your door. How do you respond?
The voices you hear in your head will probably play a major part in your decision on whether to open the door or not. If they are encouraging and uplifting, thrilled that you are finally being recognized for this venture, and already tossing out ideas for making it a delightful experience, you will probably open the door with enthusiasm and determination to succeed.
If, however, the voices are questioning your abilities, reminding you of past mistakes, comparing you with other people, or telling you aren’t worthy of the opportunity or up the challenge, you will probably hide beneath the table and hope it goes away.
Most of us deal with a mix of positive and negative inner voices. We waiver between feeling like we can accomplish anything, to feeling like we are foolish for trying. The quality of our lives will depend on which voice we listen to most often.
If we listen mostly to the positive voice, we will accept challenges and try new things. We will accept failure as a natural part of the learning process and will turn that failure into some other opportunity. We will rise above the limits that the negative inner voice places upon us. We will use the energy from each success to propel us even closer to our dreams.
If, however, we listen mostly to the negative voice, we will find excuses to avoid challenges. We will see failure as a sign of weakness, incompetence and ridicule. Rather than take a chance on new things, we will play life safe. We will never credit our accomplishments or accept responsibility for our mistakes because we will be victims of people, circumstances, or fate.
When opportunity knocks on your door, which voice do you answer with? Do you ever find yourself playing “Tug-of-war” to decide the winner? Are your negative thoughts on one end of the rope, your positive thoughts on the other end? Do they pull back and forth until finally one side collapses in a heap on the other side of the center line?
Do the negative thoughts win more often than the positive ones? Do negative thoughts send your opportunities away by ignoring them when they knock or slamming the door in their face?
If your negative thoughts won the competition, you need to work on your inner strength. Just like you can build strength in the muscles in your body, you can add strength to your attitudes. Begin with one set of positive repetition. To increase strength, add more repetitions and then more sets. How do you do this?
Initially, you just need to recognize these negative thoughts when they occur.
“Oh, there’s a negative thought.”
Next, you need to question every negative thought. Is it accurate? Is it important? Is it easier to think this way than take responsibility for the next course of action you will need to take? Am I hearing put-downs from my past that I’ve outgrown? Am I trying to appear humble? Am I assuming something about someone else (their willingness to help, their needs, their priorities)?
Sometimes you will not be able to overcome these self-defeating voices in your mind. Sometimes these voices come from people around us, sometimes from people who claim to love us. In these cases, seek out additional help. Read books, talk to a counselor, a pastor, or an optimistic friend. Remind yourself of past successes and accomplishments. Give yourself credit for your part in accomplishing goals—don’t downplay your contributions to a team effort. Recognize your strengths and use them often. Ask others to help you turn your weaknesses into strengths.
It takes time to build strength in both our muscles and our attitudes. If we stop exercising our muscles quickly return to the weakened state of disuse.
By doing these things, you should be able to turn that tug-of-war game into a one-sided match. The positives should be able to overcome the negatives with one quick, confident pull.

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