Self-Image, the Catalyst for Change

What can you become?

Let’s talk about the topic of self-image and how it relates to personal change. Everyone has a concept of themselves – a self-image. You hear somebody say, “I’m just not good at math” or “I’m just not a runner” or “I’m just not musically inclined” or “I can’t sing.” You hear them describe themselves in these kinds of terms. Where did they get those ideas? Who told them these things? How do they know they can’t sing or they can’t run or they can’t do this or that? Where did they learn these things?

We get so convinced of these ideas that we believe them and that becomes who we are. This can happen even in the positive sense. We hear someone say, “Oh, I’ve always been good at art” or “I’m a creative person, I’ve always been a creative person.” How did we get those beliefs in the first place? How did those beliefs get installed in our mind?

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that we do come to this earth with a package of personality traits and talents. Yes, there are certain attributes and strengths that make us unique as an individual. But I believe many of the strengths and weaknesses that we believe we have are self-created, that they were given to us or programmed in us either by our upbringing, or by the people we’ve associated with or by our personal experiences.

We try something once and fail and make a decision in our mind that we’re not good at that. We say things like “I just wasn’t cut out for public speaking” or “I’m just not good at football” or “I’m just not a sports-type person.” We tell ourselves this enough times that we believe it. I feel that the majority of those kinds of ideas are self-created and anything that is self-created can be changed.

Rather than have these beliefs created by default, we can create our own beliefs and concepts about our self. We can stop telling ourselves “I’m not good at this” or “I’m not good at that” and say “yes, I am a creative person, I’m an athletic person, I’m a health nut, I’m a good person, I’m a patient person” instead of “Oh, yeah, I have a bad temper” or “yeah, I’ve always had a weakness for chocolate.” I say baloney! You can change those things and it all has to do with your self-image, what you believe about yourself. That’s what your self-image is and it has a HUGE impact on what you CAN and CANNOT do!

Have you ever been to a hypnosis show where a hypnotist hypnotizes certain members of the audience and they do things they normally would not do such as belt out a popular song or sing opera? Well, this person has never sung opera before or at least never attempted it. How is it now that they are able to sing opera? Does the hypnotist have some magic ability to impart to this person some special talent? No! Anything you see somebody do in a hypnotist show is something that person already had the ability to do but just does not believe it. The only thing a hypnotist does is take away their unbelief and take away their fear and that is how they perform those things. The stutterer begins to speak normally. A shy person becomes extremely friendly and bubbly and able to carry on a conversation.

So when we see people in a hypnotist type show like that do things that they wouldn’t normally do, it is simply because the hypnotist has taken away their fear, has taken away their negative beliefs about themselves. The things you see them do, they already know how to do. They already are able to do them. It’s just that their beliefs limit them. The hypnotist just removes those negative beliefs about themselves and allows them to do the things that they really can do in the first place.

Exercise: Write Down a Description of Your Present and Future Self

Every one of us has these kind of incorrect, wrong beliefs about ourselves. If you sat down and just described yourself right now and wrote down a list of all the attributes about you, the positive and negative, what would you write down? “Oh I’m good at this, I’m not good at that, I’m this kind of person, I’m that kind of person.” Well, I think it’s worth it to sit down and do that. Describe yourself. What makes you you? Describe everything about you: your weaknesses, your strengths, your talents, your limitations, the things you’re good at, the things you’re not good at. Make a list.

Now examine that list and realize that most of what’s on that list is incorrect. Most of what’s on that list was created in your own mind as you grew up. These are programs or thoughts or beliefs that were given to you in one way or another, either by those that you associate with, your family, your friends or your personal experiences and you made decisions along the way about what kind of a person you are.

So examine that list. Now on another sheet of paper write another list of how you would like to be, the attributes, the strengths, the things you would like to have in your life. Now look at those two lists and realize that you have the power within you right now to reprogram your mind, to remove those negative beliefs and influences and to install positive beliefs about yourself.

