“Take out the garbage. True happiness comes from within not from without!”
– Ken Poirot, American financial advisor and best-selling author
“You’re sure Dave won’t mind?” I asked. “He really loves this old chesterfield.”
“It’s garbage and it’s going to the landfill,” replied Colleen. “I told him about it.”
I wondered if Dave knew that I was helping his wife haul it there. I also wondered if he knew about the five or so boxes that Colleen was also loading into my truck. Dave had always been a bit of a hoarder and I occasionally wondered why he hung on so tightly to things most people would consider garbage. To be honest, most of it looked like garbage to me, too.
Garbage is all around us. But even more so, it’s in us: in our thoughts and our words, demonstrated in our attitude and expressed through our behaviour. The garbage I’m referring to is self-destructive ways of thinking and being that hold us back from happiness and success.
Think about any self-defeating belief, whether it be about success, abundance, happiness or joy. It’s obvious these notions are counter-productive so where did they come from and why do we hang on so tightly to them? Sometimes we collect and hoard our garbage. Other times, the garbage was given to us by a parent, sibling, or authority figure and we accepted it as useful or our burden to carry. Letting go can be a challenge as much of this “garbage” functions below the level of conscious awareness and never sees the light of a rational examination.
Garbage In, Garbage Out (GIGO) is a phrase used in the field of computer science. Computers will obediently process the most irrational of input data and produce equally nonsensical output. The subconscious mind is much like a computer in this respect. Wrong information and poor programming will generally bring about an adverse outcome. Garbage In, Garbage Out.
One of the best ways to rid ourselves of this garbage is to begin building our self-esteem. Improving our self-esteem requires a serious look at our belief and value systems. All change starts with awareness and, once aware, we can begin to rewrite the program.
When our programming is faulty and our output illogical or even self-destructive, we tend to defend our self-defeating behaviour in one of three ways: generalize, distort, or edit.
We may generalize our problems and assume everyone has the same ones. For example, we may assume everyone lives paycheque to paycheque if we do, and getting ahead is, therefore, impossible, so why bother trying?
Distortion is when we take an event and begin to exaggerate its importance or significance, for example, winning $10 on a lottery ticket and then assuming the big win is just a ticket or two away. Recently, I was at the mall and stood behind a man at the lotto kiosk who checked 42 tickets without winning a nickel. I know, I counted. He sighed heavily with each non-winning ticket and trudged away downhearted.
When we edit an experience, we leave out the parts that don’t support our beliefs or viewpoint. This is especially true when we’re justifying inappropriate behaviour.
Here’s something to keep in mind. Once you raise your awareness to the point of recognizing the garbage that you’re holding onto, you then need to take full responsibility for your programming and the quality of the data you feed into your computer-like subconscious. It means choosing to program yourself with useful information and beliefs: carefully selecting what you read, watch, say, hear, accept as true, and experience. Keep in mind, the GIGO premise also operates in reverse: quality in equals quality out.
In the words of American best-selling author and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, “What comes out of your mouth is determined by what goes into your mind.”
Not living the life you would like? It’s probably time you took out the garbage.
Murray Fuhrer is a self-esteem expert and facilitator. His most recent book is entitled Extreme Esteem: The Four Factors. For more information on self-esteem, check the Extreme Esteem website at www.extremeesteem.ca