What's in your trophy case?

What’s in your trophy case? This is a very simple question on the surface; however, it requires a very in-depth reflection and great evaluation. Many of us know what a trophy case is, we have all been down the halls of our schools and have seen many accolades displayed. Not many of us have an actual trophy case in our homes but we still display our accomplishments just the same. If you were to walk in my office in my home, you would see the walls and bookshelves lined with the many accomplishments of my life thus far. Mounted on the walls are many of my military retirement plaques that are extremely large. Scattered around them are smaller versions of the achievements that I collected throughout my military career of 20 years. My bookshelves have hundreds of coins that were presented to me for a job well done. I have trophies, plaques, statues and pictures that demonstrate how brilliant my military career was. On the wall behind my computer are all my certifications and licenses that allow me to operate my business. My house is covered in wonderful family photos that paint a picture of great times. In my bedroom I have a binder that is 4 inches thick that contain all the awards and training that I collected in my military career. Everywhere you go in my home there are items that broadcast the marvelous ME! Even when I leave the house in my military uniform you can see my accomplishments by the visible high rank in the middle of my chest and the multiple badges on my upper left chest. Even my car has disable veteran license plates mounted on it. I am a walking and driving advertisement for myself. When I talk to my friends and colleagues, I always portray a wonderful accomplished man to them.

I am not telling you these things because I want to brag about myself (although we all like to do that); I am demonstrating how most human beings portray themselves. I imagine that if I go into anyone’s home, automobile or work office that I will discover many of the same demonstrations of accomplishment. We love to remember the good times and justly so. I highly doubt that any of us would display our negative times and our failures like it is a thing to celebrate. If I were to walk in your home, I don’t think that I will see a divorce decree mounted in the frame on the wall. I don’t think that I will see a certificate for coming in 6th place in a foot race. I think all the human ego can handle is a third-place ribbon or trophy. No one hangs their bad times on the wall or displays them at work for all to see. Imagine if we put those kinds of things out for all to see?! We do not want anyone to ever see that we are failures or are a mediocre achiever; the only things we want them to see is how well we have done.

I am sure you are thinking to yourself that this all makes perfect sense. We all display our good times and keep the hard times under wraps; everyone does that I am sure. But I will tell you that we all display our bad times like they are something to celebrate, like they are the most important aspect of our lives, like these failures make us an accomplished person. No, I am not a crazy person, this happens to us on a continual basis – in that mass of brain tissue that we call our mind. If we would never display those terrible things in our external world, why are we so willing and accepting to display them so vigorously in our minds? Now if I were to walk into your mind and look at what you have so proudly displayed, I imagine I would see some terrible things sitting on those shelves and mounted on those walls. I am just as guilty of displaying the wrong things in my trophy case just like the rest of us are. I have learned over the years to better recognize when my trophy case has all the great accomplishments sitting in the back-collecting dust. I takes practice because I was like most of you, I was clueless that I was stacking trophies of all my failures right in the front of the case. Why are we our worst enemy when it comes to being all we created to be? We would not dare say the things to others like we say them to ourselves. We all know that it is not good to chastise others and that we should always look for the good in them. Why are we so quick to chastise ourselves and only find the fault within? If we could only get out of our own way, our lives would be so much better. If we could go into our minds daily and rearrange our trophy case and discard all those negative displays and dust the shelves, we would accomplish such great things. Yet we continue to let our mind get filled with junk so that the great things of our life get covered up. Our minds should look like our homes, our cars and our offices. We know that we could and would not ever put these horrible things on our walls; let’s stop putting those things out in our mind. Time for some spring cleaning and continual maintenance.

This might sound like an easy task, but I am here to tell you that it takes some work. When I discovered that my trophy case was a hot mess, it took me 9 months to get it back to its glory. This is not a finished product by any means, it takes daily maintenance, rearranging and cleaning. Some of my horrible displays were mounted with some incredibly deep screws that took some real work to remove. You see, even if you think positive thoughts all day long, and leave all the negative junk laying around in your mind, you will never become who you were made to be. It was amazing to me how much junk was piled up in my brain; this was over 50 years of accumulation. We have all moved to a new house or apartment and when we move, we discover just how much junk we have collected over the years. But if we get rid of all the things that are unneeded and are just getting in the way, our new home feels so much more like a home. This is what happens within our minds, we allow all kinds of things to collect in our psyche that don’t belong, just get in the way and bog down our emotional wellbeing. Another analogy that fits this scenario is a computer. When we buy a new computer, it is fast and efficient, it has what it needs and nothing more. As we use the computer and add more and more files and programs, it begins to slow down and become less efficient. All the excess files and junk on the hard drive and in the memory, get in the way of the processing. The computer must search through a huge pile of files just to find its intended target; it originally had a clear highway but now must work through an information traffic jam.