You Can Change Your Self-Image

This whole list business has to do with self-image, of what you believe about yourself. It’s incredible how powerful that is. If you can realize that you can change those beliefs then you can make a huge change in your life about what kind of a person you are. You no longer need to believe that you are an overweight person, that you’re not an athletic person or a healthy person. That’s a bunch of baloney. It is, especially when you say you have certain weaknesses. Well, you have the same brain as anyone else, the same biological makeup as anyone else. It’s just that you have had things programmed into your mind that take you in certain directions when certain conditions exist.

It’s like the path or the trail that your mind follows when you encounter certain conditions. You can change that path. You can block the old path. A path not used will soon become overgrown. You can erase the old path and create a new path and part of doing that is changing the beliefs about yourself.

I have experienced this in my own life when I have actually made a concerted effort to see myself as another person that had admired. I forced myself, everyday, to say that “today I am going to think, act, walk and talk like that person.” There was a particular person that I admired at that time and it truly was amazing how my behavior changed throughout the day, how certain things never even came up as a temptation to me, how my mind went in certain directions that I normally wouldn’t go and my thoughts and my abilities had changed. That has to do with your self-image or your self-identity, who you believe or think you are in your mind. It’s a very powerful thing.

So the whole idea or thought or thrust about this self-image thing is that you really need to concentrate on your self-concept, what you believe about yourself and realize that if you have old, negative beliefs, you can change those beliefs. You don’t have to believe those things. You can begin telling yourself that, “I am a healthy person. I am a creative person, a musical person. I can sing. I can do this or do that,” whatever it is that you felt in the past that you couldn’t do or did not have the ability or talents to do. Realize that most of that is self-created and most of that can be changed. You have the power within you, so use it!

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson

Who Do You Think You Are?

BeliefsWho you think you are has more to do with the way you behave than you realize. That’s really the key – who you really believe you are. If you really believe you are a failure, if you believe you are bad at math, if you believe you are a poor public speaker – those beliefs manifest themselves in your actions. You become no more than what you believe you are.

Putting on a pair of glasses

What if I told you that you could take your beliefs and change them in the same way that you can take off a pair of glasses and put on another pair of glasses. When you put on another pair of glasses, let’s say a pair of sunglasses, you see everything differently – EVERYTHING! Now what you see, you see through the lenses of those glasses.

Your beliefs are the same way. Everything you do or every decision you make goes through the lens of your beliefs. If you believe that you’re a failure or you believe that you’re this kind of person or that kind of person, then no matter what, you are always seeing yourself through that lens. What you need to do is change the lens of your beliefs – the beliefs of who you are.

Removing doubts and fears

Some people look at hypnosis and they think that it’s some kind of trick, that it’s a farce. They think that the people are faking it. They don’t believe in hypnosis. But, hypnosis really does work. It’s a very simple thing. It doesn’t give anyone any special abilities or allow them to do anything that they don’t already know how to do. When a hypnotist hypnotizes someone and causes, for example, someone who stutters to give an eloquent speech, or causes someone who is afraid of heights to walk across a beam laid across two ladders, or someone who can’t sing to sing a beautiful song – the hypnotist is not giving these people these abilities, these abilities already existed in these people. The only thing the hypnotist is doing is removing their doubts that they can do these things. He’s removing their doubts so that they totally believe they can do it. That’s all hypnosis is. It is removing all inhibitions, doubt and fear that you can do something. The things that people do under hypnosis are things they already have the ability to do, but just don’t believe they can.

What are your beliefs?

I want you to think about that concept and think about your own life and think about the things that you continually fail at or that you continually can’t do or can’t accomplish. Is it because you don’t have the ability or is it because you simply believe deep down inside that you can’t do it, that you are not that kind of a person?

For example, there are people who all their lives have told themselves, “I’m not a runner, I can’t run, I hate running. It’s painful.” And they have never been able to run because they have told themselves that they are not a runner. That’s their belief. Well, there are some of these people who have had this belief all their life and have changed their belief. They began running and began training and got past that belief and suddenly realized that people aren’t runners or not runners and that you weren’t born into this world a runner and some people not runners. It’s all in your mind. It’s all what you believe.

