November 2000

Positive Thinking

This Issue


by Joseph Patrick Jakubal

To win at something requires that we not only win on an external level, but also on an internal one. To "win" externally means that we must engage in a struggle to overcome obstacles that prevent us from getting something we want … it could be: winning a game, closing a sale or getting a promotion. However, there are also internal struggles that occur at the same time as the external ones and they have the power to keep us from our goal ... internal struggles like, self doubt, fear, lack of confidence andnegative self image.

It is to be emphasized that people can win the external battles but lose the internal ones (and vice versa). To understand what winning really is all about we must examine the "hidden" inner struggles that take place. Virtually everyone in American society has been brought up with the idea that "winning is everything" ... it permeates the family, school system and job environment. We place winners on plateaus and make them into hero's ... people like champion athletes, presidents and astronauts.

But, to externally win and achieve goals is not always winning ... to beat the other person is not always winning. The key to performance and true winning is to be found in the inner struggles of the human mind. To illustrate this concept I am now going to reveal to you a method of winning that will never fail you. It is simple and easy. And, when I tell you how to do it I can absolutely guarantee that you will instantly recognize that it will indeed always work for you. Therefore, if you are not very, very happy after I reveal this method to you ... if you are not supremely grateful to me, then you will understand that there is something more that just winning the external struggles ... that winning is not the be-all and end-all.

Now, here is the method that will assure that you always win … "never compete with anyone who is as good as you". Does that make you enthusiastic? Are you indebted to me forever? Probably not, because you probably realize that personal growth cannot take place if you are never challenged ... that there is value in the efforts that it takes to overcome obstacles. When we are forced to "dig deep" within ourselves and do our very best, we find new ways to improve our performance. The struggles against obstacles is a part of being human, we need it to be happy and fulfilled. Furthermore, we can see that the external win is not the most important part of winning. However, due to the "conditioning " that society has inflicted upon us (that "winning is everything") we end up developing a "fear of failure" ... how will people view me if I do not win? ... how will I view myself?

Let's pretend that you are going to play a game of ping-pong against a very good player. You make a contract with this person to play the game because you recognize the value of competing and improving yourself. And further, let's suppose that it is the end of the game ... it is your opponent's serve and if he wins the point he takes the game. What do you think might be going through your mind? Do you say to yourself, "I hope he burns the ball to my backhand where he has been consistently picking up points against me the whole game? No, at this moment you reverse your thinking! Initially, you asked him/her to play and wanted him/her to be as good as possible, but, now you are hoping your opponent makes a mistake, or trips, or slips on a banana peel. Now, the conditioning of society takes over and the win becomes all important. You do not realize that there is more than one kind of winning and this results in a state of confusion because somehow you realize (on a deep, subconscious level) that there is more than just the external game happening.

To illustrate, let's suppose that you are going to conduct a competition in which your left arm is to compete against your right arm in a pushing match. The winner will be the one that can push the other five inches from the start position. OK, let's start ... a grueling struggle ensues and lasts for over two hours. At last the left arm manages to push the right one into the loser's circle. Do you think you would say, "I love you left arm ... you are the greatest arm in the world ... I am going to reward you for being the best arm that a body could want! I am going to buy you a great sleeve, get you a massage, wash you and keep you extra clean! And you, right arm ... I am disgusted with you ... you are a loser and don't deserve to be in the same neighborhood as the left arm. Hide under my shirt and stay out of my sight until you have done something that will elevate you to the level of the left hand." This may sound a bit silly but it illustrates my point very well. In reality both arms gained something from this struggle because when they were pushing against each other they both were performing isometric exercise … both increased their strength and therefore both derived benefits. But, what if the right arm said to itself that it did not want to compete, that it did not approve of competition or that it was going to lose the contest anyway so it would not give 100% effort? Then, the left arm would win easily and which would benefit? NEITHER ONE!

The benefits come from the obstacles ... if the two arms came into the competition with the idea that winning is everything then the winner would ride an emotional high and the loser would be depressed. In some cases the loser may not even want to ever play again. However, if both remember that the reason they started the competition was to increase their strength ... then the left arm may come to the conclusion that it was actually the winner because it may have ultimately increased it's strength to a greater degree than the right arm!

Fear of failure is one of the inner struggles that must be addressed. Inner struggles typically determine the results of external ones. When we doubt ourselves we are not at our best … we end up forcing the situation and "trying too hard". This can quickly perpetuate itself and turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy. One way to counter our inner struggles is to place them under a microscope, shine the light of analysis upon them. By examining and analyzing them we can dispel fears. The first thing to do would be to ask, what is the worst that can happen to me if I lose this struggle and do not achieve the goal? This is not taking a negative attitude, it is taking a positive step to understanding what it is I am up against … what it is that is holding me back. After analyzing the fear and possible outcomes we invariably come to the conclusion that very little in life will change by not externally winning this situation. Life will go on with some minor embarassments that ultimately will be forgotten. Remember, the worst situation you can imagine rarely comes true … it is mostly fear that is built up out of proportion by the inner struggles.

Another point to keep in mind is that very often it is not the "fear of failure" which keeps us from performing up to our potential but rather the "fear of success". This too should be analyzed when we are not performing up to our expectations.

Then, the question becomes, "What do I want most … do I want a victory in this situation or do I want to overcome the inner struggle which will benefit me in virtually every aspect of my life?"

Fear often translates into … a diminishing of self worth. Isn't that what it often comes down to? We are more valued if we are competent and do well and less if we do not. Is this not what society has been alluding to all along? The subconscious mind takes a failure and incorporates it into the psyche as, "I am a failure as a human being". Of course this is not true. Failures are a part of life, they allow us to grow. Virtually any entrepreneur will tell you of the failures they had to endure prior to making it big. They will tell you how they had to go through a series of failures to find out what not to do in the future that allowed them to succeed..

Therefore, the answer is not to fear failure but rather to face it head on and make a habit of it ... which instills the quality of "confidence". Let go and trust yourself … then, go for the win … realize that not obtaining the goal is not what is really important, it is winning at the inner struggles which keep us from the things we want.

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