“You are wired biologically to act selfish at all times…no exceptions for anyone at any time… this is nature’s way to ensure our species survives… its effectiveness is evident in your current existence!” ~ Ken Pierce ~
It was a summer school psychology course filled with a large number of athletes who needed an elective credit for their degree. We were discussing self worth, self-esteem and personal power. I had suggested we often disempower ourselves with our own language, attitudes and actions.
I asked each student to write down five things they believed they couldn’t do in the format of “I can’t do physics! I can’t speak French! I can’t stand my sister!” and so on. They were then asked, using this format, to read their five limiting beliefs to themselves while noticing how each sounded in relation to their own sense of self worth, self-esteem or personal power.
The Word “Can’t”
Once this was completed I then asked them to cross out the word “can’t” in each limiting belief and replace it with one of two options. Option A was, “I choose not to…” Option B was, “I am physically unable to because of the laws of nature to…”
The Million-Dollar Question
A lively discussion ensued about what we really believe we can and cannot do. Before selecting which option to use for each of their limiting beliefs, the students were expected to ask themselves what I call the “Million Dollar Question.”
The Million Dollar Question: “If you were to be given a million dollars, in cash, tax free and what ever time and resources you needed; could you learn to do this activity you believe you currently cannot do? In other words, if the “why” was big enough ($1,000,000) could we find a “how”?
Having applied the Million Dollar Question, I asked them to get a partner and check each others beliefs for truthfulness as to the application of the two Options of A and B. Some examples the students raised were: “I can’t make someone love me!” or “ I can’t speak Cantonese!” or “I can’t do calculus!” or “ I can’t jump over the moon!”
When each student had competed the rewrite of their limiting beliefs and had them checked by a classmate, I asked them to read each belief again to themselves and notice how different it felt in this new format in relation to their self esteem, self worth and personal power. They readily noticed the shift from powerlessness to powerfulness that occurred when they changed the wording of their self-talk about their limiting beliefs.
I Choose Not to…
I asked each student to read out to the class one of their beliefs which they now felt was more empowering. One young man, a physics major, said, “I am physically unable due to the laws of nature to be in two places at the same time!” A middle-aged woman said, “I choose not to speak Cantonese!” Another said, “I choose not to do calculus!” Another, “I am physically unable due to the laws of nature to get my boyfriend to love me!”
I Choose Not to Date
Then I asked if anyone had a limiting belief they had not changed much from the exercise. Jenny, a twenty-something female, with a sad and confused look, blurted out, “Yes, I do! I still can’t date but I guess I choose not to date.”
Confused with her remark, I made a wise crack about her probably choosing to spend her time on my course assignments instead. However, she didn’t pick up on my “joke” and maintained her serious expression. So I shifted to a serious tone and asked her why she choose not to date at this point in her life.
Jenny said, “When I ended my last relationship over a year ago, he threatened to kill himself. Now I am afraid if I get into another relationship and want to end it I could be responsible for someone ending their own life.”
I immediately said to her, “Jenny, you have an extra assignment for next class!”
She looked at me, clearly surprised.
I went on, “I want you to bring in to me, written out in your own hand writing, forty-nine reasons why the guy you dumped a year ago was lucky to have ever met you. And please be sure to bring it into our next class.”
Jenny looked at me startled, “You want forty-nine reasons why he was lucky to have met me… shouldn’t it be the other way around… unlucky?
“Jenny think about the time you spent in that relationship and identify across the seven areas of his life how it served him, benefited him, grew him, evolved him… whatever word fits for you… write them down and bring them in to me for the next class.”
Where to Start
Jenny said, “Where do I start…I don’t even know where to begin!”
I smiled at her and responded, “How about starting with noticing all the time you spent with him reminding him you valued him at that time and so raising his self worth and self-esteem.” I added, “And how about all the new connections he made with other people by knowing you, and perhaps your family and friends?” Then I added more, “And what about what he learned about his future relationships from being in one with you?”
Jenny now looked more reflective, “I never thought of it that way before!”
“Remember forty-nine benefits, seven in each of the seven areas of his life: spiritual, mental, vocational, financial, social, familial and physical.” I concluded.
49 Reasons Why He Was Lucky
At our next class Jenny walked up and handed me three sheets of loose-leaf paper; every line filled with crowded, detailed, black script. She looked at me with a soft, shy, half smile and said simply, “Thank you!”
“Jenny, may I use this as a learning tool for our class?” I said.
“Be my guest!”, she said widening her face into a full smile.
