By Jay Timms :I love people. That is not a crass comment. I really do. So many times in my career I have sat across from the most lovely people in the world. They are good, honest, often attractive people who spend hours in my offices and coffee houses wondering how to make their lives better.
I have one such woman I have worked with who has said that I can share a bit or her story with you all. She grew up in a family that was very “dad” dominated. Dad ruled the house with an iron fist and a violent tongue. Nothing that she or her siblings did was ever good enough. She related a story where she remembers getting 98% on her final grade for English in High School one year and her father made fun of her and berated for being too stupid to get the final 2%. When she looked in the mirror, she believed that she was ugly, stupid, fat, and worthless. We have gone through her school pictures and we noticed an interesting thing. When she was a little girl (5-8), she was a beautiful, happy little girl. As she grew older, her pictures reflected less and less of that vibrancy and she began to hide behind hair, glasses, and fat. As she sat in front of me, she was about 50 pounds overweight, wore no make-up, had her graying straw-like hair pulled back into a ponytail and looked over her glasses at me like a grandma. She was 45ish and in a relationship with a man who treated her exactly like her dad did. She still believed that she was ugly, stupid, fat, and worthless.
I am going to make an assumption that some of the people reading this will be able to relate in some way. Maybe they have a different story, maybe they hide behind big houses and lots of makeup, maybe they hide behind their title at work, or maybe they hide behind excuses about why they are still making less than the punk kids who haven’t worked there as long as they have. But deep down inside, what they see is that ugly, stupid, fat, worthless person.
Henry Ford had a really interesting saying. He said, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t…you are right.” It would be so easy for me to sit here and say, “To overcome your feelings of worthlessness, just believe that you will be better and you will.” It makes me want to throw up just writing that because I know from personal experience (take a look at the picture I have inserted in this article. That was me in grade 9) that it isn’t that easy. It takes a lot of effort and time to overcome ourselves. Let me give you one suggestion that may begin to help you along that path.
We are programmed to meet expectations. Our bodies actually crave expectations because what it does is it gives us direction. In my book, “How to Raise a Teenager Without Using Duct Tape”, I talk about how when people don’t have boundaries and expectation, it is like driving on a road with no middle line. We freak out, slow to 5 miles an hour and white knuckle it all the way. Expectations motivate people. The absolute best thing that we can give our children is expectation. As adults, it is very difficult to have higher expectations from internal sources initially. The best way to get yourself motivated is to surround yourself with people who are going to expect us to do better. Now let me clarify. There is a difference between expecting and forcing. When we surround ourselves with people who force us to do certain things, another biological principle comes into effect and we fight against the force. Expectation comes through love. People who expect us to do better accept us for who are want to be, and they expect us to get better all in the same breath. “Yes but I don’t have anyone like that”. Well…it is time to go out and find them, isn’t it? There are literally dozens of groups right there in your community that meet on a regular basis with the intent of motivating and uplifting those around them. I am not talking about religious groups (although they can be). I am talking about brainstorming, life motivating groups. They can be found in your local community organizations like book clubs, Lion’s Clubs, Networking clubs…they are everywhere.
You are the average of the 5 people you hang out with the most. If you hang out with people whose primary desire in life is to get to the next paycheck without spending too much on booze, guess who you will become. If you hang out with people who complain about their place in life and call their partners “My Old Lady” or “The Ball and Chain”, guess who you will become. On the other hand, if you hang out with people who are motivated, happy, and working towards making a difference in this world, guess who you will become. Does this mean that you may have to cut people out of your life who bring you down and don’t expect much from you? Possibly. Even if they are your partner, your best friend, or your parents? Possibly. This is your life. Make it the best you can by being around the best people you can.
Jay Timms BMT MA CCC
Author, Trainer, Researcher
Empower Training Development & Research