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Seven Truths About You

Seven Truths About You

    (Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from the book Kiss That Frog: 12 Great Ways to Turn Negatives into Positives in Your Life and Work by Brian Tracy and Christina Tracy Stein. Brian Tracy is chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International. As a keynote speaker and seminar leader, he addresses more than 250,000 people each year. He is the bestselling author of more than fifty books that have been translated into dozens of languages. Christina Tracy Stein is a psychotherapist in private practice. She collaborates with her clients to help them create more fulfilling relationships, develop ways to handle stress and anxiety, and find greater enjoyment and satisfaction in their lives. She also works as a personal and professional development coach where she more directly facilitates her clients’ growth. For more information on Brian Tracy, please visit his website and follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

    )

    Your natural state is to be happy, peaceful, joyous, and full of excitement at being alive. In this natural state you wake up each morning eager to start the day. You feel wonderful about yourself and your relationships with the people in your life. You enjoy your work and derive a great sense of satisfaction from making a contribution that makes a difference. Your primary goal should be to organize your life in such a way that this is how you feel most of the time.

    As a fully functioning, fully mature adult, you should be doing things every day that move you toward the fulfillment of your potential. You should feel grateful for all your blessings in every area. If you are unhappy or dissatisfied in any part of your life, something is not right in your thoughts, feelings, or actions, and it needs to be corrected.

    The starting point in unlocking your full potential is to realize that you already are a prince or princess, deep down inside.

    Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. — Abraham Lincoln

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    No matter where you are today, or what you have done or not done in the past, you need to accept seven essential truths about you as a person:

    1. You are a thoroughly good and excellent person; valuable and worthwhile beyond measure. No one is better than you or more gifted than you.

    Only when you doubt your essential goodness and value do you begin to question yourself. The inability to accept that you are a good person lies at the root of much of your discontent.

    2. You are important, in many, many ways. To start with, you are important to yourself. Your personal universe revolves around you as an individual. You give meaning to everything that you see or hear. Nothing in your world has any significance except for the significance that you attribute to it.

    You are also important to your parents. Your birth was a significant moment in their lives, and as you grew up, almost everything you did was meaningful to them.

    You are important to your own family, to your partner or spouse, your children, and the other members of your social circle. Some of the things you do or say have an enormous impact on them.

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    You are important to your company, your customers, your coworkers, and your community. The things you do or don’t do can have a tremendous effect on the lives and work of others.

    How important you feel largely determines the quality of your life. Happy, successful people feel important and valuable. Because they feel and act this way, it becomes true for them.

    Unhappy, frustrated people feel unimportant and of little value. They feel frustrated and unworthy. They feel “I’m not good enough,” and as a result they lash out at the world and engage in behaviors that hurt themselves and others.

    They don’t realize that they could be a prince or princess inside.

    3. You have unlimited potential and the ability to create your life and your world as you desire. You could not use your entire potential if you lived one hundred lifetimes.

    No matter what you have accomplished up to now, it is merely a hint of what is truly possible for you. And the more of your natural talents and abilities you develop in the present, the more of your potential you can develop in the future.

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    Your belief in your almost unlimited potential is the key to becoming everything you are truly capable of becoming.

    4. You create your world in every respect by the way you think and the depth of your convictions. Your beliefs actually create your realities, and every belief you have about yourself you learned, starting in infancy. The amazing thing is that most of the negative or self-limiting beliefs and doubts that interfere with your happiness and success are not based on fact or reality at all.

    When you begin to question your self-limiting beliefs and develop beliefs consistent with the incredible person you really are, your life will begin to change almost immediately.

    5. You are always free to choose the content of your thoughts and the direction of your life. The one thing over which you have complete control is your inner life and your thinking. You can decide to think happy, fulfilling, uplifting thoughts that lead to positive actions and results. Or you can, by default, end up choosing negative, selflimiting thoughts that trip you up and hold you back.