These very same people who all their lives believed that they were not runners have been able to run marathons. Think about it! Suddenly they realized that they were a runner. They look at themselves now as a runner. It’s now a part of their being. It’s now a part of who they are. And now that they see themselves as a runner, they can RUN! And now that they believe that it’s enjoyable, they enjoy it!

What I’m trying to tell you here is that you need to change your beliefs about who you are. Not just parts of who you are but your entire being. Let’s go back to the glasses example. Think about it again. Let’s review it again. If you put on a pair of rose colored glasses, everything you see in this world is rose colored. No matter what it is that you see you see it through those rose colored glasses.

Who do you think you are?

I want you to take this example and think about who you are. Let’s say that you believe that you are a failure or that you are never going to be successful, that you are never going to accomplish the things in life that you want to accomplish. You have desires but your beliefs are not there. So, everything you do you see through those beliefs – the beliefs that you are a failure and no matter how hard you try you’re always seeing it through the “failure” lenses.

If you can understand this concept you can begin to identify your false beliefs about yourself and begin to change them. Put your false beliefs away and begin to see yourself as the person you desire to become. By changing your beliefs you can experience dramatic changes in your life.

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson

We Hear What We Listen For

Alarm ClockGood morning! Today I want to talk about an interesting phenomenon that actually happened this morning. It has to do with your mind’s ability to block out what it’s not interested in and only let in what it is trained to let in.

What brought this up was what happened this morning when my alarm went off. I have to admit that I hit the snooze button and jumped back in bed to sleep for 10 more minutes. I actually set my alarm 10 minutes earlier than when I plan to get up. So I lay back in bed and slept a little longer. When my alarm went off again and when I woke up I noticed that my wife was already out of bed. She wasn’t there. She had already gotten up to go wake the boys so they could do their paper route.

I thought it was interesting that I didn’t hear her alarm at all. We both have alarm clocks. They are very similar. They each have a red digital readout and their alarms sound very similar. It’s that annoying beep beep beep sound that today’s alarm clocks typically make. The sounds of the two alarm clocks aren’t that different really. They aren’t exactly the same but very similar. I thought it was interesting that my mind, my brain, is trained to hear my alarm clock and not hers. Her alarm didn’t wake me up but mine did. I thought it was interesting that I hear mine but I don’t hear hers. How can that be?

It makes you wonder about what else in life we don’t see or hear because of what our minds have been trained to see or hear. There is a story I once heard that helps us understand this phenomenon.

WE HEAR WHAT WE LISTEN FOR

Two men were walking along a crowded sidewalk in a downtown business area. Suddenly one exclaimed: ‘Listen to the lovely sound of that cricket.’ But the other could not hear. He asked his companion how he could detect the sound of a cricket amid the din of people and traffic. The first man, who was a zoologist, had trained himself to listen to the voices of nature. But he didn’t explain. He simply took a coin out of his pocket and dropped it to the sidewalk, whereupon a dozen people began to look about them. ‘We hear,’ he said, ‘what we listen for.’ –Kermit L. Long, taken from ‘The Three Boxes of Life,’ by Richard Bolles

We hear what we listen for. What are our minds trained to hear? What are out eyes trained to see? What are we conscious of and what are we unconscious of? What are we paying attention to and what are we not paying attention to?

I have read many times about a function of the brain called the RAS. It stands for the Reticular Activating System. Basically it’s what filters things in our brain. It’s what determines what you notice and what you don’t notice. The example that’s usually given, and it’s a great example because many of us have experienced it, is when you purchase a new car. Suddenly you begin to see that car all around you. You never noticed those cars before but now that you own one it’s on your mind, it’s what’s important to you. It’s not that these cars didn’t exist before, it’s just that you didn’t notice them.

I remember years ago I re-roofed my house. I did it myself and it was a huge project for me to do. It was interesting that during the weeks I was involved in that project, everywhere I drove, I noticed roofs. I never noticed roofs before. But since I was heavily involved in it that’s what I noticed. I think I knew everybody’s roof in the neighborhood, what condition it was in and what color it was, because that’s what I paid attention to. To me that was very interesting that suddenly I paid attention to everybody’s roof.

