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Why Be an “Inverse Paranoid” When You Can Just Be a Positive Thinker?

 

Practise Positive Expectation

My take-away from “How to Get from Where You are to Where You Want to Be” by Jack Canfield.

 

Principle 6: Become an Inverse Paranoid

[or simply put, Practise Positive expectation]

 

This is the chapter I like a lot. The principle is a sanity saver, a solid bridge for you to move forward. In life, many things are designed and decided for you. They are out of your hands.

Certain events and outcomes are not within your control. Lots of things lots of people do are not aligned to your beliefs and values. Plenty can work against your aspirations. The threats and challenges present can squash your hope. If you allow them.

If you allow them. ‘If’ in this context is a small word with a huge potential. To sustain your mental wellbeing. To recharge your resolve. To offer you a path forward from a position of overwhelm.

‘If’ means you have a choice. A choice not to surrender but to salvage and solidify your position. ‘If’ means you can choose not to be clouded by the infusion of fear and uncertainty. ‘If’ means you can choose to create a path of possibility within the pressure of dissonance and discord. Just by changing perspective.

Instead of getting mired on ground level with a narrow perspective of the inevitable, take the imaginary escalator up to a level up where you are free from churn of confusion, where you can look further and wider at what’s happening to spot the path(s) out of the vortex of conflict. In simple terms, look for a positive outcome from the challenging situation. To fund this response-ability, you have to invest all your energy to enable this question, “What is the opportunity I see in this?” This challenge opens the path to practise positive expectation.

Practising positive expectation is what this principle is about, I think. Maybe there is a difference from Canfield’s idea of being an “Inverse Paranoid,” but I trust the difference is not going to shake the core-meaning of the chapter. [I am taught not to use a negative idea in trying to pursue a positive outcome, such as not to focus on what you don’t want but state what you want in writing an affirmation. Is being kind, “inverse cruel?” Is love, “inverse hate?” is success. “inverse failure?” Maybe, the author wants the ideas to stick in the mind by using a fresh term. My apologies.]

Practise Positive Expectation
Photo by Petr Ruzicka on Unsplash


I agree with Canfield’s, “…how much easier it would be to succeed in life if you were constantly expecting the world to support you and bring you opportunity.” This is positively a statement of positive expectation. I just want to qualify that “it is easier to succeed in life” if you expect the best because it is easier to work at success in life if your spirit is not weakened by FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). There must be work somewhere along the lines. If you argue that work is a given, the first sentence is exactly right.

I do not know why W. Clement Stone was called an inverse paranoid. A lot of people have used the term and attribute it to Stone’s label and Canfield’s book. It’s meaning is explained as, “Instead of believing the world was plotting to do him harm, he chose to believe the world was plotting to do him good. Instead of seeing every difficult or challenging event as negative, he saw it for what it could be-something that was meant to enrich him, empower him, or advance his causes.” This is the description of a positive thinker. A person practising positive expectation. [Maybe there is a subtle difference but is the inverse paranoid still a paranoid?]

Logical semantics aside, the word that resonates with me in the description is ‘chose.’ Viktor Frankl has crash tested the power of ‘choose’ in the concentration camp. This is a right and a freedom that cannot be taken away. It is the freedom to get away from being suffocated by circumstances that are mostly not within your control.

From late last night to the wee hour of this morning, I was listening to a Gay Hendricks, (a Stanford groomed psychologist, writer and teacher, and a close friend of Jack Canfield [showing off privileged information]) podcast about his new book on ‘consciousluck.’ He proposed that for luck to happen, one must practice positive expectation. With positive expectation, you heighten your awareness of the good things happening around you.

Napoleon Hill is quoted as saying, “Every negative event contains within it the seed of an equal or greater benefit” in his evergreen book, “Think and Grow Rich.” I like this version that has better rhythm; “In every adversity, there is a seed of an equal or greater opportunity.” The idea is to look for opportunity, not to dismiss the realness of adversity or the possibility of adversity.

The idea is to reflect; “This could happen and set me back. What are the opportunities for me to pivot and move forward?” I said “could,” but it applies to “is.” Like, “This is happening to me…” The only difference is you may have to do some fire-fighting at that stage. I read a 200+ pages book that urges you to make any year your best year. Again, this is about positive thinking and positive expectation. One advice is engraved into my heart and my mind, “Don’t let the important become urgent.”

Photo by Marcelo Rivas on Unsplash

I would like to think that positive expectation is not dangerous. I am not a guru in filling people up with go for it nuclear energy, but I am a guru in surviving comfortably in life for a long time. My vote is for positive expectation first. I would tamper it with mindfulness.

I think it is good advice not to assume the man pulling over when your car is down, a serial rapist. Just let a bit of your “human-ness” touch you. Don’t dismiss totally when your body pumps up the alertness energy. It depends on many things, like where and when you are, what has been your experience, what have you heard about you… The idea is to choose positive expectation, be courteous, be calm and collected.

I do not know why the author chooses “serial rapist” over “a robber.” It’s a good thing. It helps you prepare for the worst to hope for the best. It’s good to learn about handling different situations with the view of creating the opportunity to teach your loved ones and others.

[I want to share a success story here. I was surrounded by hoodlums in a foreign country man years ago. They wanted money. I don’t carry much money around. I showed them my wallet. Even suggested they take my cheap Japanese watch. I was calm because my intuition told me to choose total surrender. I was not fighting. From a deep reserve in my 80-pound frame, unfamiliar courage crept through my mouth. I said, “Or you can beat me up but you won’t get what you want.” Saying that, I felt relief. Being beaten there was my bigger fear, but there was thin stream of positive expectation running in me that I could get away. They were four dark hunks. I sensed they were also cooling. They stiffened up again as they tried to inject me with submission-seeking fear. Their spokesperson, probably the leader, told me to deliver 30K their currency at 11 at the same place the next day.