    Your mind is like a garden: if you do not deliberately cultivate flowers, weeds will grow automatically without any effort on your part. If you do not deliberately plant and cultivate positive thoughts, negative thoughts will grow in their place.

    This simple metaphor about the garden explains why so many people are unhappy and don’t know why.

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    6. You are put on this earth with a great destiny: you are meant to do something wonderful with your life. You have a unique combination of talents, abilities, ideas, insights, and experiences that make you different from anyone who has ever lived. You are designed for success and engineered for greatness.

    Your acceptance or nonacceptance of this point largely determines the size of the goals you set, your power of persistence in the face of adversity, the height of your achievements, and the whole direction of your life.

    7. There are no limits to what you can do, be, or have except the limits you place on your own thinking and your own imagination. The biggest enemies you will ever face are your own doubts and fears. These are usually negative beliefs, not necessarily based on fact, that you have accepted over the years until you no longer question them.

    As Shakespeare wrote in The Tempest, “What’s past is prologue.” Everything that has happened to you in the past has been a preparation for the wonderful life that lies ahead of you in the future.

    Remember the rule: It doesn’t matter where you’re coming from; all that really matters is where you’re going.

    Re-printed from the book “Kiss That Frog!” with the permission of Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2012

    (Photo credit: Truth, Magnified via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on October 22, 2020

    8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

    8 Simple Ways to Be a Better Listener

    How would you feel if you were sharing a personal story and noticed that the person to whom you were speaking wasn’t really listening? You probably wouldn’t be too thrilled.

    Unfortunately, that is the case for many people. Most individuals are not good listeners. They are good pretenders. The thing is, true listening requires work—more work than people are willing to invest. Quality conversation is about “give and take.” Most people, however, want to just give—their words, that is. Being on the receiving end as the listener may seem boring, but it’s essential.

    When you are attending to someone and paying attention to what they’re saying, it’s a sign of caring and respect. The hitch is that attending requires an act of will, which sometimes goes against what our minds naturally do—roaming around aimlessly and thinking about whatnot, instead of listening—the greatest act of thoughtfulness.

    Without active listening, people often feel unheard and unacknowledged. That’s why it’s important for everyone to learn how to be a better listener.

    What Makes People Poor Listeners?

    Good listening skills can be learned, but first, let’s take a look at some of the things that you might be doing that makes you a poor listener.

    1. You Want to Talk to Yourself

    Well, who doesn’t? We all have something to say, right? But when you are looking at someone pretending to be listening while, all along, they’re mentally planning all the amazing things they’re going to say, it is a disservice to the speaker.

    Yes, maybe what the other person is saying is not the most exciting thing in the world. Still, they deserve to be heard. You always have the ability to steer the conversation in another direction by asking questions.

    It’s okay to want to talk. It’s normal, even. Keep in mind, however, that when your turn does come around, you’ll want someone to listen to you.

    2. You Disagree With What Is Being Said

    This is another thing that makes you an inadequate listener—hearing something with which you disagree with and immediately tuning out. Then, you lie in wait so you can tell the speaker how wrong they are. You’re eager to make your point and prove the speaker wrong. You think that once you speak your “truth,” others will know how mistaken the speaker is, thank you for setting them straight, and encourage you to elaborate on what you have to say. Dream on.

    Disagreeing with your speaker, however frustrating that might be, is no reason to tune them out and ready yourself to spew your staggering rebuttal. By listening, you might actually glean an interesting nugget of information that you were previously unaware of.

    3. You Are Doing Five Other Things While You’re “Listening”

    It is impossible to listen to someone while you’re texting, reading, playing Sudoku, etc. But people do it all the time—I know I have.

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    I’ve actually tried to balance my checkbook while pretending to listen to the person on the other line. It didn’t work. I had to keep asking, “what did you say?” I can only admit this now because I rarely do it anymore. With work, I’ve succeeded in becoming a better listener. It takes a great deal of concentration, but it’s certainly worth it.

