The Blog

Always, Sometimes, Never

What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are.

~ C. S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew

Always, sometimes, never…if you’ve ever taken multiple-choice exams in school, you’re very familiar with this upgraded version of the true or false question.  What you might not realize is that they weren’t simply testing your knowledge of math or history or science.  They were reinforcing patterns of thinking and training you to perceive the world in very definite ways.

The words we choose in everyday conversation reflect what we truly think about ourselves, other people, and life in general. We give more attention and importance to some ideas and experiences than others, consciously or unconsciously. When our perception doesn’t quite match objective reality, things get "lost in translation". Psychologists call this cognitive distortion.  Two of the most common cognitive distortions - dichotomous thinking and overgeneralization – sound a lot like something out of one of those dreaded high school multiple-choice tests.

Dichotomous, or all or nothing thinking, is the tendency to see things as black-or-white, right-or-wrong with nothing in between. Statements like, If I’m not perfect, I’m a complete failure, or I didn’t finish the project so it was a total waste of time, are good examples.   Overgeneralization is the perception of a global pattern of negatives based on a single experience.  The person who overgeneralizes frequently uses words like “always” and “never”, as in I never catch a break, or She always does things like that.

Having structure and pattern in our thinking isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Constructive paradigms help us manage unpredictability and give us a sense of control over circumstances.  But when we view the world through a distorted lens, those patterns of thinking turn into limiting beliefs that keep us from achieving our highest goals.  We can avoid getting trapped in a mental prison of our own making by having an open mind about our perceptions. The easiest way to do this is to ask ourselves the simple question, “Is this really true?” whenever we notice ourselves reacting automatically to one of life’s inevitable challenges.

To Your Best Life!

Margery


Winning

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward. 

~ Philippians 3:13-14

He started life on a less than auspicious footing, born weak and sickly and suffering from a severe speech impediment.  Then at the age of seven his father died. He was left a generous inheritance, but unscrupulous guardians took advantage of their position.  They stole much of his estate and left little for his education and living expenses.  The future looked rather dim for a frail, awkward and fatherless child with a severe stutter. The boy’s delicate physique made him unsuitable for gymnastic training or a military career. Motivated by a desire to sue his guardians and reclaim his inheritance, he set his sights on a most unlikely goal - to become an orator. 

He retreated to a dark underground study and began an intense program of rhetoric and voice exercise. He practiced speaking with his mouth full of pebbles in order to overcome his inarticulate and stammering speech.  He recited verses while running or out of breath, and shouted his lines into the wind and waves at the seashore to build stamina.  He rehearsed in front of a mirror to improve his presentation and pronunciation.  Despite all this work, his first efforts at public speaking drew laughter and scorn from the audience. He found himself at the age of 20 without his fortune, with no trade or profession and little prospect of success.  However, he remained committed to his goal and kept on training. 

You will never encounter a shortage of naysayers in life. If you seek people willing to point out your shortcomings or remind you of your failures, you’ll surely find them.  But you know in your heart the vision you were created to achieve, no matter how unrealistic it seems to others.  Success has always belonged to those who look at every day as a fresh opportunity to overcome adversity, and who confidently press on through obstacles to win the prize.

Demosthenes went on to become one of the most influential and respected lawyers and politicians in all of Athens.  He developed a lucrative career as a speechwriter, and eventually gained fame for his own eloquence and rhetorical skill.  History remembers him as the most famous orator of the classical world.  What prize are you being called to claim?  What goal will you press on to reach?

To Your Greatness!

Margery 


The Importance of Being Yourself

This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.

~ William Shakespeare; Hamlet

In a world where ethical relativism seems the norm, the rare person who stands on clear principles is a source of inspiration.  Integrity is a quality we esteem in ourselves and in others.  But what does it mean to have integrity?

The English word integrity derives from the Latin integer, meaning whole or entire.  The idea of wholeness, the state of being undivided, is the essence of integrity.  We commonly define this trait as honesty, soundness of moral character, and adherence to moral and ethical values. It also means matching words with deeds, acting in alignment with one’s deeply held beliefs regardless of the consequences.

Being a person of integrity starts with clearly defining your core values.  These are your non-negotiables, the ethical and moral principles on which you will not compromise. When you allow the “still small voice” within to be your guide on matters of right and wrong, you feel whole and at peace with yourself.  Being one and undivided with your values means that you don’t have to waste energy on maintaining a false identity for others. Because you’re consistent inside and out, you’re free from the constant stress of having something to hide.

Integrity is an important predictor of success.  Individuals who live and work with integrity are seen as dependable, honest and courageous. Colleagues and superiors trust them because they keep their word. People of integrity take complete responsibility for their actions, and are likely to be promoted to leadership positions where they become inspirational role models for others to follow. When faced with a choice, they will ask themselves, “If my decision were front page news, would I feel good about it?” and more importantly, “Will I feel good about myself if I do this?”

Integrity is a way of being every day, and not just something to live by when it’s convenient or easy. It involves the big choices and the little choices, the public ones and the very private ones.  In the words of British author C.S. Lewis, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching.” 

To Your Greatness!

Margery 

What Do You Expect?

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 

~ Mark 11:24

Everything we create in the physical world starts as an idea. Our thoughts are the blueprints for what we want to manifest in our lives. We attract whatever we strongly believe, think about, or imagine most vividly, a concept made popular most recently as the Law of Attraction.

In the private workshop of the mind, we mobilize the power of thought to envision possible futures, form plans and rehearse new roles.  The results we produce depend on two opposite forces working in tandem: desire and expectation. Desire is the driving power that moves us in the direction of our vision. Expectation is the magnetic force that attracts this vision in our direction.

We create our own self-fulfilling prophecies primarily by what we expect for ourselves. Positive expectations tend to attract positive results.  However, too many people tentatively “hope” for the best but actively expect and prepare for the worst. It’s impossible to hold these two conflicting thoughts simultaneously. Since the stronger force will prevail, we will always get what we expect over what we hope for. 

Expectation can be either a blessing or a curse - the choice is entirely our own. We alone can decide whether to focus our mental energy on what we want or on what we fear.  We can optimize our results in life by imagining only the best outcome, requesting the assistance of a Higher Power in the form of prayer, and believing/expecting that we have already received what we most desire.

To Your Best Life!

Margery 

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