A friend who felt she was continuously blocking her success in life asked me, “How can I change my life?” I had no ready-made answer for this. Every person is different, and everyone has his or her unique set of experiences.
However, I did share one of the most valuable tips for personal growth and transformation that I received from one of my mentors. That tip was if you want to change your life you have to change your self-concept. He shared that the thoughts and messages we send to ourselves about ourselves have tremendous power.
To illustrate, he told me his version of a story about an African prince who was born a hunchback. On the prince’s thirteenth birthday, his father and king of the village asked the young boy what he would like to receive as a gift. Bent over and looking up, the young prince replied, “I want a statue of myself.”
The prince’s father was confused as well as concerned because the last thing he wanted was for his young son to be mocked. In an effort to change the boy’s mind, the king said, “Surely there must be something else you desire?” The prince was steadfast however, and responded by saying, “No, I want a statue of myself, but I don’t want a statue that looks like I appear now. I want a statue of how I would appear if I stood straight. And I want it placed outside of my window in my garden so I can see it every day.”
After the statute was completed, each morning the hunchbacked boy stood before his likeness. He did this day in, and day out, and stretched his body to mimic the six-foot replica. The son of the king did this without fail for eight years. On his twenty-first birthday, the prince stood shoulders erect, head straight, and stared eyeball to eyeball with his bronze image. The prince’s secret is found in the words, “As you see yourself, so shall you be.”
Changing how we see ourselves is a key to breaking away from conditions we don’t like. Our self-concept is like a groove in our mind that serves as our default way of being and acting in life. It sounds simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. It requires making new choices. In order to make new choices, and thus create a new groove, we have to bring what is unconscious to full awareness. When we do, we can choose to act differently, and thus begin to change our self-concept.
We can start by bringing small unconscious thoughts to our awareness. Because, how we see and do anything, affects how we see and do everything. Some people have a hard time accepting compliments due to a subtle lack of self-esteem. One simple exercise is to graciously accept compliments if you don't normally do so. When someone says how good that jacket looks on you, instead of saying "Oh this ole thing?", simply say, "It's true, thank you.”
You may feel uncomfortable at first, but eventually you will create a new groove in how you see yourself. As you change how you see yourself, you change your life.
Peace and Blessings,