The down side to this is that by focusing your attention on one thing, in reality you are deleting everything else that your mind and body it receiving inputs from – sights, smells, sounds. So what are you deleting in your life? Is it good or is it bad? I think it can be both ways. If your mind let everything in you would be overwhelmed by the amount of information that would be flowing into your brain. You have to have a way of filtering it so that only those things that are important to you really register and make a difference. But we have to be careful not to be so focused on things that other important things get deleted out of our awareness and out of our lives.

So my message for today is to be aware of what you’re not being aware of, pay attention to what you’re not paying attention to. Make sure that we’re not leaving out the important things in life that we should be paying attention to.

Thank you.

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson

Focus On You, Not Your Problem

Focus

What if I could show you a way to overcome the biggest obstacles in your life that was totally different than the advice you get everywhere else – and what if it really worked? I’m talking about obstacles such as smoking, drinking, anger, overeating, staying up too late, bad relationships or even drug and pornography addictions. Think for a moment about the biggest obstacle that is holding you back in your life. Think about how you’ve been dealing with it. What I want to present today is a better approach to eliminating it from your life.

In order for me to more clearly explain this I want to use a visual example.

The Trail of Life

Obstacle1

Picture yourself walking down a trail (which is exactly what I happen to be doing right now as I record this.) You are walking along a path. This path is your life. You are walking along the trail of life. As you move forward along this trail of life you are progressing and moving forward in your life. A simple analogy.

The Obstacle in Your Path

Now you are going along your merry way and you come across a huge boulder in the trail. It covers the entire path and blocks your way. You can’t go any further. It’s a huge obstacle in your way. You look at the boulder and you think, “How am I going to deal with this? I’ve got to somehow get it out of my way.”

Focusing On Your Obstacle Doesn’t Work

You try pushing on the boulder. You put your back up against it and push with your feet and it doesn’t budge. You run at it and hit it with your shoulder and it doesn’t move. You try to go around it but it’s so big you can’t get around it. You try to climb over it but it’s just too tall. You try to dig under it. You get down on your knees and try to dig with your hands. You scratch and scrape and dig in the hard ground and you make very little progress. You work and work on that boulder and try every way possible to get rid of it and no matter what you do you fail. The more you work on this boulder the more frustrated you get, the more tired you get, the more discouraged you get. It just can’t be done.

Finally you sit down on the trail because you feel like giving up. You think, “What am I going to do? I try and try to get this boulder out of my way and no matter what I do I can’t seem to overcome it.” It’s extremely discouraging and frustrating to you.

The boulder represents the biggest struggle or obstacle you face in your life. This is the thing that’s holding you back the most in your life. You have tried and tried and struggled for years to get rid of this problem from your life with no success.

Change Your Focus

The big revelation here is that you’ve been focusing on the wrong thing. You’ve been putting all of your time and energy and attention into your problem. Strange as it may be, that’s the wrong place to put it.

Obstacle2

I’ve had the opportunity to meet with a number of people who have come to me for counsel with huge issues and problems in their lives that they have struggled with for months and years. Generally this is the case: they have put all their focus and energy on the problem. Usually I will take out a sheet of paper and draw a simple picture of them on the trail with the big rock that stands in their way. I tell them that their focus and energy has been on the wrong thing, on their problem. I then draw a big arrow pointing at the problem.

Work On You, Not Your Problem

Then I draw another arrow pointing at them and say, “This is where you need to be focusing, not on your problem but on yourself.” For most people this is an entirely new concept, something they have never considered. It is the idea that they need to worry and focus on themselves, not their problem.

What does this mean?

Let’s say you are trying to quit smoking. Normally you put all of your efforts into trying not to smoke. You get rid of your cigarettes and you get the nicotine patch and you do the typical things people do to try to quit smoking. It’s constantly on your mind as you try to overcome your smoking habit.

