Chances are you discovered this website because you are looking for happiness or success. You are not alone on this journey. As I mentioned previously, self-improvement is an $11 billion industry in the U.S. and yet 97 percent of self-help programs fail. Yes, you read that correctly. 97 percent of self-help programs fail.
Why such a high failure rate? The typical self-help blueprint is a flawed three-step process -- determine your goal, make a plan to achieve your goal and work that plan until your goal is achieved. This blueprint relies on two components: expecting an external end result and relying on willpower. These expectations cause chronic stress, whether the end result is achieved or not.
Dr. Dan Gilbert, Harvard researcher and author of the best seller Stumbling On Happiness, found through his research that expectations are a happiness killer. Whether it’s expectations regarding your health, your finances, your relationships or your career, the outcomes are typically externally driven and beyond your control. True success happens when we transition from a state of fear to an inward state of love, joy and peace.
Today I want to share with you a simple exercise to help reveal your internalized fears.Tonight before you go to bed, take time for a completely quiet, meditative moment -- no TV, no music on your headphones, no cell phone. Ask yourself these four questions as honestly as possible to help bring to the surface perceptions you have buried deeply:
- Do you feel safe?
- Do you feel you are a "good" person?
- Do you feel successful?
- Do you feel loved?
Now let’s discuss each one.
1. Do you feel safe?
The concept of safety goes back to what is referred to in psychology as Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. One of our most basic needs is safety - a roof over our heads, food to eat, being born into a safe environment. But it’s much more than Maslow posited. It also includes your feelings.
Almost all of what I call the hardware and software of your brain develops in the first six years of life. The problem is that this is the only time in your life that your brain is in delta/theta frequencies mode. Simply put, this means you do not have the ability to filter or logically analyze events. For example, a father and son are playing baseball and the dad jokingly says, “Well, you’re never going to make the Big League.” The dad can even hug his child afterwards but now they have a directive in their internal programming that says “I am not going to be a good baseball player.” Does that mean they’re not going to be a good baseball player? No, but every time they play, their subconscious will retrieve that memory.
Some people have dealt with substantial trauma and abuse. The bottom line is everyone has a delta/theta memory of not being safe. No traditional counseling or therapy that I know of will fix these subconscious memories.
2. Am I a good person?
I grew up in a Christian household that was very much ruled by the concepts of good versus bad. If I was good I gave myself a mental gold star, and if I was bad I got a red mark. Most people have a ratio in their mind as to what constitutes a “good” person - mine was that I needed 90 percent gold stars to 10 percent red marks in order to be a good person.
The problem is there are two systems of right and wrong. Once we get to age 8 or so we are supposed to start living by the second right or wrong system which is based on the theory that I do the best I can and I’m OK no matter what.
3. Do you feel successful?
I’ve been asking this question for 30 years in small groups, large audiences and one-on-one -- What do you want right now more than anything else?
Before you go any further, what is your answer? If you had one wish and you have to decide in ten seconds, what is your wish? 99 percent of the people that I have asked all over the world answer that question with a physical or external circumstance such as money, health or for someone to either start doing something or stop doing something. Now how would you feel if you attained that one wish? Peaceful? Content? Happy? This feeling that you are seeking is actually the true meaning of success for you, and not the external circumstance.
4. Do you feel loved?
This question goes much deeper than the routine “I love yous” we say to our friends and family. Love is a verb. Respond to this question as honestly as possible and dig deep. Do you have people in your life who totally, unconditionally no matter what love support and will act on your behalf even if it is a hardship to them and even if they disagree with what you have done or not done?
I will help you delve into these four questions even deeper with a more detailed quiz and I hope that these soul-searching questions have helped uncover deep seated issues that you may not have thought about before.
Most of us need a tool with instructions to discover what’s preventing our happiness and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 30 years. Watch this video to gain even more insight into the real heart of the matter surrounding these four questions.