And the winner of the Murphy’s Law Award goes to…
Those words began twenty-one years of negativity, self-doubt, and a victim mentality. And they came from my eighth grade social studies teacher.
It seemed funny at the time, but she awarded me the Murphy’s Law Award.
Other kids got “Hardest Worker,” “Most Creative,” or “Most Helpful to Others.” I got “Most Likely to Have Things Go Wrong.” Gee, thanks Mrs. So-and-So.
The tape in my head
It shouldn’t have affected me as it did. I should have been stronger. I should have allowed all the positive things in my life to overpower it.
But I was thirteen. And thirteen year olds shouldn’t be told that. I had no idea how to handle it. So, I believed that it was true.
I became a problem looking for a place to happen.
I became an obstacle looking for a path to block.
If life didn’t give me a problem, I made one myself. Life became an ongoing string of self-sabotages.
When external forces did present obstacles, the tape in my head (this was 1992, it was still a tape) said, “See, I told you so. It’s too hard; it will always be too hard.”
The world was out to get me, my tape said. Looking back, I am amazed at the depths to which my mind could go.
I learned better
For the longest time, everything I read or heard that told me I was not a victim, but a victor, that I was more than a conqueror, that I was a champion…all of that was drowned out by the tape in my head, by that one single moment when a teacher told me that my lot in life was misfortune and pain.
Even when I proved my tape wrong and won golf tournaments, won business awards, or won my wife’s heart; my tape said it wouldn’t last.
But what I didn’t realize is that all those positive voices were slowly whittling down my tape’s power. They were drowning out the negative voices. Slowly…slowly…slowly.
Overcoming your negative voices
So, in one of my more contemplative moments recently, I remembered that day in eighth grade. I don’t remember the teacher’s name. As a teacher and person, she was that forgettable. But I remembered her words. And I forever cast them to the depths of the sea.
Those words are no longer true. I choose to look for the good that can happen in the world. I choose to accept obstacles, struggles, and pain as refiners of gold, not pre-destined roadblocks to success.
And you can, too.
If you’ve gone through life with the same tapes I had, you can overcome them. Allow the positive voices to overpower the negative ones.
Don’t quit inputting positive voices into your head just because they aren’t working like magic. It took me twenty-one years to overcome one negative voice from someone whose name I can’t even remember. It might take you just as long or possibly longer. But don’t give up, because when you finally do win, it will be worth every struggle along the way.
In the words of Jim Valvano,
Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.
Victory is inside you. It’s time to let it out.
How have you allowed someone else’s words to influence you, negatively or positively? If negatively, how can you overcome that?