Let’s say it’s overeating. That’s a fairly common one. You struggle so hard to not eat bad foods. You have a long list of the foods you shouldn’t eat and you try everything possible to conquer your habit of overeating.

What I say is that it doesn’t work. What you need to do is focus on strengthening the character traits in yourself that are incompatible with your habit or problem.

In the case of overeating, instead of focusing on not eating certain foods, your focus and energy would be on yourself as far as eating healthy food and exercising. Your focus would be on yourself as a fit and healthy person, instead of focusing on what you don’t want. You get your mind off the boulder and onto yourself.

Obstacle3

Picture in your mind the visual image of you on the trail with the obstacle in your path – the obstacle doesn’t change, you do! You grow! You become large. Compared to you, your obstacle is tiny! It’s not an issue any more because you simply step over it and go on your way. You never even deal directly with the problem because it is now so insignificant. You’ve grown and strengthened yourself so much in that particular area that it’s no longer a problem for you.

Does it Really Work?

You may be wondering if this method really works. Let me share with you a story that happened recently. I was working with a young man who was struggling with pornography. He hated it. He wanted to be free of the temptations and had struggled for some time on his own to stop. Each time he gave-in to temptation he would tell himself, “I’m never going to do that again” only to have it happen again in a few days. He failed because he focused on the problem.

As I worked with him I drew on a chalkboard the picture of the person on the trail with the big obstacle in the way. I told him to quit worrying about his problem and start working on himself.

We came up with some ways that he could strengthen himself spiritually. He determined that he would sincerely pray and read scriptures every day. He also decided to be nicer to his family and just be a better person.

For a number of weeks he worked at this and would report back to me from time to time. Several days ago we met again. He told me that when we began this program the temptations would still come back from time to time. Then he told me that for the last few weeks the temptations were totally gone. He said they never even crossed his mind. He said, “I never even thought about not thinking about it. It was just totally gone.” You should have seen the big smile on his face as he left my office.

My Challenge to You

I would like to challenge you to try this. Determine what is the biggest obstacle you face in your life. What is the thing that holds you back the most? How have you dealt with it? Have you put all your energy into fighting this obstacle directly? If so, I challenge you to change your focus and work on yourself. Make yourself bigger and stronger in the character traits that are incompatible with your obstacle. Work on those every day. Grow yourself to the point where all you need to do is step over your obstacle and continue on you path in life. May you succeed as I have seen many others succeed.

What are your thoughts on dealing with the obstacles your face? What methods have you used to combat these obstacles and have you met with success? Please share your thoughts and/ or experiences in the comments below.

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson

The Power of Decisions

Decisions

I want to talk today about the power of decisions. When you think about any change that you’ve ever made in your life, didn’t it really happen the moment you made a decision? Sometimes we say, “Oh it’s hard to change, it took me forever to change.” Usually what takes forever is getting yourself to the point of deciding. It’s the “getting ready to get ready to change” that’s takes so long. You really didn’t make any changes until you decided to change.

So you can say today, “That’s it! I’m done. I’m never going to do that again” or “this is the way I’m going to be from now on.” It’s the power of a decision. No change was ever made in anybody’s life without first deciding. Once you make a decision then you can move forward. A lot of times you say, “Oh it’s so hard to change, it’s so hard to do this, it’s so hard to do that” but really it’s not hard because you’re really not doing it yet, you’re really not making any effort until you decide.

The decision – when things begin to happen

Once you have made that decision, things start to happen in your life. Making that one single decision, saying from this point on, from this time, this minute, this second, I am going in a new direction. I am no longer going in the direction I was going. I have turned my life. I am headed in a new direction and everything I do and everything I say and everything I feel is different. This gets you on the road. You won’t totally change your life in a day but you will be amazed at how quickly you move in that direction.

Think for a moment about the story that Charles Dickens wrote, A Christmas Carol. Think about Scrooge. Think about what happened to him, how in an instant his life changed. After he was shown all the pain and misery of his past and the mistakes that he had made, and the person that he had become, and then as he looked into the future and was shown what his future would be if he continued on that path, if he continued in that direction – he made a decision, in an instant. He changed his direction. He changed his glasses, his lenses that he sees his life through. Suddenly everything changed.

