Acknowledge Your Positive Past
This next article is part of an ongoing series here at TSB Magazine called The Success Principles. The series is based on the 64 principles laid out by Jack Canfield in his course of the same name. If youre new, I always suggest starting any series from the beginning.
Principle 26: Acknowledge Your Positive Past
This next principle is similar to principle 21 Keep Score for Success. I think Canfield purposely brought this point back up because of the sheer power of implementing it.
The fact is, no matter how hard we try to keep a positive attitude in the present, our brain is hardwired to search our past and remind us of our failures and mistakes. Even when we realize this, it is still easy to slip into this frame of mind.
For the first 18 years of my life I was horrible with women. My self esteem was down the drain, as I could barely muster the courage to talk a girl. Since turning 18, I’ve had way more ups then downs with women. I have consistently dated fun attractive girls. Yet, whenever I am single, I still find myself thinking to myself thoughts like “see you just don’t do well with girls” or “I messed up again.”
For some reason our failures are much more ingrained in our minds than our successes. It is usually like this with all aspects of life. We think of all the opportunities we blew, the shots we missed, the deals we couldn’t close, and then people we let slip away. But what we usually forget, is that for every failure we probably had 10 small successes.
The biggest problem with dwelling on past failures is that is fills your mind with fear and doubt in the present. How can you expect to be a success if you keep focusing on how you failed in the past.
Research has shown over and over again that the more you acknowledge your past successes, the more confident you become in taking on and successfully accomplishing new ones. Knowing that you have had success in the past will give you the self confidence that you can have more success in the future.
One of the Success Principle Review Exercises I laid out for you was to create a success journal. If you’ve been consistently writing your small and large successes in this journal… then congratulations for following through. Unfortunately I know as well as anybody that sometimes we need to be told to do something three or four times before it really sinks in and we commit to trying it.
Canfield probably knows this and it is probably why he repeats similar principles throughout the book. I’ve listened to the entire audio course over ten times and I still learn something new each time.
Canfield gives a simple way to begin an inventory of your successes:
Start by dividing your life into three equal time periods- for example, if you are 30 years old, your three time periods would be from birth to 10, 11 to 20, and 21 to 30. Then list three major successes you’ve had for each time period.
If you are particularly hard on yourself then commit to listing one hundred successes that you’ve had throughout your life. These can be anything from your first kiss to learning how to drive stick shift to getting a promotion at work. You can even go back to elementary school and include things like winning spelling bees, hitting a homerun in T-ball, or learning to ride a bicycle. The goal is to get to 100. Try it now.
The more you remind yourself of your successes, the more you will begin to think of yourself as “the kind of guy who is successful.” Self image is a powerful concept. You need to feed it with the positive, or else the negative will take the upper hand.
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About Bobby Rio I'm Bobby Rio, one of the founders of TSB. I tend to write about what is on my mind so you'll find a mix of self development, social dynamics and dating articles/experiences. For a collection of some of my favorite articles check them out.