Empowered people, i.e. those with a sense of assurance, enthusiasm and well being, accept that they cannot change the past. They know that they make their future by what they do today. They refuse to create worries and fears for the future; they have a zest for life. Most importantly they are not selfish, but know it is important to touch the lives of others each day with a smile and a helping hand; and they have an ‘attitude of gratitude’ for just being alive.

Some of the most empowered people are those who suffer from terminal illness; they cherish each day and live life to the full, aware of their limited time. Their bravery so often has a positive effect on those around them, teaching them to make good use of each day.

Empowered people recognise that the past and the future are memories and thoughts and today is their reality. By living today well they do the most within their power to make tomorrow better.


Mark Twain once said, “I have been through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened”. The wisdom of these words speaks well, for reality lies within your words and actions each day.

The past is a map of the direction you have taken so far in life; a guide to making better choices for the future through the hindsight of your experiences. Those experiences teach you how to make the present and future a better and more fulfilling place through recognition of past mistakes.

Memories are a snapshot of your past that colour your perception of reality today. You evaluate your world through your memories and the experiences you have had. Sometimes memories can be diluted and warped in the mind, so they are not always an accurate representation of the past.

The past cannot be changed, so it is futile to waste energy on regrets or things said or done by yourself or others in years gone by. Don’t hold a grudge or resentment or fret over past mistakes. Such negative thoughts can literally make you ill and make it difficult for you to make a positive investment in your life today. A doctor once said, “Depressive thoughts, habitually held, increase the possibility of infection by at least tenfold”. Use the past only to learn from your mistakes and keep it in context with your life now. What happened in the past is over and if you want your life to be empowered, you must let go of the past and allow it to be just a fading memory.


A very well-known quotation from Albert Einstein reads, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

If you want to achieve success and live the life you want to live, then living in the present – the NOW – is very important to you. Why? The past is behind you and the future does not yet exist. That is not to say that you should entirely forget the past but see it in relation to where you stand today, now. The only place that is completely in your control is the present but for many people, the present day is the least important day in their lives as their thoughts race on ahead to the future, often counting down the days to a special event, perhaps four days hence. Unfortunately, those four precious days are lost forever as you work on auto-pilot.

Now is all any of us have, it is all we will ever have. Now we can discern and analyse the past and how it affects us today and in our future; it is when we reap either the consequences or the rewards of our past choices. Today is the only day we can be creative and either go ahead and stay with our previous choices, or change those choices in light of the past. Now is when you need to be at your best so that you can create whatever future you want. Your creative mechanism cannot function or work tomorrow. It can only function in the present – now. Make long range plans for tomorrow but don’t try to live in tomorrow, or in the past. Creative living can only be successful if you have your full attention in today.

Be very clear about what you want to do with your life. See with crystal clear clarity what you want to achieve and believe you will achieve it with all your heart – “What the heart can conceive and believe the heart can achieve”. It starts at the ideas phase, you then nurture it, develop it, feel it as if it is happening “NOW” and live and breathe it until it becomes your reality. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift; that is why it is called the present!

Walk through the valley of the present Dwell not on the dust of the past Fear not the road to the future For this moment might be your last.


An example of a crisis in your life could well be that you have lost your whole life’s earnings because your business failed. This can happen over a period of time or it can happen suddenly. The reasons can be myriad. Part of it may have been caused by mistakes you made and part may have been circumstances beyond your control.

Perhaps you had a retail store on the street and a large mall opened up a block away. What had been a busy thoroughfare now became deserted with little passing traffic.

What can you do? As we have discussed earlier, you have the choice of two paths before you. One path looks easy, it is wide and you can see that many people have travelled the path before you. The other path is not so wide and looks a little difficult to travel.

Yes, believe me, it is much easier to give up and feel sorry for yourself; take yourself to your bed and face the wall wallowing in self-pity. That is the path travelled by a large number of people because emotion takes over the thought process. Some people get angry and want to lash out at those around them, blaming everyone but themselves. Others see only the loss of money and homes and just want to give up and curl into a small ball, hoping it will all go away.