I did not turn up but checked into the airport early. Luck had it that I was scheduled out the same day when I was to pay the ransom.

Looking back, if I had shown disabling fear and pleaded with them, I might have been pounded by the four bullies. Instead of assuming the victim, I took the role of a negotiator. Thanks to positive expectation, I sensed hope and saw a way out. The blessing is that I lived to share the experience and have learnt to avoid such “opportunities”. I have also learned more about myself. That I do have “strategic” courage.” I value the experience of facing up fear and overcoming it. I could not have engineered this for the personal development.]

If you are let go due to downsizing, it’s a good time to dream about a dream job or review what you want to do with the rest of your life. Maybe, there is an Elon Musk in you. The key point here is not to stop looking or creating for opportunities for contribute your best skills and talents. Just remember what is not used in you will be eventually lost. Keep finding, keep sharpening the saw and keep asking for help. Your dream vocation might be just round the corner.

And if cancer pounces on you. Seek help. Learn from survivors. Create the best platform to beat it and share your success secrets. Same thing. Keep finding, keep sharpening the saw and keep asking for help. By asking for help, you might get to see the path out from others’ eyes. Just don’t give up or give in. Give yourself a shot at staring down a monster.

Jack Canfield recounted the experience of losing an interesting job. He did not stop finding, sharpening his saw or asking for help. He shared his predicament with the leader of the workshop he was attending. The leader, a vice president of the W. Clement & Jesse V. Stone Foundation, offered him a job which lead him to benefit from the mentorship of the great Clement Stone himself. Today, Canfield is an icon in the world of personal development and he is living an amazing success story. Our family owns many Chicken Soup titles. They are like magic lamps of comfort and inspiration. Just buying the books makes you feel good. [I would like to boast that I have a copy personally autographed by Mark Victor Hansen. Just to brag.]

Captain Jerry Coffee’s has a Frankl-like inspirational story. Shot down during the Vietnam War, he spent 7 years in prison and came out with powers to change the world. He is said to have become a deeply spiritual and happy family man, a successful author, and one of the most moving inspirational speakers you could ever hope to hear as a result sharing the confined space with just God. Instead of giving up and giving in to the prospect of extreme fear and boredom, he chose to focus on “How can I use this experience to my advantage?” the first time he entered his cell.

From his website, you will read that Jack Canfield has mixed and mingled with supersuccessful people. He observes, “The supersuccessful approach every experience as opportunity. They enter every conversation with the idea that something good will come from it. And they know that what they seek and expect, they will find.”

Canfield goes on to share how Mark Victor Hansen sold him the idea of a partnership for the Chicken Soup franchise, despite the first book had been half written by Canfield at that time. It worked because both saw opportunities in the joint venture. The Chicken Soup for the Soul series is one of the most successful stories in publishing. It is possible because both partners saw possibilities instead of liabilities. Great story.

The final inspirational story in this chapter has Peggy Bassett, the said popular minister of a 2000-member church as the main actor. Despite losing out to Canfield in a prominent California State project, she was able to embrace the lost as an opportunity. “God has something better in store for me,” she said when the author asked how she felt not being selected.

Every event, every happening in your lifetime yields information that will be either processed by your emotional self or the rational self. Sometimes, we chose another way, the easy lazy way. We allow the information to be processed for us. We allow the words written to sadden us, to frighten us or to project a mirage of hope. This happens when we take as truth everything you read at CNN, NYT and the other media. This disempowers you from making decisions that are truly aligned to your values. Granted, you have no means of being at the front lines at all time, I urge you to make a choice for you at all times. Make the positive choice. Condition your inner self to look beyond the adversity for the opportunities.

Whether it’s Covid or Trump, there are opportunities within. The pandemic has wrought untold sufferings and grief but it has also offer glimpses of opportunities to the world; the sudden transformation of grey skies to blue, the capability of science to shorten its time to market considerably, the exemplary resilience of the underrated health workers and the ingenuity and altruistic nature of the human race. Suffering businesses close, opportunistic ones pivot to answer the needs of the time. Bars convert to sanitizer production, garments manufacturers to PPE and restaurants to food banks.

What good can we see from the four years of unusual leadership over the most advanced, richest nation on earth? Trump shows where untrained and unrestrained leadership will take you. He reveals the truth that while most of us asks why, there is still a large tribe who will allow information to be processed for them. Trump also shows us what the uninhibited can do, the damage power can cause. [Much as I think the Capitol episode is tragic, I am glad that an unimaginable tragedy is being avoided. I sighed a big sigh of relief when I read that Nancy Pelosi had the presence of mind to buttonhole the US Military Chief of Staff on the accountability for the nuclear war launching button. Two thumbs up for Nancy Pelosi.] I am sure that a big positive from the Trump years will be debates and legislations to leash a Presidency gone wrong.

Practise Positive Expectation
Photo by Space-X on Unsplash


Principle 6: Become an Inverse Paranoid: Summary

 

Look for opportunity in every adversity, and better opportunity in every opportunity.

Exercise your choice to be positive.

Practise positive expectation to raise your game.

 

You always have a choice, even if someone bigger says you don’t. The power of choice is inside you. Like the knowledge you have gathered, no one can steal it or take it away. Choose You. Choose possibility.

You can also choose to share this site with your friend if you like what you’re reading. Thanks.

 

 

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