You Become What You Tell Yourself

Even though I know better, for some years and until just very recently, I have been telling myself, “I’m bad at recalling names.” Quite a handicap for someone who earns their living by public speaking and personal coaching!

The Law of Attraction says, “You attract more of what you focus on.” The more I told myself and others that I couldn’t seem to remember names, the truer it became. In fact, if I kept going, I was in danger of forgetting my own!

It wasn’t always so. In his remarkable How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie strongly emphasizes how much we like to hear our names. I read the book in the ninth grade, memorized the names of every last one of my 200+ classmates and made sure to always greet them by name. I was running for Student Council, and I was elected.

You’d think that unforgettable lesson would have stuck with me.

Well, no. I understood the power of the technique I had learned, but I became increasingly lazy about applying it.

Yes, I was lazy, pure and simple. Somewhere along the line I had decided that because most people forget the names of others, it was okay for me to forget too and just offer apologies. The problem is that every time I did, I was lying: I knew I was completely capable of recalling names; I just chose to be forgetful.

A month ago, I told myself “enough is enough”—it was high time to practice what I preach and use the power of focus to remember names. Whereas in the past I had decided I was bad at recalling names, the time had come to decide that I was getting better at it.

My first step was to research memory aids. What did I focus on during my research? Recalling names!

Then, with each new person I met, I again practiced the power of focus. First, I would repeat the name and make sure I said it correctly. If I couldn’t grasp the name, I would ask the person to spell it. That helped me to visualize it as if were written on a piece of paper. Lastly, I would link the name to that of someone memorable for me. For example, meeting a man named Darren, I connected him in my mind to the character Darren on the old TV show Bewitched.

My point is not that you should strive to become a memory expert, but that you get what you focus on. You become what you tell yourself.

In order to bridge the gap between who you are today and who you want to be tomorrow, the language of “becoming” is useful.

I don’t say to myself, “I’m good at names.” I’m not there yet. Instead I say, “I’m getting better each day at remembering names.”

When you try to learn a new computer program or other new skill, for example, it is counterproductive to say things such as, “I’ll never learn this,” or “This is too hard.” Remember, you get what you focus on. The more you tell yourself how difficult it is to learn something, the longer it will take for you to master it. A more rewarding self-conversation would be, ”I’m learning this, one step at a time.”

Using and benefiting from the Law of Attraction is a matter of practice, practice, practice. Most of us apply this principle in one area of our life but neglect it in another. That’s okay. It took you years to learn the bad habit of focusing on what you DON’T want; it will take years to develop the new habit of focusing on what you DO want.

The next time you find yourself saying a sentence that begins with the words “I am,” make sure that the end of that sentence is about something you want.

Think you can remember that?

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