The owner of the store could blame others but, perhaps, that person made a mistake by not keeping an eye on what was going on in the community He could have done so by keeping in touch with the local council and getting updates on new subdivisions and land sales which may change the dynamics of the commercial sector. Another way of keeping in touch is listening to customers and their wants and requirements. The new mall would then not have been such a shock and the store owner could have sold or made changes which would have kept trade going. The crisis has arisen, however, and the owner with the right attitude will take responsibility for what has happened. That way he can put the failure behind him and set about turning that failure into a new success.

This is the time when you find out what strengths you really have deep down in your spirit. It is what you do in the hard times in your life that will determine what kind of person will come out at the other end of trouble. It is the time to find out what you are concentrating on; the loss of the business or working out a solution to minimise the impact. Perhaps you could see it as an opportunity for a different direction in business. Basically, it is important for you to realise you will be fine and though you are going through a stressful period as you adapt to new situations and circumstances, a better life can be just around the corner.

Now is the time to make your choice and choose the right attitude. Are you going to say, “Why me? It is the end of the world”, make your life, and the lives of everyone around you miserable and make yourself ill and depressed; or will you take the other path and keep your sanity?

The path to take is the one that acknowledges that you have a financial loss, which may have been out of your control and begin thinking strategically about working out a solution for yourself. Believe in yourself and you will be able to start from scratch again. If you are feeling very alone, enlist the help of family and friends who believe in you and what you can achieve. Their advice may be valuable and help to keep your focus on the right track. Keep away from those who would criticise you and try to pull you down.

Think differently, say “So what” and use your mind in your favour by analysing where mistakes were made. Tell yourself you will not make the same mistakes again and use your mind to improve your existing situation. You could begin by taking a job and keeping yourself busy by making an effort to build up your finances again. Think, not only about how you can recover your loss, but also how you can profit from it.

Remain optimistic and determined and always keep your mind attuned to further possibilities in business – there are always opportunities if your mental antennae are up and searching and there are always people who are prepared to help you if you are prepared to help yourself. You will see nothing if you remain gloomy.

If you can accept what has happened and yet conceive in your mind that you are capable of achieving an outcome better than what you had before you will create a pattern for success. You can go from failure to success by approaching your challenge in a constructive fashion, focusing on the solution rather than being blinded by the problem.

Each time you overcome difficulties you build your self-esteem and as self-confidence grows you will find it easier to master new challenges.

Engagement on a Daily Basis

What is engagement on a daily basis? It is the intensity of your relationship with what you are doing, each and every day and the ability to get yourself to take action regardless of your emotional state. Do you wish to succeed in life? You must understand, then, that success is the result of deliberate thought and action. You must have a goal in mind then act and put your thoughts to work so you will continuously move forward toward your goal. To do this you must engage on a daily basis; that means to involve yourself, enter into and undertake every day to continue your unique journey of discovery. You will experience ups and downs, obstacles and setbacks, laughter and tears and sometimes changes in direction. Right thinking, i.e. conscious decision-making, resourcefulness, determination and persistence will minimise the impact of the difficulties you encounter and virtually guarantee the strength to overcome every disaster that is thrown at you.

To engage on a daily basis can be difficult but it is powerful because it takes strength of character to carry it out. It means you must exercise integrity which in turn means taking control of your life and being ethical in all your affairs. It is very difficult to build trust in your personal and professional life if you do not act responsibly and do your best in any given situation.

Remember that, although being responsible and having an enthusiastic and affirmative attitude can influence your environment, it does not mean that you will not have bad experiences and your share of disappointments. Even the best planning cannot predict every obstacle but if you are engaged on a daily basis you will find ways around the problems that arise. When an obstacle presents itself, begin to work on a solution immediately. Delay causes difficulties to grow.

Many obstacles are mistakes we have made ourselves. Anyone can make a mistake but if you learn from them you can convert those mistakes into unexpected benefits. The first step to a solution is to be honest with yourself and admit that a mistake has been made and that it exists. If mistakes are not corrected they multiply and grow worse, so find out the cause and eliminate it.

