TRANSFORM YOURSELF FOR SUCCESS
Thomas Edison once said: "If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves."a
I shared this quote last week, and you'll most likely hear it every week -- because it sets the tone for our theme this month. This month, I want us to be astounded -- literally astounded -- with the power that lies within us - that rests within us - that is as close as our hands and feet and breath - but that we may not have fully utilized!
This power within us may be like the ancient seed found at an archeological dig a number of years ago. The archeologists calculated it to be thousands of years old. It was dry and appeared to be dead.
But, then they planted it, watered it, nurtured it with sunlight -- and the strangest thing happened. It started to grow. It took root and sprouted! Lying dormant in that seed, for millennia, was the power of Life itself ready to spring forth into manifestation if given the right environment - and we have that within us as well, just waiting to spring forth as and through us!
Our focus this month is on cultivating that power within you. We've labeled this month the success month and said you get to define success. What is it to you? Think about that for a moment. What does success mean to you? I rattled off a laundry list last week, but I would like to hear from you. What does success mean to you? (Solicit input from congregation)
Great ideas! So, however you just defined success, this is the month to astound yourself by recognizing and aligning with your inner creative power to succeed. Your power to succeed may be dormant -- lying there unexpressed like the 1,000 year old seed, but it is there, ready to be watered and nurtured so that it can express.
This series must come with a Warning Label: Practicing these principles requires something from you. You might even call it "work!" I love this statement from Meister Eckhart (German mystic in the late 1200's):
"The seed of God is in us. Given an intelligent and hard-working farmer, it will thrive and grow up to God whose seed it is; and accordingly its fruits will be God-natured."b
Each of us is the intelligent and hard-working farmer to bring the seeds of God into form!
Reminds me of the story of . . .
. . . a salesman who is going through the countryside and comes upon an absolutely gorgeous farm. He stops to chat with the farmer, who is sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch, chewing on a piece of straw.
"You have a magnificent farm, one of the most magnificent farms I've ever seen" the salesman said. "God has really done a great thing here on this farm."
And the old farmer snorts, "Yeah, I suppose so, but you should have seen what a mess it was when God had it alone."
Use Me - God needs us to shine Its light! But we have to roll up our sleeves and do something. Or, as motivational philosopher Jim Rohn so perfectly put it:
"You can't hire someone else to do your pushups for you."c
Others can give you a road map - and that is what we are doing this month using Jack Canfield's book The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be -- but you will have to drive the car!
So, last week, we laid the foundation for success by agreeing to:
* Take 100% Responsibility for Our Lives; and
* Being Clear Why We Are Here
Today, we look at the idea of "Transforming YOURSELF for Success."d
Psychologist William James once said:
"The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives."e
Or as Charles Fillmore says in Talks on Truth:
"The law of life is revealed to the mind of man through conscious thinking. Give attention to the omnipresent intelligence and it will make you wise. The "light which lighteth every man, coming into the world"f is here, as the atmosphere is here. "The light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not."g Why? Because men do not realize the truth about Spirit and its laws. Spirit is like mind - in fact it is the highest realm of mind. There is an ever-present, all-knowing One. Put yourself into conscious unity with this presence through the power of your thought and your word, and you will gradually become mentally open to a world of causes of which you never before dreamed."h
TRANSFORM YOUR INNER CRITIC INTO AN INNER COACH
I know we're trying to address as many of the 64 Success Principles in Jack Canfield's book as possible, but today I'm only going to address one because, it is so rich - and so fundamental to our Unity teachings. It is Success Principle No. 32, which says:
"Transform Your Inner Critic Into an Inner Coach"i
Did you know that the average person has over 50,000 thoughts a day? And most of those are TO you ABOUT you and 80% of those are negative. Thoughts like this:
* I shouldn't have said that
* They don't like me
* I'm never going to be able to pull this off
* I don't like the way my hair looks today
* I can't dance
* I'm always late
* I'm never going to get this done
* I feel so foolish
Thoughts like these, whatever our specific words are, control us. They make us break out into a sweat, get the jitters, blush, stammer, and taken to the extreme, they can even kill us.
There is an example that Canfield gives in his book of Nick Sitzman, who was a strong, healthy, ambitious young railroad yardman. One midsummer day, the train crews were informed that they could quit an hour early in honor of the foreman's birthday.
While performing one last check on some of the railroad cars, Nick was accidentally locked in a refrigerator boxcar. When he realized that the rest of the workmen had left the site, Nick began to panic.
