Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Self-Development

When I decided to study Psychology many years ago, one of the main reasons which encouraged me to choose such a discipline was the belief that the more we know about ourselves, the more opportunities we might have in life. Several years later and with a Psychology degree under my belt, I can say that I have learned a great deal about how and why certain behaviours occur. When I wrote about failure in my previous post, studying Psychology helped me very much because it shed a lot of light on the issue of human learning as well as coping mechanisms. Of course, it is one thing to know the theory and something else to start applying various principles to one's own life.

Over the past few years, I have come across several books, individuals, and Internet presentations which highlight the importance of thought in our daily lives. At the moment, I am reading an extremely interesting book called The Answer: Your Guide to Achieving Financial Freedom and Living An Extraordinary Life by John Assaraf and Murray Smith. A great deal of the material that I have read so far in this book is consistent with my Psychology studies. The contents are also in harmony with several scientific ideas that are normally found in Physics books.

Whilst reading the aforementioned book, I was really struck by the following sentence: "Thought creates everything". Perhaps this made such an impression on me because only two weeks ago, somebody asked me: "Do you know what is the most powerful thing in the universe?". I said, "Love?". His answer was "Thought".

As I kept thinking about the power of thought, I realised how certain beliefs we might have about numerous things can become so entrenched that they become habitual. Put differently, such thoughts become automatic. Sadly, some people might have incorporated so many negative thoughts during their lives that it might not be so surprising to see them living in very unpleasant situations.

Let us go back to the issue of coping with failure. If, say, John fails his English O-level exam, he might convince himself that his result meant only one thing - that he is "not good" when it comes to English. By repeating this thought over and over again until it becomes a dogma, it is extremely likely that John will not even consider the possibility that he failed his exam because he did not dedicate enough time to study. Or perhaps he was not using the best studying techniques.

When thinking about it, it is quite scary to imagine how many people have blocked themselves in several ways because of what other people have said to them over and over again. Parents, teachers, relatives, partners, friends...all of these individuals might have had a strong impact on the thoughts we hold today.

The worst thing is that like attracts like (this is known as the Law of Attraction). If I convince myself that I am fundamentally hopeless in Chemistry, I can only aspire to creating more situations in which I am going to fail.

If one wants to develop or to progress in life, it is important for each person to examine their thoughts. A good way to start is by asking oneself: what do I say to myself when faced with certain situations in life? What do I say to myself when I fail an exam? What do I say to myself when I get a poor review at work? What do I say to myself when I am rejected by a person I fancy? Surprisingly, you might discover that in the areas in which your "self-talk" is almost always positive, it is very hard to find any negative experiences.

To conclude, I believe that life is a journey during which we should be constantly trying to develop or to progress. As we acknowledge our potential and transform our negative thoughts into positive ones, we will realise that we have so many beautiful opportunities in life! Of course, nobody ever said that it is easy to change thoughts that have been repeated over and over again for countless years. But it is never too late to start changing! So...what are you thinking about now??? :)


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11 comments:

ninuhadida said...

Another fabulous post David! :)

Totally agreed on your point, i.e. that thoughts are so powerful.

I can relate this with my own personal experiences, for example, I spent 2 years taking Italian classes at secondary school (because they were mandatory) I was just so not interested, that even though we had approx 2hrs a week for two years, including several tests which I had to sit for, I was just determined to rebel and have a "don't care" attitude, that I pulled it off, and managed to not learn a single thing.

Same with French, that one is even worse, 5 years and I can barely manage to come up with a phrase.

And it was the other way round with Computer, my favourite studies. Although I did learn a lot of stuff during classes, most of my knowledge comes from my determination to learn more about the subject.

So yes, thoughts are very very powerful.

Keep up the great posts David, always leaves me begging for more posts from you to read!

La delirante said...

I agree with Ninuhadida Red, It is a fabulous post. I can't thank you enough for having helped me to see life's brightest colours. You have certainly helped me to avoid seeing only the negative side of things and instead focusing in the positive things that we experience everyday. It has truly changed my life.

Tess said...

Hi Red,
Wen told me you were reading this book. The 'power of thought' concept sounds really interesting; I've read about it in the past but would like to read something on the subject again, would you recommend the book?