    If you’re truly going to listen, then you must: listen! M. Scott Peck, M.D., in his book The Road Less Travel, says, “you cannot truly listen to anyone and do anything else at the same time.” If you are too busy to actually listen, let the speaker know, and arrange for another time to talk. It’s simple as that!

    4. You Appoint Yourself as Judge

    While you’re “listening,” you decide that the speaker doesn’t know what they’re talking about. As the “expert,” you know more. So, what’s the point of even listening?

    To you, the only sound you hear once you decide they’re wrong is, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah!” But before you bang that gavel, just know you may not have all the necessary information. To do that, you’d have to really listen, wouldn’t you? Also, make sure you don’t judge someone by their accent, the way they sound, or the structure of their sentences.

    My dad is nearly 91. His English is sometimes a little broken and hard to understand. People wrongly assume that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about—they’re quite mistaken. My dad is a highly intelligent man who has English as his second language. He knows what he’s saying and understands the language perfectly.

    Keep that in mind when listening to a foreigner, or someone who perhaps has a difficult time putting their thoughts into words.

    Now, you know some of the things that make for an inferior listener. If none of the items above resonate with you, great! You’re a better listener than most.

    How To Be a Better Listener

    For conversation’s sake, though, let’s just say that maybe you need some work in the listening department, and after reading this article, you make the decision to improve. What, then, are some of the things you need to do to make that happen? How can you be a better listener?

    1. Pay Attention

    A good listener is attentive. They’re not looking at their watch, phone, or thinking about their dinner plans. They’re focused and paying attention to what the other person is saying. This is called active listening.

    According to Skills You Need, “active listening involves listening with all senses. As well as giving full attention to the speaker, it is important that the ‘active listener’ is also ‘seen’ to be listening—otherwise, the speaker may conclude that what they are talking about is uninteresting to the listener.”[1]

    As I mentioned, it’s normal for the mind to wander. We’re human, after all. But a good listener will rein those thoughts back in as soon as they notice their attention waning.

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    I want to note here that you can also “listen” to bodily cues. You can assume that if someone keeps looking at their watch or over their shoulder, their focus isn’t on the conversation. The key is to just pay attention.

    2. Use Positive Body Language

    You can infer a lot from a person’s body language. Are they interested, bored, or anxious?

    A good listener’s body language is open. They lean forward and express curiosity in what is being said. Their facial expression is either smiling, showing concern, conveying empathy, etc. They’re letting the speaker know that they’re being heard.

    People say things for a reason—they want some type of feedback. For example, you tell your spouse, “I had a really rough day!” and your husband continues to check his newsfeed while nodding his head. Not a good response.

    But what if your husband were to look up with questioning eyes, put his phone down, and say, “Oh, no. What happened?” How would feel, then? The answer is obvious.

    According to Alan Gurney,[2]

    “An active listener pays full attention to the speaker and ensures they understand the information being delivered. You can’t be distracted by an incoming call or a Facebook status update. You have to be present and in the moment.

    Body language is an important tool to ensure you do this. The correct body language makes you a better active listener and therefore more ‘open’ and receptive to what the speaker is saying. At the same time, it indicates that you are listening to them.”

    3. Avoid Interrupting the Speaker

    I am certain you wouldn’t want to be in the middle of a sentence only to see the other person holding up a finger or their mouth open, ready to step into your unfinished verbiage. It’s rude and causes anxiety. You would, more than likely, feel a need to rush what you’re saying just to finish your sentence.

    Interrupting is a sign of disrespect. It is essentially saying, “what I have to say is much more important than what you’re saying.” When you interrupt the speaker, they feel frustrated, hurried, and unimportant.

    Interrupting a speaker to agree, disagree, argue, etc., causes the speaker to lose track of what they are saying. It’s extremely frustrating. Whatever you have to say can wait until the other person is done.

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    Be polite and wait your turn!

    4. Ask Questions

    Asking questions is one of the best ways to show you’re interested. If someone is telling you about their ski trip to Mammoth, don’t respond with, “that’s nice.” That would show a lack of interest and disrespect. Instead, you can ask, “how long have you been skiing?” “Did you find it difficult to learn?” “What was your favorite part of the trip?” etc. The person will think highly of you and consider you a great conversationalist just by you asking a few questions.