He banged until his fists were bloody, but no one heard him. With his knowledge of "the facts," he predicted the temperature in the car to be zero degrees. Nick's thought was, "if I can't get out, I'll freeze to death in here." Apparently wanting his wife and family to know what happened to him, he found a knife and began to etch words on the wooden floor. Things like, "It's so cold, my body is getting numb. If I could just go to sleep. These may be my last words."
The next morning, the crew slid open the heavy doors of the boxcar and found Nick dead. An autopsy revealed that every physical sign of his body indicated that he had frozen to death.
And yet -- here's the catch -- the refrigeration in the unit of the car was not working properly, and the temperature inside indicated 55 degrees. Chilly, yes, but not cold enough to kill him. Nick had killed himself by the power of his own thoughts.j
I am prayerful that we won't ever experience such a dramatic demonstration of the power of our thoughts, but we can certainly kill our success/our dreams little by little, day by day with negative, limiting, unloving thoughts.
Our thoughts create a form into which the creative substance, known as God's energy, is poured. This is like pouring water into an ice cube tray. When the water is frozen, out comes the cube in the exact form of the mold into which the water has been poured. The water has no choice other than to take the form of the mold or container into which it is poured. Creative substance has no choice but to take on the form of our thoughts.
Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of The Self Realization Fellowship says in Autobiography of a Yogi:
"Since you alone are responsible for your thoughts, only you can change them. And, you will want to change them when you realize that each thought creates according to its own nature. Remember that the law works at all times and that you are always demonstrating according to the kind of thoughts you habitually entertain. Therefore, start now to think only those thoughts that will bring you health and happiness."k
* So what if you learned to pour your thoughts into the mold of success?
* What if you could transform your negative self talk into positive self talk?
* What if you could silence your thoughts of lack and limitation and replace them with thoughts of unlimited possibility?
* What if you could replace any victim language in your thoughts with the language of empowerment?
* And what if you could transform your inner critic, who judges your every move, into a supportive inner coach who would encourage you and give you confidence as you face every situation?!
Well, you can! The question is how?
Here's perhaps a new way to look at it. Psychiatrist Daniel Amen has named the limiting thoughts we hear in our heads ANTs -- Automatic Negative Thoughts.l And just like real ants can ruin a picnic, you're ANTs can ruin your life. So, you need to stomp the ANTs by . . .
* First, by becoming aware of them,
* Next, by challenging them; and
* Finally, by replacing them with more supportive and affirming thoughts.
Specifically, here's what that looks like.
1. BECOME AWARE OF THEM
1. Become Aware of Them
The first step is to become aware of them. Get off automatic pilot! Just like there are different types of ants -- the critters -- in the world, so are there different types of ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) in your head. To help you recognize them, here are some . . .
* Always-Never Thinking
* I never get a break.
* She is always so rude.
* My boss never listens to me.
* I'm never going to get that raise.
* I'm always the one to get the short end of the stick!
* Focusing only on the negative in a situation
* Catastrophic Predicting
* Mind-Reading - making assumptions -- which are usually negative!
* Labeling - self or others.
If any of these sounded familiar to you, take 3 days (2 work days and a weekend day) and walk around with a notepad, writing down every negative thought you have.
Or, ask a spouse/partner, child, roommate or colleague to catch you and impose a dollar fine every time they hear you uttering a negative thought. If you can enroll others to do this exercise at the same time, it's a lot easier!
2. CHALLENGE THESE THOUGHTS
2. Challenge These Thoughts
Now that you've become aware of these thoughts, you can challenge them. Is it REALLY true that your boss NEVER listens to you? That you NEVER get a break; that a certain person is ALWAYS rude to you. If you can find even one time when that isn't true, you can challenge your ANT!
In the middle of any situation, can you find one kernel of good? Of course you can!
Is your prediction of the worst happening REALLY likely? What are other possible predictions? "I'm sure if I ask for a raise, I won't get it." But you just might if you would ask!
Is that assumption you're making REALLY true? "I know she hasn't called me back because she's mad at me." What could other reasons be? Challenge you're assumption!
Is that label you put on yourself or another REALLY the whole truth? "I am so stupid!" Challenge with finding a time when you/they weren't stupid!
In other words, challenge your thoughts! Remember -- don't believe everything you hear -- even (or should I say especially!) if it comes from your own head!
3. REPLACE THEM WITH SUPPORTING/AFFIRMING THOUGHTS
3. Replace Them with Supporting/Affirming Thoughts
A good affirmation is: "Each time a negative thought attempts to enter my mind, I will replace it with a positive thought."
