Don’t think about that elephant in the room.

Whatever you do, do not think about the elephant.

Just ignore it. Maybe it will go away.

Of course, when you are told NOT to think about something, that is about the only thing you can think of.

Even though there is no actually elephant in the same room with you, you were thinking about an elephant, weren’t you? Even if your thought was, “What in heaven’s name is this woman yammering about? There’s no elephant here,” you were still thinking about an elephant (the one that wasn’t there).

So, what is this elephant I’m telling you not to think about?

It is all the negative scripts you’ve picked up throughout your life. Okay. I know that I’ve been telling you to forget those old scripts, to break the hold they have on your subconscious mind. But now I want to you think about them, so I’m telling you not to think about them. Clever, huh?

The reason I want you to think about them is because I want you to understand the truth about them.

It has been proven that much of our character is set by the time we are six years old. From infancy on, most of us have been given many negative suggestions. The problem is, when we are young, we don’t have the deductive faculties to know what is true and what is not true. If someone we trust or someone who we acknowledge to have power over us, tells us something we unconsciously accept what they tell us as true.

For example: “Oh, you’re a silly little boy (or girl).” “You’re just a little troublemaker.” “You’re always into things!”

When we are very young, such things may be said to us in a jollying tone, that tone that we all use when we’re talking to babies. You’ve done it. I’ve done. Your parents did it to you. We don’t mean any harm by it and, probably, your parents didn’t mean any harm either.

But those phrases lodge in our immature brains and are stored in our subconscious until we can make sense of them.

Eventually, we learn what the words mean and we remember that Mommy or Daddy once told us that we were silly (for instance) and we think “Mommy (or Daddy, or someone I trust) keeps telling me that I am pointlessly, often laughably, foolish so it must be true. No wonder I can never do anything right.”

(I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be a lot more careful about how I talk to my 18-month-old grandson.)

As we grow older, the messages become even more damaging and limiting. “You can’t.” “You’ll never amount to anything.” “You mustn’t.” “You’ll fail.” “You haven’t got a chance.” “You’re all wrong.”

Folks, this is not the way to instill self-confidence.

Some of these scripts are not even verbal – or are not addressed to us directly. We see the way our parents respond to the challenges of life or hear how they talk about the things going on around us and we get these messages:

“It’s no use.” “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” “The world is going to the dogs.” “What’s the use, nobody cares.” “It’s no use trying.” “Things are getting worse and worse.” “Life is an endless grind.” “You just can’t win.” “You can’t trust a soul,” etc.

Unfortunately, these impressions made on you in the past can cause behavior patterns that cause failure in your personal and social life now. That’s why you can’t just dismiss them and think that they will go away. Like that elephant, they’re there and you just can’t help replaying them over and over.

Here’s something else for you to think about: If you look back over your life, you can recall how parents, friends, relatives, teachers, and associates contributed to a campaign of negative suggestions.

Think about that elephant; take a look at the things said to you when you were a baby, a child, a teenager.

You will discover much of it was in the form of propaganda. The purpose of much of what was said was to control you or instill fear into you.

“They” may not have intended for you to take their comments so much to heart. “They” may have had the best of intentions. “They” may have wanted to protect you from the harsh realities of life or to keep you from making the same mistakes they made.

But some of “them” may have actually wanted to make sure that you didn’t succeed because they didn’t succeed and if your life turned out more successfully than theirs, they would feel even more like failures.

Some of “them” may have been manipulating you, intentionally keeping you off-balance so that you would depend upon them or so that they could control you.

Now that you’re not a kid anymore, you do not have to be influenced by these destructive, negative suggestions, well-intended or not.

You have to be aware of them so that you can counteract them with positive auto-suggestions that reflect the reality that you are creating for yourself.

But you don’t have to be controlled by them any longer. You can be free!

Author's Bio: 

I am a Baby Boomer who is reinventing herself and an internet entrepreneur focusing on self-help for the Baby Boomer generation. I spent sixteen years serving as pastor in United Methodist congregations all over Kansas. Those congregations were made up primarily of Baby Boomer or older members, so I developed some expertise with the Baby Boomer generation. I am now on leave of absence and living in Atchison, Ks. with my thirty year old son and my cat. I also help my daughter, also living in Atchison, with three sons, ages 8, 6, and 18 mos, while their father is in Afghanistan. My website is found at