When my class started I said, “You may recall Jenny’s comment at our last class and the extra assignment I gave her. She has given me permission to share what she learned with our class. I want to read to you a sample of the benefits her ex boyfriend received from knowing her… and this is just one from each area of life which we have been studying in this course.”
I went to her three pages of notes and read from them as follows.
- He learned to believe in his own spirit when I urged him to try out for the hockey team.He learned to appreciate his own brains when we studied together for our accounting course.
- He learned to get more focus on his future when he and I both selected education as our majors.
- He learned it was not unmanly to let women pay their own way on dates at times.
- He connected with new people at the university like Thomas, Marina and Benjamin.
- He realized his family wasn’t as dysfunctional as he first thought when he met mine.
- He started cutting back on the steady stream of junk food he was consuming daily.
‘Emotional Blackmail’ or ‘Emotional Bullying’
I went on, “Jenny was experiencing a form of ‘emotional blackmail’ or ‘emotional bullying’ by a person desperate to feel valued. When she ended the relationship it challenged him to value himself more and find others to do the same. By ending the relationship she was actually loving him by challenging him to learn to love himself, learn to be more independence and learn to run his own life. He obviously had not achieved this yet.”
I added, “Loving someone is not only supporting them, that is just a temporary infatuation. Loving someone is equal amounts of both support and challenge so they grow in self worth, self-esteem and personal empowerment. So Jenny was loving him by pushing him away so he could learn to fly on his own.”
The Purpose of Relationships
I explained Jenny was handicapping her self-esteem with a limiting belief or attitude of her own. This is what initiated their attraction to each other. They both had important things to learn from each other. This is the purpose of every relationship.
Jenny believed she could protect her boyfriend from himself. Jenny believed she was responsible
for her boyfriend’s decisions. This nightmare of self-sabotage was confusing her and demanding she learn one of her life’s most important lessons. Jenny was pushed to notice her personal power ends at the tip of her nose in every relationship. You can only influence others but never control them. This lack of power over others ensures they learn to survive on their own for their own future. Otherwise, they would stay dependent and very vulnerable.
No One Can Make Anyone Do Anything
Usually the higher your levels of self worth, self-esteem or self-confidence the more evident this is to you. No one can make anyone do anything. If you doubt this try to get a two year old to do something they have chosen not to do… like eat their vegetables.
You are only responsible for our own decisions not those of others. To assume responsibility for someone else’s decisions in a relationship is disastrous. It is arrogant to assume we have such power over others. It is arrogant to assume people will use our value system to make their own decisions. It is arrogant to assume people would ignore their own value system and follow yours. The only thing you can trust anyone to do is live inside their own value system. Each of us does this unconsciously and consistently.
By Jenny listing the benefits her boyfriend gained from their relationship she opened her own awareness to the truth of their time together. The truth is always symmetrical. Since he valued their relationship so much he was only focusing on his losses. Jenny was doing the same. The truth was, there were equal gains for him and her. Once she listed his, it helped her realize he gained equally and helped her realize it was very unlikely he would pursue his threat. This was verified by the fact that she knew he was still alive and well. Jenny gained by learning to honor her self and her self-esteem and not to assume she had power over others.
“The only thing you can trust anyone to do is live inside their own value system!” Ken Pierce
So, check out our “Take Away Tool” below to discover the value of a relationship you question. If I can assist feel free to contact me.
POINTS TO PONDER AND REMEMBER:
1. Each of us is wired biologically to act selfishly to ensure our survival.
2. Most things we can’t do is by choice not physical or mental limitation.
3. If our “why” is big enough, we can usually find out how to do anything.
4. We often de-power ourselves with limiting beliefs.
5. A common limiting belief is we can control others.
6. The truth is we can only influence others if they agree.
7. The truth is we only control one person, the one in the mirror.
8. The purpose of every relationship is to learn vital things about yourself.
9. There is always equal gains and losses in every relationship.
10. The only thing you can trust anyone to do is live inside their value system.
YOUR TAKE AWAY TOOL:
“Uncovering a Relationship’s Value”
Step 1: Identify a relationship whose value is unclear to you.
Step 2: Identify at least one specific benefit to how you see yourself from the last time you were with this person. (e.g. He was so intolerant I realized I am more open minded that I realized)
Step 3: Take this one benefit and notice how it impact the seven areas of your life simultaneously. (e.g.: spiritual – I appreciate my spirit more; mental – my self esteem goes up a notch; vocational – I am more effective with certain colleagues; financial – I have more self worth; social – I get along better with others; familial – I appreciate certain family members more; physical – I am less stressed by intolerance.)
Need Help Recognizing Your Self-Esteem?
Ken Pierce can help and he guarantees results!