"That's all very well, but..."
"He makes it sound easy, he should see where we live..."
"If it was that easy, everyone would do it."
"I bet he hasn't got children/dogs/sick mother/wooden leg..."
And many other things like this. In fact I hope you ARE making excuses otherwise you shouldn't be reading this book!
Excuses are what people use to cover up or justify their lack of
Positive Self Image and I-Can belief.
I hope you will forgive me for calling them excuses, but THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE! I'll show you WHY you feel you have to make excuses and HOW to stop making excuses by raising your I-Can belief from the present three foot FALSE CEILING to as high as you can go.
I vividly remember the time when I made all sorts of excuses for not achieving success. Do you remember that I told you how I used to blame anything and anybody other than myself?
I blamed my lack of money, I blamed my lack of contacts, I blamed society for favouring the rich, I blamed the depression, in short, I blamed everything except myself!
Why do you think I made these excuses?
Simple! I made excuses because they LET ME OFF THE HOOK!
If something else or somebody else was causing my failure then I wasn't to BLAME was I? What could I do about it? It wasn't MY fault. After all, I had all these handicaps like lack of money and lack of ability!
"Anyway," I told myself, "what's the point in even TRYING? The only people who make it in this world are either rich to start with, or lucky, or dishonest... Even if I make lots of money, the taxman would take it all, so what's the point?"
I didn't take responsibility for my own life. It was easy and convenient for me to blame someone or something else for my failure.
Do you see how not taking responsibility for your own life is VERY CONVENIENT? The pay-off is obvious. By blaming external agencies you absolve yourself from responsibility, which, in turn means YOU DON'T HAVE TO TRY.
These excuses were formed very early in your childhood, and they served the purpose of preventing you from having to make changes to your I-Can World View.
For example, there was a time when you had to struggle to learn the basics of mathematics. Love it or hate it, this level of mathematics CAN be understood, with some effort, by most children . Somewhere along the line you learned the neat trick of saying something like: "I'm useless at maths, my Daddy and teacher both say so. I've always been useless at it, and I always will be."
This gives you the perfect excuse! If Daddy AND teacher both say so, then you have the approval of high authority for your imagined weakness. The pay-off is obvious. You no longer have to struggle to learn maths! After all, what's the point? You KNOW that you'll never be any good at it.
Note that this hardly affects the Positive Self Image belief (although the two types of belief are intimately connected). You don't necessarily feel bad about yourself over this, you just believe that you are no good at maths - or whatever subject applies to you.
This type of belief is also nicely self re-enforcing. The more you believe that you are useless at maths, the less you will try, ("What's the point?"), so the worse you will get, ("I told you so!")
Now here is something really interesting: Our society often gives out POSITIVE strokes to people who demonstrate a lack of I-Can belief, PARTICULARLY TO GIRLS. This is one of the many reasons why women are disadvantaged compared to their male counterparts; they are actively encouraged (albeit by subtle messages), to demonstrate a low level of I-Can belief.
Here are two fairly typical examples:
JOHN: "I'm useless at maths!"
DAD: "Nonsense son, you'll just have to try harder."
Compare this with:
MARY: "I'm useless at maths."
DAD: "Never mind sweetie, you can't have a pretty face AND be clever at everything can you?"
Going right back to the beginning of this book, do you remember that I told you how I read every 'Positive Thinking' book that I could get hold of, then synthesised my own method?
Well one thing that really struck me after about the fifth book, was that women were totally excluded from these books. In every single book, the reader was always referred to as "he" NEVER "she" and the books were all crawling with nice little sexist examples using a boss, (always a man), and a secretary, (always a woman), as the main characters.
Why do I make this point? Because 'Positive Thinking' books are rarely aimed at women. Women are NOT encouraged by our society to raise their level of I-Can belief. In fact it is definitely frowned upon if a woman appears too capable or appears to believe in herself (unless that belief is confined to 'safe' subjects like cooking or bringing up babies). Most women who do possess a high level of I-Can have long ago learnt the trick of playing it down - especially in front of male associates.
It is not my intention to explore the subject of sexism at length in this book. I am not qualified to do so, and it has been well covered by other authors. I only wanted to use this as an example of how a lifetime of training in lowering a person's I-Can belief, can result in their being confined under a very low ceiling.
I said earlier that most people are confined under a three foot ceiling; if you're a woman reading this then subtract one foot!
Lack of I-Can belief EVEN IN ONE OR TWO SUBJECTS is a crippling disease. If you don't take the trouble to correct the problem then WHOLE AREAS of life are forever closed to you. In the case of our example, you may not consider maths to be a great loss, but you would be wrong.