There will be many of these valleys in the life of all of us – no-one is immune to them – but if you are able to learn to control your thoughts and build a balanced attitude to life you will manage the troublesome times and they will make you happier, stronger, more mature and ready to enjoy life.

Do You Think You Can or Do You Think You Can’t?

There is an old saying, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” If you see every challenge as a dead-end street you have a negative, pessimistic attitude which is self-indulgent and unwilling to see that life doesn’t stop with every problem. If however, you see challenges as a learning curve and determine to come out the other side successfully, your attitude will lead to confidence and assurance and a mindset which says, “So what! I won’t let this beat me, the best is achievable and I can win.” The first attitude is one that will bring defeat and unhappiness, the second is an attitude that brings happiness and achievement because it builds self-confidence in knowing you are an over-comer. When you are aware of these attitudes you will understand how your thoughts and emotions affect your realities.

Difficult Relationships

You have been enjoying your endeavours and working well enough for your boss to be pleased with you. As a result you are enjoying some success with a rising profile in the office. Unfortunately, you find out that a workmate who was previously friendly with you is sabotaging you by speaking about you behind your back and making you look bad. It seems that person is jealous and is trying to make herself look better by making you look bad. As a result you are now the target of resentment from some of your colleagues and your professional credibility in being undermined.

All the gossip behind your back is making it very difficult for you to do your job unhindered but worse than that is the knowledge that you are being unfairly targeted and that what is being said is nothing but lies. It makes your days in the office untenable and your stress levels have gone through the roof. You are not sleeping and so every day you lack energy and you continually feel ill about going to work because of your anxiety. Like most targets your confidence has suffered and you are having panic attacks. You also catch yourself being irritable with work colleagues and you are finding it hard to concentrate. As a result your work commitment has suffered and you are no longer enjoying life. Something has to be done, but what?

You have a choice. You can give in to your feelings, remain on your guard each day and become an emotional wreck which may lead to you having to find another job or you can confront the situation and react in a positive way to your workmates. You should not allow antagonistic and jealous workmates to bring you down and keep you from enjoying your job. More especially, you cannot afford to allow them to jeopardise your opportunities for advancement. However, it won’t help your credibility if you become angry and demand loudly to know of everyone in the office what is going on behind your back.

If you choose the former option your stress levels will make it impossible to enjoy your job and, indeed, to carry out that job at an optimal level. Not only that, but when you allow stress to take hold it will also have an effect in your personal life, affecting your relationship with family and friends outside the office environment. Stress, at the very least can be unwelcome and unhelpful and at its worst it can be quite debilitating because of its demand upon the capacities of both your mind and your body. It is well to remember that it isn’t so much the events that determine whether you are stressed or not, it is your reaction to those events.

Thus, you have within you the capacity to decide whether you will allow stress to win or whether you can use stress to your advantage. You can use it to your advantage by choosing an attitude of “So what! – These misunderstandings have arisen so what can I do about them to bring about a good result?” Remember that your thoughts and feelings have a direct impact on your results. It will be necessary to be optimistic in the face of your difficulties and shift your perspective by changing your internal mindset so that you can come through the difficult situation. By maintaining in yourself and directing your thoughts toward a good result, you will be able to find a solution to allow better relations between you and your workmates.

Once you have your mind right, it is time to take action. Learning how to deal with difficult workmates can be very tough. You may not like confrontation and try to avoid it but it is necessary that the situation is addressed and dealt with effectively. Once you resolve the problem you will feel so much better about yourself and your work environment because you may be able to find common ground towards a positive working relationship. When it is all over you will be able to get your career back on track and you will have grown on both a professional and personal level.

At this point it is a good to take some practical steps to deal with the situation. First of all you could sit down and write out all the positive attributes of your co-worker. You will need to be objective in your appraisal and include what value you think your workmate brings to the company. Then write down how this person affects you and your job in a negative fashion. Again, try to be objective. Next, write down a list of possible scenarios about how you could and should handle the situation.

