I’ve quoted As a Man Thinketh before on this blog in the post As a Woman Thinketh. And I’ve referred to this “secret” of success in other posts, like Let Me Tell You a Secret. This post explores the statement from the end of James Allen’s essay, entitled “As a Man Thinketh”: “Self-control is Strength.”
As a man thinketh, so is he…
Our thoughts create our reality.
We control our thoughts.
As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he…
Our emotions create our reality.
We control our emotions.
Self-control is strength…
We must learn to exercise complete control over our thoughts and emotions.
That strength of will is the key to serenity.
The Principle in Real Life—An Example
I have studied these principles for many years. Intellectually, I can teach them. But, like many people, I find successfully practicing them far more difficult. A while ago, I experienced a minor challenge to my mental serenity, which taught me that I definitely still have to work at controlling my thoughts and emotions.
Here’s What Happened
I had a negative encounter with a former colleague whom I felt demonstrated a lack of self-control, integrity, and emotional maturity that disturbed me greatly. I felt betrayed and undermined. The experience rattled me quite deeply.
Here’s How I Reacted
Over the course of days and, indeed, weeks, I fixated on the negative emotions, allowing them to play over in my mind obsessively. In fact, you could say I wanted to ‘paint it black’ for several weeks after—and to yell at the top of my lungs #TIMESUP.
But, what do negative emotions bring? Negative realities. I finally felt so miserable that I couldn’t focus or function effectively. Something had to give.
Here’s How I Finally Responded
I finally realized I needed to take control of my thoughts and the situation.
I choose to actively practice:
- Self-Control. I quieted my ego. Despite recognizing that my ire was justified, I stopped allowing myself to indulge in the indignation. I forced my mind to stop ‘going there’—literally telling my ego to shut up when it attempted to stir up my anger yet again. I let go of the story.
- Forgiveness. I endeavored to see the situation from his perspective and forgave him for his misjudgment. More importantly, I forgave myself for ‘not seeing it coming’. I let go of the guilt.
- Action. I officially severed my business relationship with him permanently. I felt a great sense of relief once I gave myself permission to sacrifice the potential income I could have earned from him in favour of my own integrity and well-being. I reinforced my boundaries.
- Gratitude. I appreciated how privileged I was to be in a position to simply sever my business relationship with him, knowing that many women encounter these situations in jobs that they cannot afford to quit. I realized that this minor negative encounter empowered me to better empathize with other women who experienced similar, often far more scarring encounters—perhaps even equipping me to help my own daughters some day to avoid such encounters entirely. Finally, I acknowledged and felt gratitude for my own integrity, grace, and strength of will. I reclaimed my power.
- Perspective: I raised my awareness and saw the situation from a higher spiritual perspective. Working for him in exchange for a little money had wasted my time—time that I now dedicate to writing. What clearer message could I have received from the universe to stop misusing my time to help him accomplish his goals and move on to bigger, better endeavours—accomplishing my own goals. I saw the light.
James Allen’s As a Man Thinketh was published in Britain in 1903. The title of the essay refers to the verse from the Biblical book of Proverbs 23:7: “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he“.
The essay offers the key to success and happiness: “A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.” (Or: “A woman is literally what she thinks, her character being the complete sum of all her thoughts.”)
The book ends with these words, which have formed the inspiration for this series of 4 posts:
Say unto your heart, “Peace, be still!”
The last section from the final chapter of As a Man Thinketh by James Allen (converted to the feminine):
Tempest-tossed souls, wherever ye may be, under whatsoever conditions ye may live, know this:
In the ocean of life, the isles of Blessedness are smiling, and the sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming.
Keep your hand firmly upon the helm of thought. In the barque of your soul reclines the commanding Mistress; She does but sleep; awaken her.
Self-control is Strength.
Right-thought is Mastery.
Calmness is Power.
Say unto your heart, “Peace, be still!”
Barque: A sailing ship with 3 or more masts.