Your Subconscious Never Sleeps

I have one final thought about negativity. Some people are not nearly as hard on themselves as they should be: they never take responsibility (or blame) for anything, never think they need to improve themselves (physically, spiritually, emotionally, relationally), but some people are far too hard on themselves.

I know a number of women who are VERY hard on themselves. (Why is it always women?!) No matter how much they are doing, or how well, they belittle their accomplishments (it was nothing) and berate themselves for not doing more.

We believe one negative comment more than the positive comments by a dozen other people about the same subject. Isn’t that true? Don’t you obsess about the ONE person who doesn’t like you or the ONE criticism you received instead of thinking about the numerous people who do like you and the multitude of compliments you received?

Well, it’s not bad enough that we put more stock in others’ criticisms and negative thoughts, we also put more value and emphasis on the negative self-talk that goes on in our heads than what anyone else thinks. (Incidentally, this is one bit of evidence that we can’t depend on other people to make us happy, but I digress!)

Last night I was reading Chuck Norris’ book, The Secret Power Within, Zen Solutions to Real Problems. Chuck Norris is a devoted Christian, but with his extensive martial arts training has taken a lot of life advice and wisdom from Zen Buddhism. The following is a quote from his book:

[Y]ou believe the thoughts you send yourself, your subconscious thoughts, more than the words of others, so make those thoughts positive, one at a time, and then make them move together in time with your life. If you learn to think positively, your subconscious will go along, even working for you while you sleep. You sleep; it [your subconscious] doesn’t. . . .

Learn to think kindly of yourself, to pay yourself the respect you’d pay someone else. Learn to greet yourself the way you’d greet a stranger – politely, open to the possibility that you might be about to make a friend for life, aware that the person standing in front of you could be anyone, could come from anywhere, could be about to accomplish anything. The stranger could be about to make any number of dreams come true. And having greeted the stranger, realize that all those things are equally true of yourself, standing on the path of life. At any given time or any given place, you may be about to accomplish the dream of a lifetime – yours – but only if you open yourself up.This idea is similar to the visualization athletes perform – they see themselves making the perfect tackle, the perfect basket, winning the gold metal by performing their routine perfectly, and succeed. Any athlete will tell you if you don’t visualize (or worse, if you visualize NEGATIVE outcomes), you will fail.



This has also been proven with dieting. Overweight people who constantly told themselves they were fat, ugly, out of shape had a much harder time sticking to a diet and exercise regimen than those who saw themselves as thin, in control, and successfully making changes to their diet and activity levels. Think about it, if you think you’re a worthless failure, would you be more or less likely to eat the tub of ice cream?

Chuck Norris is right about your subconscious not sleeping. Haven’t you noticed when you’ve started a new job or something challenging, you work on it all night in your sleep and wake up exhausted, wondering if your boss will at least pay you half time?

We are so much harder on ourselves than strangers. Further, it seems like those who do the most and work the hardest are the WORST on themselves. As I said at the beginning of this post, some people really do need to try harder to improve some (or all!) aspects of their lives. There are a lot of people in this world who aren’t bad, per se, but they think they were put on this earth to sleep, go to work, watch TV, sleep, and do it over and over. Then there are those who try to improve most (or every!) aspect of their lives and they feel guilt over any shortcoming, real or imagined.

Here’s my suggested measuring stick: as long as you’re making a diligent effort and you’re making forward progress, you’re doing far better than a good portion of the population and need to tell yourself so! The old aphorism says that if you are wondering if you’re crazy, you must not be, because truly crazy people don’t know they’re crazy. Well, as long as you’re aware that you need improvement and you’re working on it, give yourself a break.

Here’s another measuring stick: If you talked to your kids, your spouse, your best friend, the way you talk to yourself, would they be emotionally scarred? Would you be a horrible parent, spouse, friend? Then why are you talking to yourself that way?!


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