Stories I only tell my friends: The Power Of Belief-System

October 13, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized — mylittleblackpen @ 11:37 am

We start forming our self-esteem, positive or negative, from the way we are born. We develop feelings about ourselves that are reinforced by others.

Negative self-talk or negative auto-suggestions – This is when we say to ourselves, consciously or unconsciously, statements such as:

  • I have a poor memory
  • I’m not good at math
  • I’m not athlete
  • I’m tired

Such statements only reinforce the negative and put ourselves down. Very soon our mind starts believing these statements and our behavior changes accordingly. They become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Environment – Home – The greatest thing that a parent can give to his children is roots. The best part of a family tree is the roots. Noticing a little girl’s courteous and polite behavior, the teacher asked, “Who taught you to be so courteous and polite?” The girl replied, “No one, it just runs in our family”.

Upbringing – “Fellow citizens, why do you turn and scrap every stone to gather wealth and to take so little care of your children to whom one day, you must relinquish it all?”

In order for our children to turn out well, we need to spend twice the time and half the money. It is less painful to learn in youth than be ignorant as an adult. Parents with high self-esteem breed confidence and high self-esteem in their children by giving them positive concepts, beliefs, and values. The reverse is also true.

It is a great heritage to have honest parents. Parents who participate in crooked business deals unfortunately set bad examples for their future generations. A strong role model or mentor could be a parent, relative, or teacher who is held in high regard. During their formative years, children look up to adults in positions of influence. Even as adults, we look to our supervisors and managers as role model.

Building confidence

A young couple used to leave their daughter at a day-care center every day before going to work. As they parted company, the parents and child kissed each other’s hand and then put the kisses in their pockets. All during the day when the little girl got lonely she would take out a kiss and put it on her cheek. This little routine made them feel together even though they were physically apart. What a wonderful thought.

What makes a child a delinquent?

  • Teach him to put a price tag on everything and he will put his integrity for sale
  • Teach him never to take a stand and then he will fall for anything


If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with praise, he learns to appreciate.

If a child lives with hostility, he learns to fight. If a child lives with ridicule, he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with encouragement, he learns confidence.

If a child lives with shame, he learns to feel guilty. If a child lives with approval, he learns to like himself.

If a child lives with fairness, he learns justice.

If a child lives with security, he learns to have faith.

If a child lives with acceptance and friendship, he learns to find love in the world.

Education – Being ignorant is not shameful, but being unwilling to learn is. Role models can teach through example. Children who are taught the important of integrity during their formative years generally don’t lose it. It becomes a part of life, which is what we are looking for in any profession, whether in a contractor, attorney, accountant, politician, police officer, or judge. Integrity is a lot stronger than honesty. In fact, it is the foundation of honesty.

Youths are impressionable. When they see their mentors – such as parents, teachers, or political leaders – cheating with pride or bragging about petty dishonesty such as stealing a towel in a hotel or cutlery from the restaurants, the following happens:

  • They are disappointed
  • They lose respect for their mentors
  • Constant exposure breeds acceptance in them

Poor role models

A schoolteacher asked a little boy what his father did for a living. The boy replied, “I’m not sure, but I guess he makes pens, pencils, light bulbs, toilet roll, etc., because that is what he brings home every day in his lunch box”.

Making unfair comparison – Fair comparisons are OK but unfair comparisons make a person feel inferior. Comparison basically brings out the competitive spirit to outperform the next person. People with high self-esteem don’t compete with others; instead, they improve their own performance. They compete against themselves. They compare their performance against their capabilities.

Failure or success: a ripple effect – There is a lot true in the statement, “success breeds success and failure breeds’ failure”. In sport, we often see that whenever the champion’s morale is low – and it does get low at some point – the coach will never put him up against a good fighter because if he suffers one more defeat, his self-esteem will go even lower. To bring his self-confidence back the coach pits him against a weak opponent, and that victory raises his self-esteem. A slightly stronger opponent is next and the victory brings up the level of confidence, and on and on until the day comes when the champion is ready to face the ultimate challenge.

With every success, self-confidence goes up and it is easier to succeed the next time. For this reason, any good leader, be it a parent, teacher, or supervisor, would start a child off with easy tasks. With every successful completion, the child’s level of confidence and self-esteem go up. Add to the positive strokes of encouragement, and this will start solidifying positive self-esteem. Our responsibility is to help break the chain of failure and put ourselves and our children into the chain of success.

Confusing failing with failure – When people fail in any particular event, most get so disheartened that they start looking at themselves as failures, not realizing that failing does not equal failure. I might have failed but I am not a failure. I may be fooled but I am not a fool.

Unrealistic expectations of perfection by parents, teachers and supervisors – Suppose a child comes home with a report card with five As and one B. Usually the first thing his parents will say is, “Why the B?” What do you think will go through the child’s mind? Did he try for the B? Or should his parents congratulate the child for the B and accept a lower standard? Not at all.

What the child is really looking for is acknowledgement and encouragement for the effort in getting the five As. A parent after acknowledging and praising the As, can make clear his expectations of seeing all six As and offer help if needed. If we lower our standards, the chances are pretty good that the performance next time would drop to those expectations.

Similarly, at work, an employee does 100 things right and one thing wrong. Guess what the boss picks on. Acknowledge the positive but don’t lower your standards.

Lack of discipline – What is discipline? Is it absolute freedom to do what a person wants? Is freedom regardless of consequences? Does it mean corrective action after a problem occurs or a wrong is done? Is it imposition? Is it abuse? Does it take away freedom?

