Descartes wrote it long ago – this philosophical statement designed to describe how the very act of thinking indicates the existence of self. Many quote it today, myself included, almost in jest as a means to sound like an erudite. In my estimation the statement, “cogito ergo sum – I think, therefore I am” is nothing more than one philosopher’s pursuit to understand reality. That’s pretty much all I care to say about it here. In fact, the only reason I even mention it is because the phrase “I think, therefore I am” is easy to remember and can be used to positively move us in the right direction if we keep in mind, with a couple of adjustments. With that in mind, let me delineate how this phrase can be used to keep ourselves on track in the midst of making difficult and right decisions.
What we think about ourselves makes us who we are.
Labels and words – we all use them – for everything. Using labels and words to categorize and compartmentalize things gives us a sense of comfort and wards off ambiguity. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that labels have a proper place in our lives, helping us to identify things and people and to put them in proper perspective.
However, words and labels can also be very detrimental with regards to successful and joyful living, as well as towards achieving our full potential in life. Let me explain. For the purpose of brevity, I’m going to get right to the point. We’re all guilty (at one time or another) of using names and word descriptions to degrade or insult others. In fact, the very words that we utter do one or two things – they can either edify or destroy. In my opinion, words and labels have the power to create or to kill. My purpose here is not to reiterate the obvious – that words and labels (wrongly used) can hurt others. My point here is to show that our thoughts, which become words which become labels, applied to ourselves, can either help or hurt us. They quite literally, create who we are. With this in mind, let me just give a couple of biblical references about the power of thoughts/words/labels.
It really comes from the heart. Christ stated in Matthew 15:18-19,
“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”
How do you talk to yourself?
For a moment, imagine how the above verses apply to the way that you talk to yourself, that is, the thoughts, language and words that you use to label or describe yourself. And, I don’t necessarily mean the way that you describe yourself to others, but to you. More to the point, ask yourself this question,
What do I tell myself about me?
Let me rewrite Descartes’ phrase “I think, therefore I am”, and make it more applicable and practical. If you will, think of it this way:
“I think _________________, therefore I am ___________________.”
How would you fill in that phrase? Maybe it’s something like this:
“I think I’ve made so many mistakes, therefore I am a loser.”
Or, maybe you don’t say things like that, but maybe you’re constantly down on yourself saying things like,
“I’ve made so many mistakes, I’ll never get any better.”
My point is this – your thoughts, your self-talk, the words you use internally about yourself, become your actuality, your reality.
If you want to succeed, if you want to get past your current circumstances, if you want to be a winner, an overcomer, a survivor, a thriver, then you must begin to change the way you think about yourself.
“I think I am capable and smart, therefore I am a success and a winner.”
“I think (GOOD, POSITIVE THOUGHTS), therefore I am (A SUCCESSFUL, HAPPY, THRIVING PERSON).”
On the other hand, when you constantly are focusing on the bad, the negative, on what’s wrong with you, you’ll continue to have a bad, negative, pathetic reality.
When you think of yourself a certain way, when you label yourself a certain way, when your self-talk is a certain way, your actions will become what your thoughts already created. This was very much the point of my last blog entitled “Begin Each Day with the End in Sight.”
Before you act, before you react, before you respond, before you even move in any direction, stop and already see yourself in a positive light, where you want to be. Visualizing yourself in a good positive light will lead to actualizing yourself in a good, positive, successful light.
Next time, I’ll write about how to make an inward change (the heart), which will make the outer you – your reality, much better – how to clean up your act from the inside out and positively affect your future.