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Over the last few weeks I have been teaching my Sociology class about the various forms of oppression that exist in society and the human inclination to group people and treat people differently according to a person’s collective (race, religion, sex). During this time, I have also been reading Steven Pressfield’s thoughts on collective fundamentalism and Napolean Hill’s thoughts on auto-suggestion. The combination of these concepts has revealed some enlightening thoughts.
We hate too much
I do it, famous people do it, some of you reading this probably do it — we hate. Hate is all around us.
Just a sampling of my newsfeed right now:
Royals and Whitesox Brawl
So-and-so refuses Whitehouse Dinner Invite
Baltimore Protests Turn Violent Against Police
America’s Toughest Sheriff Admits to Having His Wife Investigated
We fill our lives with negative stories, gossip, and soul-sucking worry. We are destroying our lives with this negativity. We often spend much of our day complaining and worrying about things we cannot change.
Focus only on what we can control
In my soccer coaching days, I would try to convey to my players the message to only worry about what you can control. If the players only focus on what they can impact, it empowers the team to change for the better. But so many of us spend day after day complaining and worrying about those things we cannot control.
Author, Hal Elrod, talks about how he only allows himself five minutes to stress and worry over things in which he has no control. Hal Elrod was nearly killed by a drunk driver, hospitalized for weeks, and was told he would never walk again. Purportedly he gave himself five minutes to worry and then began to work towards recovery — miraculously he was walking within weeks.
Can you imagine if everyone only worried about themselves and what they had the power to control?
Sadly, many of us would rather worry about unreachable forces or hate on someone else rather than focus on what we can do to improve our own lives. There are entire groups of people who hate people they have never met because of some arbitrary characteristic or genetic trait. These hate groups shift the entire blame for their miserable lives from themselves to groups of people in which they have little to no interaction. Moreover, the people they hate likely have little to no actual impact on their lives.
I am reminded of the turning point scene in American History X where Dr. Sweeney, the African American school principal, asks Derek, a racist skinhead serving a sentence in prison for a hatred-based crime, “Has anything you’ve ever done made your life better?”
Derek had spent his life hating others for the misfortunes in his own life. This hate did nothing to resolve those misfortunes. In fact, they only increased the conflict and misery present in his life.
It is easy to blame this group of people or that act, of which we have no control, for this eliminates our own responsibilities for our own life.
This morning I was reading a passage from the legendary author, Napoleon Hill, explaining how man has control over his subconscious through the power of auto-suggestion.
Auto-suggestion is the practice of repeating statements to oneself in order to change behavior and attitudes stemming from our subconscious.
Psychologists have found empirically that auto-suggestion works. Self-help gurus have built empires off of the effectiveness of this principal centered around the power of positive thought.
Clearly if we spend much of our day hating and worrying about those things of which we have no control, then, insofar as auto-suggestion works, are we not setting ourselves up for misery, failure, and a behavior pattern built on the representations of hate? The point is intensified by the fact that when emotion is attached to a thought or memory, that thought is etched into our subconscious. Hate is a powerful emotion.
When you hate, you are only strengthening the negativity in your subconscious and setting yourself up for failing behaviors. Furthermore, when you feed your subconscious negativity and hate, this will transmute itself into a destructive nature.
If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don’t,
If you like to win, but you think you can’t
It is almost certain you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost
For out of the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind.
If you think you are outclassed, you are
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the man WHO THINKS HE CAN!
— Walter D. Wintle
I am 100% guilty of worrying far too much about things of which I have no control and I am certainly guilty of hating. I fully recognize it is easier to blame others for my negative consequences in my life than to take some personal ownership. But I realize I need to be accountable for my own actions and that begins with my own thoughts.
I want to end with this:
We are in control of ourselves. We do have the power to influence our own subconscious mind. If that influence is positive, life’s outcomes will be positive.
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