In one of Dr. Phil shows, he interviewed a couple. The husband considered himself a very positive person who actively seeks for the good in every circumstance, situation and person. The wife said that her husband became deeply depressed. But the husband denied and said that his wife was just being negative.
The wife then showed the video recording of her husband locking himself in his room, murmuring and crying for hours. Everyone in the studio was shocked. Without the video, nobody would believe that a hyper-positive person had a deep depression issue.
We were told to think and talk positively to make ourselves happy. This husband was doing exactly that, but how did he become miserable?
To understand this, we need to know that there are several selves controlling our life. Our ego is one of them. The ego can drive us to do things in order to pursue success and happiness. But when our self-image (another “self”) isn’t in alignment, our ego cannot make us do the right things.
Motivational speakers and personal development coaches teach us the benefits and power of positive thinking. They convince us to change our old habits of negative thinking. But we easily get back to our old habits no matter how hard we try to change them.
They are right about positive thinking. But they don’t teach how to change the cause of negative thinking. People need to change their image first, then become a natural positive thinkers, only then can they achieve goals and become successful.
What is self-image?
Self-image is what we believe we are. Our beliefs define our self-image. Our belief system is formed over time since we were born, by what we learned from or influenced by our parents, families, schools, public media, cultures, religions, society, and our past experiences. We think we know our true beliefs, but we don’t.
The biggest challenge is that most of us never aware of our true beliefs. They reside in our subconsciousness. For example, we think that we love being rich. But our true belief is that we don’t like money and we are afraid of being rich. How come?
Because all the time we were told that it’s difficult to make money; that money is associated with trouble; that rich people are mean and not happy. So we are never aware that our true belief about money keeps us from being rich, no matter how hard we try or think.
We have true beliefs about relationships, wellness, and so on. They reside in our subconsciousness which forms our reference frameworks. They “tell” us what’s good or bad, right or wrong, possible or impossible. When they judge they make it like it’s our own ideas. We name our belief system “second-hand self”.
So our second-hand self runs our life automatically, and most of us live our life unconsciously. We don’t understand why things don’t work the way we wish. Because we are never aware of the existence of second-hand self.
In that real story, that husband used hyper-positive to avoid having difficult conversations with his wife and himself. He was taught to think positively to make things work. But it didn’t work. The doctor diagnosed that he had developed some serious mental issues. He didn’t aware that his second-hand self was strongly against that idea. The harder he pushed, the more pressure his second-hand self felt. Finally, he collapsed and became depressed.
Our second-hand self defines our self-image which drives our ego which makes us do or not do certain things, which become our habits. Nothing will ever work without changing our second-hand self, our belief system.
There is a way to discover our existing belief system: observation. Involve self-awareness into the play. Be aware and observe what we think or do. Ask ourselves why we think or do or react certain ways. Just by asking ourselves questions frequently, will we be able to see our second-hand self more and more clearly. Only then will we be able to change our beliefs if they do not serve our true self.
“Positive thinking can make things happen”, only when our belief system thinks the same.