    5. Just Listen

    This may seem counterintuitive. When you’re conversing with someone, it’s usually back and forth. On occasion, all that is required of you is to listen, smile, or nod your head, and your speaker will feel like they’re really being heard and understood.

    I once sat with a client for 45 minutes without saying a word. She came into my office in distress. I had her sit down, and then she started crying softly. I sat with her—that’s all I did. At the end of the session, she stood, told me she felt much better, and then left.

    I have to admit that 45 minutes without saying a word was tough. But she didn’t need me to say anything. She needed a safe space in which she could emote without interruption, judgment, or me trying to “fix” something.

    6. Remember and Follow Up

    Part of being a great listener is remembering what the speaker has said to you, then following up with them.

    For example, in a recent conversation you had with your co-worker Jacob, he told you that his wife had gotten a promotion and that they were contemplating moving to New York. The next time you run into Jacob, you may want to say, “Hey, Jacob! Whatever happened with your wife’s promotion?” At this point, Jacob will know you really heard what he said and that you’re interested to see how things turned out. What a gift!

    According to new research, “people who ask questions, particularly follow-up questions, may become better managers, land better jobs, and even win second dates.”[3]

    It’s so simple to show you care. Just remember a few facts and follow up on them. If you do this regularly, you will make more friends.

    7. Keep Confidential Information Confidential

    If you really want to be a better listener, listen with care. If what you’re hearing is confidential, keep it that way, no matter how tempting it might be to tell someone else, especially if you have friends in common. Being a good listener means being trustworthy and sensitive with shared information.

    Whatever is told to you in confidence is not to be revealed. Assure your speaker that their information is safe with you. They will feel relieved that they have someone with whom they can share their burden without fear of it getting out.

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    Keeping someone’s confidence helps to deepen your relationship. Also, “one of the most important elements of confidentiality is that it helps to build and develop trust. It potentially allows for the free flow of information between the client and worker and acknowledges that a client’s personal life and all the issues and problems that they have belong to them.”[4]

    Be like a therapist: listen and withhold judgment.

    NOTE: I must add here that while therapists keep everything in a session confidential, there are exceptions:

    1. If the client may be an immediate danger to himself or others.
    2. If the client is endangering a population that cannot protect itself, such as in the case of a child or elder abuse.

    8. Maintain Eye Contact

    When someone is talking, they are usually saying something they consider meaningful. They don’t want their listener reading a text, looking at their fingernails, or bending down to pet a pooch on the street. A speaker wants all eyes on them. It lets them know that what they’re saying has value.

    Eye contact is very powerful. It can relay many things without anything being said. Currently, it’s more important than ever with the Covid-19 Pandemic. People can’t see your whole face, but they can definitely read your eyes.

    By eye contact, I don’t mean a hard, creepy stare—just a gaze in the speaker’s direction will do. Make it a point the next time you’re in a conversation to maintain eye contact with your speaker. Avoid the temptation to look anywhere but at their face. I know it’s not easy, especially if you’re not interested in what they’re talking about. But as I said, you can redirect the conversation in a different direction or just let the person know you’ve got to get going.

    Final Thoughts

    Listening attentively will add to your connection with anyone in your life. Now, more than ever, when people are so disconnected due to smartphones and social media, listening skills are critical.

    You can build better, more honest, and deeper relationships by simply being there, paying attention, and asking questions that make the speaker feel like what they have to say matters.

    And isn’t that a great goal? To make people feel as if they matter? So, go out and start honing those listening skills. You’ve got two great ears. Now use them!

    More Tips on How to Be a Better Listener

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Rodriguez via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Skills You Need: Active Listening
    [2] Filtered: Body language for active listening
    [3] Forbes: People Will Like You More If You Start Asking Follow-up Questions
    [4] TAFE NSW Sydney eLearning Moodle: Confidentiality

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