Now write down how you are interacting with this person and, perhaps, when the backbiting actions began to take place. Did anything happen to give the person a reason to begin gossiping about you? Perhaps she thought you were getting too popular with management? Remember there are always two sides to these matters and there may have been unhelpful reactions from you to her. This situation has obviously negatively affected the workplace, so be honest with yourself and look for a way to objectively solve the situation.

Your decision now is about whether you need to discuss the situation with your manager or whether you will be able to speak directly with the person involved. Managers are busy people and don’t like being drawn into staff disagreements unless absolutely necessary. If possible, therefore, you should be able to discuss the matter with the person directly and the best way to do this is to speak to her calmly and in private. It is important that you are composed and unemotional. The conversation could be as follows:
• Share with her the positive qualities you feel she possesses and show appreciation for them.
• If you are sure she is the initiator of the gossip and rumours you can explain to her that you have heard that she started a rumour which is untrue and hurtful.
• Mention the problems that have arisen with other co-workers because of the gossip and tell her that you would like to work through the difficulties to improve your working relationship.
• There may be valid reasons that led her to do what she did. Don’t take exception to what is said and don’t get down to her level if she is rude.
• Keep the conversation about the situation – never move to a personal level and don’t become emotional, just stick to the facts and be professional.
• Let her respond to what you say and listen carefully to what she has to say.


Your relationship with your adult children is troubled. One of them is not working full time and usually only comes to you when he wants money. He drinks too much and you think he may be dabbling in the drug scene. You have tried to help him in various ways but he is unpredictable and generally irresponsible. He often becomes angry with you because you have found it necessary to refuse to give him money when he asks. You know it will be spent on the wrong things so you have told him he needs to stand on his own two feet now and earn his own money. His brother is altogether different; he has a job and takes responsibility for his life. However, because you have stopped helping the wayward son his brother feels you have done the wrong thing and thinks you are cruel. This, therefore, has caused difficulty in your relationship with both sons. You still love them but their actions make the relationship very difficult.

Where did it all start? You tried to rear your children to be independent and well adjusted by instilling in them values to live by; so what went wrong?

Some children are born with a difficult temperament. I remember a family who lived opposite us. The young parents had 3 children. The 2 eldest boys, about 12 and 9 years old, were exemplary children always well-behaved. Then the parents had a third boy who was a very active child. From the time he was born they had problems and as he grew into a toddler, he became naughty and more and more difficult to handle. He loved to irritate his older brothers by hiding their clothes and their schoolwork. As he grew older he would get up in the middle of the night and steal food from the kitchen. He had to be watched carefully as he often tried to run away. That boy would have grown up by now and I don’t know whether he ever outgrew his bad behaviour. Certainly he came from a good home, full of love and care for each other and all the children. What I have said is merely an illustration that some children seem to come into this world with aggressive tendencies that are difficult to control.

Other children may start their lives with promise and deteriorate because of problems in the household or difficult behaviour may begin after a particularly debilitating illness. Some children may be autistic or demonstrate a disorder such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). There are those children who have been given every advantage in life from a very loving household and yet they opt out of school and later seem to opt out of life and particularly out of the lives of those who loved them. The latter may be what has happened to you.

The reality of life is that things often do not work out the way you may want them to. “So what”, what can you do? Do you give up on them both and walk away to live your own life? Do you try to come to an understanding with the “good” brother and forget the one who has gone off the rails? Or do you keep trying with both of them? There is no magic “right way” to act but giving up on another human being, particularly your own flesh and blood, does not seem the way to go.

The choice is yours. It would seem to be easy way out to walk away from a difficult situation but when that situation concerns family, it becomes very complex. There is always a bond between a parent and son, however hard one may try to break it. A strong and positive relationship, however, needs both parties to contribute to that relationship to make it work. So you may be in a quandary about what to do. If you allow the whole situation to play on your mind you can become upset and depressed and make things worse. If you allow your emotions and thoughts to run rampant you may walk away and never see either son again. That is a worst case scenario. There is a better choice – that, without interfering in their lives, you keep on doing all that you can to draw both sons back into the fold as responsible and loving adults.