The answer is none of the above. Discipline does not mean that a person takes a belt and beats up kids. That is madness. Discipline is loving firmness. It is direction. It is prevention before a problem arises. It is harnessing and channeling energy for great performance. Discipline is not something you do but you do for those you care about.

Discipline is an act of love. Sometimes you have to be unkind to be kind: Not all medicine is sweet, not all surgery is painless, but we have to take it. We need to learn from the nature. We are all familiar with that big animal, the giraffe. A mama giraffe gives birth to a baby giraffe, standing. All of a sudden, the baby falls on a hard surface from the cushion of mama’s womb, and sits on the ground. The first thing mama does is to get behind the baby and give him a hard kick. The baby gets up, but sits down again. Mama keeps kicking till the baby gets on its feet and starts moving. Why? Because mama knows that the only chance of survival for the baby in the jungle is to get on its feet. Otherwise it will be eaten up by wildcats and become dead meat.

My question to you is: Is this an act of love? You bet it is. Children brought up in a loving, disciplined environment end up respecting their parents more and become law-abiding citizens. The reverse is just true. Good parents are not afraid of momentary dislike by children to enforce the subject.

Is discipline is practiced in every home; juvenile delinquency would be reduced by 95%.

J. Edgar Hoover

Discipline gives freedom – Allowing a child to eat a box of chocolate could lead to sickness. At the same time, the discipline of eating one or two pieces a day can be an enjoyable experience for a longer time. Our instinct makes us do whatever we want regardless of the consequences.

Freedom is not procured by a full enjoyment of what is desired but controlling the desire.


There is a misconception that freedom means doing your own thing. One cannot always have what one desires. Many times it is not easy to comprehend the benefits of good values and discipline. It may even seem more profitable, enjoyable, and convenient to do otherwise. All we need to do is see countless instances where lack of discipline has prevented people from succeeding.

What we think is pulling us down is really taking us up. That is what discipline is all about. A boy was flying a kite with his father and asked him what kept the kite up. Dad replied, “The string”. The boy said, “Dad, it is the string that is holding the kite down”. The father asked his son to watch as he broke the string. Guess what happened to the kite? It came down. Isn’t that true in life? Sometimes the very things that we think are holding us down are the things that are helping us fly. That is what disciplines all about.

I want to be free – We hear this phrase all the time: “I want to be free”. If you take the train off the track, it is free, but where does it go? If everyone could make their own traffic laws and drive on any side of the road would you call that freedom or chaos? What is missing is discipline. By observing the rule, we are actually gaining freedom, aren’t we?

It loves firmness – If your child had a fever of 105°F and did not want to go to the doctor, what would you do? We would get medical help even if the child resisted. Why? Because it is in the best interest of the child.

Parenting is not a popularity contest – A judge, when sentencing a man for robbery, asked if he had anything to say. The man replied, “Yes, your honor. Please sentence my parents to jail also”. The judge asked, “Why?” The prisoner answered, “When I was a little boy, I stole a pencil from school. My parent knew about it but never said a word. Then I stole a pen. They knowingly ignored it. I continued to steal many other things from the school and the neighborhood till it became an obsession. They knew about it, yet they never said a word. If anyone belongs in jail with me, they do”.

He is right. In not discharging their responsibilities, his parents are also to blame although it does not absolve him of his responsibility. Giving choice to children is important, but choices without direction result disaster. Complete mental and physical preparation is the result of sacrifice and self-discipline.

Ask yourself: without discipline,

  • Can a captain run a ship effectively?
  • Can an athlete win a game?
  • Can a violinist play well at a concert?

The answer is, “Of course not”. Why then do we question today, in matter of personal conduct, or to achieve any standard, if discipline is necessary? It is absolutely necessary. Today the philosophy is: “If it fells good, do it”. How and where we drive our happiness from is just as important as the happiness itself. It is a result of our values, discipline, and responsibility.

We keep hearing “does what you like”. The reverse is just as true. Like what you do. Many times we need to do we what ought to be done whether we like it or not. A mother comes home after a long day’s work, takes care of the household chores, looks after the baby and goes to sleep exhausted. In the middle of the night the baby cries. Does mama feel like getting up? No, but she gets up anyway. Why? For three reasons:

  • Love
  • Duty
  • Responsibility

We cannot live our lives by emotion alone. We need to add discipline, no matter what age we are. Winning in life comes when we do not succumb to what we want to do but do what ought to be done. That requires discipline.

Labeling and put-downs by parents, teachers and supervisors – Have you heard some parents playfully or affectionately calling their kids “dummy” and “stupid”? Labels stick for life. When the kids grow up they will be sure to prove the parents right. Labels do not only stick for life but for generations.  The caste system in India is a prime example of how labeling can hurt. Upper caste or lower caste, “If it is not a label, what is it?”

Common put-downs parents say to their kids are:

  • You are dumb
  • You never do anything right
  • You will never amount to anything

Teaching the right values – Many times, inadvertently, and innocently, we end up teaching wrong values within our families and organizations. For example, we tell our children or staff to lie for us:

  • Tell them I am not here
  • The check is in the mail

We all look to our parents, teachers, and supervisors to teach us integrity. And many times we are disappointed. Practicing these petty lies turns a person into a professional liar. When we teach others to lie for us, a day will come when they will lie to us too. For example, a secretary calls in sick when she really wants to go shopping. May be the boss gave her enough practice lying for him that she has become an expert in lying to him.

A Little Black Pen

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