Can you change in an instant?

Is it possible for a person to change in an instant? I believe it is. Think about Scrooge and how he changed in an instant. He totally changed his direction. He became a different person. Now, did everything change in his life all at once? No! But his direction changed and the lens through which he looked at life changed. The lens through which he made decisions, his feelings, his actions changed by changing that lens that he looked through. He changed the direction that he was headed in his life. Everything changed and he was now on the road in a different direction to a different life, to becoming a different person. You can do the same. You can make that change.

Now you don’t have to have spirits come to you in the night to show you the mistakes you have made in the past. You can do that on your own. Review your past. Review the pain that you’ve had in your life by going the direction you’re going right now. Think about all the pain you’ve suffered through. Think of all the opportunities that you’ve missed because of the actions and direction you’ve taken in your life. Think about where you could have been now.

Ponder your future

Think about your future. If you continue on the road that you are on now where will you be one year from now? Will you be any better of a person? Will you continue down hill? What about five years from now? Where will you be if you continue on this road that you’re headed without changing? What will your life be like? Is that where you want to be? Is that where you want to go? Experience the pain of this. Think about it. What kind of a life do you want? What kind of person do you want to be? Do you want to continue heading in the direction that you’re heading right now? Is that what you want? No!

As you experience this pain of your past mistakes and what it will mean to you in the future if you don’t make any changes – let it sink deep down into your heart, into your mind, into your emotions. Feel this pain and make a decision now, at this moment, that you will not put up with this any more, that you will not live another second in this world headed in that direction, that you are tired of tripping up, falling down, making mistakes, following the easy path and suffering the misery from this. You want better things in life.

You know deep down inside of you is a different person, a better person, a great person, a person with potential. The real you is deep down inside you. You know who the real you is and it’s trying to get out. Why not let him out now? Defeat the old “you” and let the new “you” out. You can do all this with the power of decisions.

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson

The Price Tags of Life

PriceTags of Life

Price tags

Everything in this life has a price tag. It’s up to you to read it correctly and decide whether you want to invest in it or not. You are the one who does the buying and selling. There are no special bargains or half-off sales. You reap all the profit or loss. Nature never fails. It always has and always will reward you for your right choices and punish you for your wrong choices.

What I’m talking about are The Price Tags of Life. What this means is that everything we do, every habit that we have, every action we perform, has a price tag attached to it. If you think about it and examine your actions and habits closely you will discover what their price tags are. We need to examine the price tags of life and see what it really costs us to do the things that we do. After we count what it costs and add up what we gain and then strike a balance, we can see if we are coming out ahead or not.

Smoking Example

There are many different examples. Let’s look at smoking. Let’s suppose you smoke. To determine whether you should or shouldn’t you need to determine what it is costing you. You take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle from top to bottom. In the left column write down all the benefits that you gain by performing this habit. Then in the right column write down what doing this habit is costing you.

You could do this with any number of habits or behaviors. One would be getting up every day and running. One could be the improper use of drugs such as painkillers. It could be an addiction to pornography. You can take any of these things and examine them closely and write the benefits and the costs and strike a balance. It helps you see clearly the price you are paying for that particular action or habit. Then you can determine whether or not it’s worth it. Some may be obvious but it’s still good to look at it because we may not realize what it’s actually costing us.

Drug Abuse Example

For example, let’s suppose you were a person who uses painkillers improperly. So you would write on the left-hand side of the page the benefits of using the painkillers. The benefits may be that whenever you use painkillers it gives you a sense of wellbeing. It just makes you feel good all over. You feel calm inside. It takes away the pain, not only physically but emotionally. That’s what a painkiller does – it removes pain. Other benefits perhaps are when you don’t feel good or are tired or don’t feel like doing something you could take a painkiller and after a while you feel pretty good. I can’t think of any other benefits of taking painkillers but if there were more you could list them.