A lot of adult children are the way they are today because behavioural problems were never addressed as children. It may also be necessary for you to look long and hard at your parenting skills and any problems that may have arisen during the years of raising your children. It is obvious that no parent is perfect, but, if you honestly look back over those years, there may be a time or times where one particular child ‘went over the edge’ and was unable to handle some emotional areas in his life. There may be a combination of factors such as genetics, the environment or some particular experience that happened that had a deep impact on a young mind. Only do these exercises with the attitude that something that happened in childhood may aid you to help your sons now and build a better relationship with them. It is important that you don’t apportion blame to anyone, including yourself and certainly don’t move into the area of having feelings of guilt.

“So what” do you do? Do you stand your ground and tell one son to ‘get a life’ and pull himself together, clean himself up from drugs and get a job? And do you tell the other son that he is being unfair to you by taking sides with his brother against his parent? That would seem to be trying to win a war by meeting the other army head on. You might win some battles but there are going to be a lot of casualties along the way – and one of them may be you!

If you want to win the war it may be better to come in from the flanks. It will be a matter of using your mind to your advantage and using wisdom to work out what can be done. When family is involved, never withdraw your love from either son. That doesn’t mean being wishy-washy; it may mean hard love at times. Throwing money at the wayward son will not help but keep the door open to your home to both sons. Offer meals to him and a bed sometimes when he really needs it but don’t question too much. Allow time for him to trust you again. Once trust is re-established you may be able to help him by getting him to drug rehabilitation classes. By taking the softly, softly approach you may also regain your other son’s trust as he sees you are trying to help. It is important to have him on side by telling him you want to help his brother get back on track and you need his help. It may take time and a lot of effort and it will need both of you working together to make any impact.

In the long run, both sons are grown, emancipated men and they hold the key to their own lives. As a parent, never give up on them and always be there for them.
Perhaps those sons never got around to learning the importance of gratitude. When you have a thankful heart and you are grateful for what you have, good things happen to you. Life is peaceful, relaxed and harmonious and flows along bringing favourable opportunities. Take time to say “thank you” to parents for the years they have given you and for their teaching; thank your partner and children for their love and thank friends for being faithful. It is only a little word but it has a world of meaning.

Changing a Belief system

We were not born with our belief systems in place; they were built up from our childhood with input from our parents, our environment and our friends. Since those beliefs were put there we can change them. However, it took a long time to establish those beliefs and it may take some time to change them. How long? Well that depends on how deeply they are ingrained into your system and how much effort you are prepared to expend to make the necessary changes. If there is a belief system in your life that you know is holding you back and you are prepared to change, you can do so by taking your thoughts captive and concentrating on the new thoughts consistently. Like children, your thoughts need parameters so don’t allow them to run rampant and take charge of your life. Don’t allow yourself to serve your thoughts by allowing them to roam wherever they will. Unrestrained thoughts bring unrestrained actions so train your thoughts to obey you.

You can only think one thought at a time, so determine to keep your thoughts in the realm of constructive thinking by concentrating on your assets and focusing on your strengths. Make an effort to free your mind from distracting thoughts and restless thinking. Doubt and skepticism will try to intrude but stay aware of them and deliberately concentrate on the good that can come out of a situation.

The key is to replace contrary and pessimistic thoughts with new, positive and beneficial thoughts. Repeat silently to yourself the thoughts you want to retain and then speak them out over and over again. Thoughts on their own, however, will not make the change; actions which mirror the new thoughts must be repeated enough times to embed the new beliefs into your subconscious mind.

