"Kia kaha, kia maia, kia manawanui" – "Be strong, be brave, be steadfast" and "Tama tu, tama ora, tama moe, tama mate" – "He who stands, lives, he who sleeps, dies" are examples of well known Maori proverbs that we often hear on the marae, in our learning places and in our homes. They are heard so often that we accept them as a part of us.
So what proverbs do we use to encourage ourselves?
In his book entitled 'Spiritual Depression, Its Cause and Cure', Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones says “Most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself rather than talking to yourself.”
When we listen to ourselves we often hear negative thoughts like “You stupid twit, that was a really dumb thing to do” or “See, you knew you would fail so why did you even try!” Sometimes we can become so accustomed to hearing these negative thoughts that like the Maori proverbs mentioned earlier – we have accepted them as a part of us. In certain circumstances, they automatically come to mind.
When I am mentoring leaders and working with business owners there is a common thread I have found. Successful people do not listen to negative thoughts and they talk positively to themselves – a lot. They say phrases such as “Never say die", "It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog", "Feel the fear and do it anyway", "I can sleep all I want when I die", "Success is the result of small gains I repeat each day" and "Do or do not – there is no try!” They are constantly talking to themselves positively and don’t care who is listening. Furthermore, they often do not allow people around them to speak negatively – constructively – yes – but not negatively.
So how do we start talking to ourselves positively?
Start in the morning when you are looking in the mirror and say your favorite personal proverb aloud. As you go through your day be mindful of how you talk to yourself and if you make a mistake whisper your personal proverb aloud to yourself. This may seem like a small gain, but I have found that small gains lead to big victories. There are also many wonderful Maori quotes which can be adopted as your personal proverb – here’s one of them:
“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.”
By Ngahihi o te ra Bidois
Ngahihi o t e ra is from Te Arawa and is an International Consultant and Speaker.