Now on the right side of the page you start writing down what it cost to use painkillers. First of all you jeopardize your health, knowing that the painkillers are not good for your body. They’re not good for your heart. Every time you indulge in this habit it is damaging your body. Of course there are the actual costs. Somehow or another you are either buying these painkillers or are obtaining them in some other illegal way. So you have the actual costs in money. Another cost would be the risk that you take because what you’re doing is illegal. So you’re taking a legal risk every time that you take these painkillers. Another cost is that it impairs your judgment. When you think you are thinking clearly and you think you are acting rationally you may not be because the painkillers are affecting your mental state. They are impairing your ability to reason. Another cost is that you’re putting yourself in danger when you drive a car or operate any equipment because your reaction time is impaired. Another cost is that after a while you need more of the painkillers to get the same effect. So you need something more or harder to get the same effect. It becomes an addiction and you need to increase the dosage. Another cost is that usually this kind of a habit is done in secret. Your children, your spouse and the other people around you don’t know because you go to great lengths to hide it and conceal it from them and you always have the worry of being found out. This costs you two things: one is the constant worry of being found out and two is the real cost of being found out and losing the trust and respect of those who are close to you – your loved ones, your children, your spouse, your friends.

As you go through this and add up the benefits and add up the costs and then strike a balance you can see if what you’re doing is really worth what it’s costing you. You may want to put a value or weight on each of the costs and benefits such as a scale from one to ten. Some costs may be small and some may be great. Same with the benefits, some are small in value and some are large. So put a value on it so you can more accurately see what your habit or behavior is costing you in relation to its benefits.

Exercise Example

You could do this same thing with exercising each day. The benefits would be increased health, more energy and stamina, living longer and so on. The costs would be that you have to get up early in the morning. It requires effort. It’s not enjoyable. It takes time. You list the costs and benefits and determine if it’s worth it.

Relationship Example

Another example would be a relationship that you’re in and what it’s costing you. I’ve worked with people who are in relationships that are very damaging to them, to their whole wellbeing, to their future, and yet they stay in that relationship. They give reasons like, “he’s such a good friend, he’s always there for me, he’s so understanding.” Yet this supposed good friend, this understanding friend, is using them and taking advantage of them and in some ways abusing them and yet they don’t see it. They see the small benefit they gain and yet they fail to see what it’s really costing them such as their future opportunities in life or their future happiness.

Pornography Example

Another example is when I work with individuals who have a problem with pornography. On the left side of the paper you list the benefits such as the ecstasy, the pleasure, the release of stress they get when they view pornography. Then you start adding up the costs on the right side such as the warping their sense of what a true, loving relationship should be. They risk their job. They risk going to jail if they are into child pornography. They risk losing the love and respect of their spouse, their children, their community or their church. They risk losing the things they hold dear as far as the spiritual aspects of their life such as their relationship with God, knowing that they are offending God and distancing themselves from Him. They risk affecting their ability to commune with their creator by indulging in these things that are clearly offensive to God. Other prices they pay are stealing time from work if they indulge at work. There is the cost of simply wasting hours and hours of time looking at pornography and wasting what you cold have accomplished with that time. Those are the prices you are pay.

Review the Price Tags Every Day

Once you have done this little exercise then read these two lists every night. Don’t just read it over but review and think about each item on the list. See what it’s costing you and determine in your mind if it’s worth it. Do this on a daily basis. I am aware of people who have done this and within three weeks have made startling changes. They experienced no more desire to indulge in their habit. By bringing to their mind every day what it was costing them they were able to make that mental adjustment. They gradually gained self-mastery over their habit.

So my message today is to examine your life and look at the things that you may be struggling with and examine the price tags attached to them. Count the costs and determine if the benefits are really worth it. You may be surprised what you find out. Resolutions seldom work. Promises to never do it again are rarely kept. But reading The Price Tags of Life can help you gain intelligent self –mastery and thus change the course of your life.

Thank you.

Master Yourself, Master Your Life

Copyright © 2013 Gary N. Larson