For example, it may be necessary for you to change your beliefs and thoughts about money. If you are ‘desperate’ to make money you may find you are pushing away the very opportunities you are looking for because you are unable to control your focus. The more emotional you are the less control you have. Your attention and focus needs to be on enjoying what you do and giving service to others rather than on the money itself. Money should be seen merely as a tool to get you where you want to go. It is important, therefore, to let go of your desperation and become emotionally detached. This will take a change in your thought life and in your attitude toward money. Change your thoughts from ‘wishing you had money’ to ‘believing you will have it’. The former attitude will keep you poor; the latter attitude will allow you to let go and become relaxed enough to be able to work toward what you want and prosperity will follow.
Be careful of the words that come out of your mouth. What you say is a good indication of your belief system and if you speak negatively such as, “I can’t do it” or “nothing ever goes right for me” then you are cementing that belief deeper into your psyche. Rather change the words to “I can do it” and “everything is going right for me” and keep it up. Whenever the wrong words come out, stop and say, “That is not right” and repeat the affirmative version several times. If you do this consistently, stay focused and confident and believe in yourself, you can throw off a restrictive belief system and win. When you change your beliefs you change your life.

Positive thinking on its own doesn’t work: It is very important to remember that, first of all, positive thinking is a mindset – a way of looking at the world around you. It is not something you do, like repeating a mantra for days or weeks and waiting for something to happen so you can get what you want. It is not a form of bargaining that says if I do this then I should get that in return; it just doesn’t work like that. Instead, it is a way of using your thoughts to help you move forward creatively rather than letting them run rampant in an unco-operative manner, making you feel discouraged and trapped. Your mindset doesn’t pretend the obstacle isn’t there and it doesn’t do the work for you but it does remain open to change and to taking action by finding a detour around the problem. So the switch that makes positive thinking work is ACTION! When you are up against an obstacle, a positive thinking mindset helps you recognise opportunities that will remove the obstacle where others merely see a brick wall – but then you must ACT on those opportunities.

That is why the “So what” system works so well. It gives you the right mindset to recognise opportunities which will bring about a forward-thinking and achievable result. Practice it many times and when a disappointment or crisis occurs you will be ready to meet it head on and come out the other side confident in your capacity to live life to the full.


What is a “So what” mindset? It is an attitude of mind which says “I will not be defeated. There is a way around this difficulty and I will find it. Things happen in life and I will deal with the problem, clean up and move on.” The “So what” mindset does not trivialise what has happened but it does understand that there is a choice; that there are a number of ways to handle everything from disappointing situations to major crises.

The first way is when people begin to feel sorry for themselves and think, “Why me? It is the end of the world” and make themselves thoroughly despondent and drown in a mire of self pity. That way spirals downwards into illness and eventually depression. They only make their life, and the lives of everyone close to them, miserable and anxious and they are actually inviting more obstacles into their lives. Those who like to live with their misery eat too much, think too much, fight with the family and become angry at the smallest slight. When these antagonistic reactions take precedence, no action can be taken and so no way out of the problem can be found. Unfortunately this type of thinking becomes a habit and forms a self-perpetuating cycle of circumstances.

There is another way which says, “I will just mark time and do nothing, hopeful that something will happen or someone will come along to help me”. That is a lazy way to approach any problem and when no action is forthcoming the results are obvious. When nothing happens, so often those people become angry and blame everyone else for their own ineptitude. Attitude is a driving force in our life and without the right attitude life becomes rambling and tortuous. Where there is no action there can be no result.

The best way is a totally different attitude of mind. There is an expectation that a solution can be found, a determination to find it and to use any difficult situation as a learning curve. That is a winning attitude. It is essential that you have enough faith in yourself that you expect to overcome any obstacle that comes across your path; expect to win at the game of life. That attitude does not come easily. It means being prepared to take responsibility for our attitudes and to become accountable if we are to create any real or lasting changes in our reality.

We are all so used to losing that we have to totally change our way of thinking if we want to have a winning mind-set. It means not allowing your thoughts to speculate on the worst that can happen but taking each thought captive and focusing on what you want to achieve. It can add up to a total renewing of your mind which includes a major change in attitude so that you have total confidence in the power and your ability to overcome problems and difficulties. The “So what” attitude says, “I believe in myself” and I will exercise my mind to improve the existing situation and find a solution to the problem.

So take hold of your dream with force, hold fast and don’t let anything take it from you. Eventually you will be able to seize it and say, “It’s mine! No one can take it from me.”