I started to study Psychology but never finished, I couldn't work and study at the same time back then, perhaps in the future since Psychology is still something I'm really interested in. I found out though that most people I know who studied Psychology never end up using their knowledge in a professional way, I wonder why that is ;)

Red said...

Ninuhadida: Thanks a lot for the nice words! :) Since I started reading the book I mentioned in my latest post, I have not been able to stop wondering about the power of thoughts. The more you keep thinking about something, the more you are going to get of that thing in your life!

You mentioned your experiences at school. Well, I remember that when I was in secondary school, I convinced myself that I was not good in Physics. Not surprisingly, my grades in Physics were not particularly good! During the last year of secondary school (Form 5), I decided to give Physics a try; for the first time, I started dedicating some proper time to studying the subject and doing my homework diligently. At the end of the first semester, my score in Physics was among the highest in the class and it was higher than the scores I achieved in respect of the subjects in which I had considered myself to be "good". To me, that experience showed me that if you really want to achieve something in life, you CAN do it!

Unfortunately, as we go through the Maltese educational system, there are many people along the way who try to indoctrinate us into believing that we are good in some subjects and hopeless in others. Of course, if you are not a very introspective person who reads self-development literature, it is very likely that you will end up becoming the person you think you are, with all the respective virtues and vices!

Delirante: Very glad to hear that! Yes, it is extremely important to focus on positive thoughts as negative thinking is totally sterile and bears no fruits.

Red said...

Hi Tess!Yes, I would definitely recommend the book mentioned in my latest post. I have to say that to some people, certain assertions might sound a bit wild. Having said this, I can assure you that a great deal of the material in the book does not contradict various things that I studied as a Psychology student. I had also read a bit about Quantum Physics and the book's ideas also fit neatly with the latest findings in that area of study. I think that some people might have some trouble believing certain things because they have convinced themselves that human behaviour is subject to different laws from those that govern everything else in the universe. Consequently, one can come across a lot of fancy ideas about human behaviour which are not based on any scientific evidence. As science continues to enlighten us, more individuals will hopefully realise that we are as part of the universe as the kitchen table and the TV!

With reference to your enquiry about studying Psychology, it is a fascinating discipline. Yes, it is true that few people who graduate in it actually end up working in Psychology-related jobs. Yet, I think that this is mainly due to the fact that in many countries, if one wants to work as a Psychologist, a Master's or even a Doctorate is required! This means that when considering an area such as clinical psychology, it could take a person around 9 years from beginning to end to be able to work as one!!! Not even medical students spend so much time studying in order to become doctors! I guess that this issue discourages many potential psychologists. Having said that, studying Psychology can be very helpful, particularly on a personal level. In fact, I believe that certain aspects of Psychology should be taught in all schools around the world.

malteseken said...

Hi Red
Thanks for a very good blog again, today I posted a blog about achieving your childhood dreams by the late professor Randy Pausch which was his last Lecture before he died.

http://malteseken.blogspot.com/2008/08/achieving-your-childhood-dreams.html

it does have some similarities with your post in many ways

Red said...

Thanks for the comment! Will take a look at the article. Take care!

Anonymous said...

John Assaraf did a fantastic job cracking the entrepreneur's code and teaching people how to grow any business by first reconditioning their mind for success, in his recent book "The Answer." John is actually holding a free conference call Wednesday, August 20th @ 5pm PST. He will give his insights and tips on how to "have it all" in life. He'll also select a few lucky people to personally mentor. Check out details and register for the call here... http://www.JohnAssaraf.com/hia/challenge.htm?s=hiac2008

Tess said...

Hi Red,

thanks for your recommendation! I will definitely read it. Wen was so kind to leave the isbn for me in her comment.

I like your views on things and I totally agree with you on the insight and help Psychology could provide on a personal level. I try to keep things balanced because I noticed I tend to over-analyse at times due to 'too much' knowledge ;)

But yes, it would be great if a healthy portion of Psychology would be taught at schools!

Red said...

Thanks for your kind words, Tess! :) Yes, I think that when one has accumulated a huge amount of knowledge, it becomes so easy to over-analyse many things! :)

The notion of introducing a number of Psychology concepts in schools all over the world would, in my view, contribute to the development of more empowered individuals who can give more to society by building a stronger personal character.

Red said...

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