Intentional Thinking Day 13: Shift Your Paradigm

Today, I started reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. I’ve been meaning to read this book for years and I’m so glad that I finally picked it up today, because just a few pages in, I’ve already had my first Eureka! moment.

Until now, my purpose in writing this blog series has been to share my reflections on books about positive thinking, but I’ve realized there’s more to intentional thinking than choosing to be positive. That positivity needs to flow from a healthy paradigm, paradigm meaning how we see the world and how we see ourselves in it. Covey writes, “To try to change outward attitudes and behaviors does very little good in the long run if we fail to examine the basic paradigms from which those attitudes and behavior flow” (28).

This resonates with me because when I was depressed, I viewed myself as worthless. And because I was worthless, nothing I could produce held value, including my writing. I tried everything I could to cope. I worked out incessantly, spent time in nature, went to therapy, went to church, and so on. But as long as I maintained the belief that I was worthless, no amount of positive thinking or behavior modification could liberate me from the grips of depression.

I had to challenge that core belief.

Doing this wasn’t easy and I couldn’t do it alone. I had to recognize a principle that Covey writes about in Part 1 of his book: that “as clearly and objectively as we think we see things,…others see them differently from their own apparently equally clear and objective point of view” (28). For me, this meant I needed to listen to my family and friends, who were desperately trying to convince me of my worth.

On a fundamental level, I struggled to agree with them at first. I didn’t tell myself that they were lying; I just believed that they were wrong. Eventually, I realized that to make progress, I had to not only start entertaining their points of view, but I had to start sharing them. Seeing myself the way they saw me was the only way I was going to challenge my distorted beliefs.

Once I started to do this, I developed more confidence in myself and in my work. And so, my challenge to you today is to start examining your personal paradigm. What do you believe about yourself? If it is not so positive, how can shift it to align with the beliefs of your most adoring friend of family member?

I’ve just started reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and I already know it’s a good one, so I’m recommending it early. As a reminder, I receive coffee money when you make purchases through links I’ve posted on this site, but I promise to only recommend books I love or find useful.

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