A powerful, powerful way to do this is to stop, drop and roll! Sounds familiar, eh? Here's how it works in this context:
Stop the thought - Mid-thought, just say "Stop!"
Drop the thought - Intentionally, consciously drop the thought; tell yourself "I am forever dropping that thought!"
Roll the thought - Consciously roll the thought into the opposite! If you are thinking "I will never succeed in this," consciously roll that into "I am so excited to see how I succeed in this." If an ANT runs in and says "How are you possibly going to do that?", consciously roll it into "I only need to know the 'what', because God knows the 'how'!"
Do you get my drift of what it means to stop, drop and roll?! Good! Because that is how you transform your inner critic to your inner coach. And when you do that, you transform your life and you will literally astound yourself!
Let me end with these powerful words from Ernest Holmes in Creative Mind and Success:
"In the final analysis, we are just what we think ourselves to be; we are big in capacity if we think big thoughts; we are small if we think small thoughts. We will attract to ourselves what we think most about. We can learn to govern our own destiny when we learn to control our thoughts. . . . This is so easy to understand, and so plain as to use that we often wonder why we have been so long finding out this, the greatest truth of all the ages. Believing; thinking what is believed to be true; thinking into Mind each day that which is wished to be returned; eliminating negative thoughts; thinking positive thoughts; giving thanks to the Spirit of Life . . . .; never arguing with one's self or with others; . . . these are the steps which, when followed, will bring us to where we shall not have to ask if it be true, for, having demonstrated, we shall know."m
Let us know.
And now I would like to recognize all biological mothers, all females who have served in the role as mothers and all males who have served in the role, so let's talk about Mothers, since this is Mother's Day.
The service today is to celebrate Mother's Day as a day of universal blessing for mothers and for all the women that we honor in our lives. A day when all mothers and nurturers are enfolded lovingly in the prayers and blessings of all people everywhere. So let's take a look at Mothers.
In Reader's Digest, Jeanne Young wrote, "My children, who had forgotten to shop for Mother's Day, presented me with a homemade card. The contrite message read: "We know you deserve the very best, Mom. But we're glad you kept us anyway." It is a card I will never throw away."
And that's what being a mother is all about. Holding your children in your heart for who they are. When we honor and love them, they learn to honor and love us.
I truly believe that before we come to this world we pick the parents and the situation we want to come into so that we may develop and grow.
My Mother did not bond with me because of her own situation in life at the time I was born. But because of that, I gained the soul strength to do what I came here to do.
Somewhere, on some other plane of existence, we decide what challenges we need so that we may grow spiritually. So we put ourselves into the most atrocious situations so that we can grow up.
Or at least we THINK we grow - but let our Mother come into the room, and we are again 5 years old.
So as we think about our Mothers and others who nurtured us, let's know that they did the best they knew how to do. They too, were raised by dysfunctional mothers, who were also raised by dysfunctional mothers.
So we can sit back and blame them - or we can step up and change the pattern of disfunctionality in our generation. Then we will be able to appreciate them for what they did for us even though they weren't perfect.
We all owe our mothers a deep and heartfelt thank you. Why do I say that? It's pretty simple -- Without her, we wouldn't be here!
So, wherever you are on the mother continuum - on one end having the most nurturing, wonderful, loving, caring mother to having, on the other end, the Wicked Witch of the West as your mother, we each owe our mothers a thank you for bringing us into this world.
Now I would like to pay tribute to the women we know. I have been sent the names of women that I would like to acknowledge.
But first I would like to invite those who wish to come forward to honor women in their lives. Please come up, place a flower in the vase and acknowledge the women in your life.
Now, the names that have been sent in to be honored are...
As you look at this vase filled with flowers, think of the women in your life who have influenced you, inspired you, strengthened you, and loved you. Women we loved and hated. Women we blame for all our faults and weaknesses, and thank for all our strengths and talents. Women who weren't perfect but did the best they knew how to do.
Blessed are the mothers of yesterday. They nurture us with loving memories and inspire us to become all we are meant to be. Blessed are the mothers of today. They hold in their hands and in their hearts the keeping of tomorrow and the destiny of our children's future. Truly, God is blessing all mothers now. Amen.
dJack Canfield The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
hCharles Fillmore Talks on Truth, p. 151
iJack Canfield The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
jJack Canfield The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
kParamahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi
lPsychiatrist Daniel Amen
mErnest Holmes Creative Mind and Success, p. 84