Maths is an amazing, wonderful, subject; you could devote a lifetime to it and hardly penetrate its mysteries. I'm not saying that you should immediately go out and study maths, but it is a sheer tragedy if, every time you brush against the subject, the mental shutters come down and you switch off.
It is TERRIBLE to be crippled like this.
It is the same with ALL subjects. They are ALL intensely interesting; it is only your lack of I-Can belief which prevents you from finding them so.
When you raise your level of I-Can belief, it is like raising a curtain on the world. EVERYTHING becomes possible; EVERYTHING is interesting. There is NO SUCH THING as a boring subject; there is nothing which you could not become proficient in, given time.
This does not mean that you have to become a leading mathematician and scientist; play the cello to concert standard learn nineteen languages and become a free-lance brain surgeon - but you COULD do any one (or more) of these things if you wanted to. We are talking here not about doing all these things, but about allowing yourself to believe that you could do them if you decided that you wanted to.
It is this belief in your abilities which signifies a high level of I-Can. This means that ANY opportunity which comes your way is OPEN to you; not closed by your low I-Can. You can learn anything you want.
You may not WANT to learn Arabic but you KNOW that you COULD if you wanted to. The I-Can't person would say something like:
"I've always been useless at languages."
You may not WANT to learn to water-ski but if the opportunity came along, you KNOW that you COULD master it, given time. The I-Can't person would say something like: "I'm hopeless at sports; I've always been that way; I'll never change."
You may not WANT to start your own business, but you know that thousands of ordinary people have done just this, and so could you if you wanted to. The I-Can't person would say: "It's too complicated; all those figures, I could never do that."
So, we have learnt that due to laziness, the brain learns to make excuses for lack of ability. The pay-off for making excuses is that you don't have to TRY anymore, so you don't have to risk failure. These excuses are self re-enforcing. They lower your level of I-Can belief and bar you from whole areas of life.
Let me give you one excuse and two examples which serve to illustrate exactly how shallow these excuses can be: The excuse is: "I'm too old/infirm to do anything."
There is a lecturer at Cambridge University who suffers from a crippling progressive wasting disease which prevented him from walking. He wanted to carry on working so he bought himself a wheelchair and continued lecturing.
Then the disease paralysed him so that he could only talk and move one hand. He modified his wheelchair to be operated by one hand and carried on lecturing.
As if this was not bad enough, the disease attacked his voice box which had to be removed surgically. Did he give up? No. He had a friend design a computer linked to a voice synthesiser. He now uses one hand to select from a menu of words from which he constructs sentences and feeds them to the synthesiser. He now carries on normal conversations by means of his computer voice. He is still lecturing.
I still think of this man when I am tempted to moan about my physical problems.
I used to go hang-gliding. I thought this was a young person's sport until I found out that one of the champion hang-gliders was over sixty five! He took it up when he was sixty!
A very great many of the famous people throughout the centuries have done some of their best work during their so-called 'old-age'. Age was not a barrier to them, why should it be to you?
How easy it would have been for any of these people to give up, call it a day, say "I'd love to do that, if only..."?
These are just a few of the many thousands of people who have triumphed over the most amazing difficulties. You'll find that the people with the most severe handicaps are often the ones who do the LEAST moaning and excuse-making. It is often the people with quite mild problems, or even no problems at all, who use it as an excuse.
I used to know a chap in a wheelchair who hitchhiked around Europe! Yes...hitchhiked! He would sit in his wheelchair on the verge of the road and thumb a lift! Drivers would be so amazed to see him that they would stop. The wheelchair would be put in the boot, and Stephen would be helped into the front seat.
Where was the problem? He got a lift more easily than able-bodied hikers!
Being too old/young or claiming a physical disability are just two of the many excuses which people make for not achieving the success that they deserve.
When you raise your I-Can belief, you stop making excuses!
All of us have restrictions which we could use as excuses.
We're all either poor, lacking in ability, lacking in opportunity, bogged down with responsibilities, too old, too young, ill, infirm, the wrong colour/race/sex etc etc. The list goes on.
Here are a few of the excuses which people use to justify their lack of success:
"I never had a proper education."
"The trouble with me is that I'm too highly qualified!"
"It's all right for you, I was in my first job at thirteen, what chance did I have?"
"Mummy and Daddy were very rich, consequently I didn't have to do a stroke! If only I'd been made to get a job at thirteen, that would have given me the toughness which I lack!"
"Everything costs money nowadays. Even if I could think up a good business scheme, I haven't got a penny in capital."
"My problem is I'm too well off! Consequently I just dabble around at things and don't take anything seriously.
If only I had less money; I'm sure I would try harder."