How do we start the process of creating a new display within our minds? First let’s look at how our mind is designed. There are many different resources that divide the mind into different parts but the easiest way to envision how this works is to use the conscious and the subconscious divisions. The conscious mind is the 5% of our mental capacity that can be compared to the rudder of a boat. When we look at a water vessel, no matter how big it is, the rudder is normally the smallest part of the structure. Even though the rudder is small compared to the rest of the vessel, it oversees the direction of the boat. The real work and underlying process of moving the ship through the water is not done by the rudder. The rudder only provides the input and the rest is accomplished by a much larger part of the vessel. The conscious mind has a role that is like the rudder of a boat. The conscious mind only provides the subconscious mind with input and direction; the subconscious mind is like a private that is given orders and proceeds with the mission that the conscious mind has given it. The subconscious mind is what does the real work, just like the larger part of the boat. It is amazing how many of us believe that the small conscious part of the mind is really doing all the work. Not so, let me give you a couple of examples. I know that all of us have experienced driving somewhere and not remembering any part of the trip to our destination. Remember how difficult it was to first learn how to drive a car? We had to give great attention to every detail of using the gas pedal, the brake pedal, the mirrors, the steering wheel, the traffic around us, etc. This is because the conscious mind was having to do all these tasks, the subconscious mind had not yet been trained to perform these tasks. Imagine if we had to pay attention to all that with everything we do in our lives! We would be exhausted within an hour. Now we can back out of our driveway with a cup of coffee in our hand, a phone on our lap while adjusting the radio. We don’t even have to “think” about doing all that now. Another example is how I became an extraordinary soccer goalkeeper. When I first started playing this position 7 years ago, I was like that new driver, and had to think about every movement I made. I found it very hard to pay attention to how my body was moving and what decisions I was making. Watching me today, it is quite a different picture; now I can make a tremendous save that I don’t even remember doing. I have made some amazing saves and found myself on the ground wondering how I was able to do that. All those years of input from my conscious mind has been transferred to my subconscious mind to learn store and take over. That conscious mind is like that little tiny dog barking like it is really in charge of every facet of our lives, when it only conditions the subconscious mind that does all the work.

The conscious mind is quite the marvel to control and science will tell you that we have about 60,000 thoughts each day. I am sure that some of your 60,000 thoughts are trying to figure out how you would filter through all those thoughts to ensure only the “good” ones are making it to the subconscious. I can assure you that just being aware that you can control at least some of these thoughts will ensure that you are not just letting them run on autopilot. You really do become what you consistently and persistently think about and this is true for the rogue thoughts that just run unchecked for years. I you allow a negative thought to persist it becomes an integral part of your psyche and we become unaware that this thought is undermining our greatness. We are unaware of why we continue to have the same experiences in our lives, why we keep repeating the same mistakes or why we cannot seem to succeed in the things we chose to partake in. These deep rotted thoughts are not permanent but do take work to remove once they are buried deep. We may not even know that they are there and must do some intense detective work to uncover these thoughts to deal with them. The beautiful thing is that positive thoughts are much more powerful than negative thoughts.

This trophy case is normally displayed within our subconscious mind and the display is designed and maintained by our conscious minds. We now know that we should provide new input to the subconscious mind to create a new trophy display. This process may take some time to complete and is similar in many ways to how we lose weight. When we become overweight, it does not happen overnight, and it certainly is not corrected that fast either. Losing weight takes at least as much time as it took for the weight to accumulate. Fortunately, we can create a new trophy case at a faster speed than it was created if we are willing to put in the hard work, however, it will not happen overnight. Another wonderful fact is that our imagination is a powerful tool; our subconscious does not know the difference between our reality and what we mentally visualize. We can truly create our own destiny and achieve all that we could ever imagine. But the process is like training a muscle, the muscle only stays as conditioned as the training provides for that muscle. If you stop the positive information flow to the subconscious, then the trophy case begins to collect junk and dust again. You must continually train muscles and you need to continually and consciously train your subconscious mind. If you don’t use it you will lose it! The idea is that developing a habit of positive thinking and powerful visualization will empower your life and your future. The only true way to develop a new habit is to perform the habit enough times that it just becomes automatic and easier for you to manage. Most people start on a journey to create a new trophy case but soon get discourage because they don’t see results fast enough. That is why the self-help section in the bookstore usually has the largest collection of books. Many people look for that quick fix that just does not exist; if greatness was easy, then everyone would be great!