The power of negative thinking...
It's a self-help cliche that the way to be successful is to remind yourself how good you are, how capable that you are, that you are good enough and can accomplish what you want to.
I look at things the opposite way - I try to berate myself at any opportunity. I figure if I look at things positively, I won't have any incentive to improve. So I look for the cloud around any silver lining. I think of myself as overweight because I am - by about 2 pounds, if you take the BMI as gospel. I refer to myself as a college dropout because I decided, after taking a couple classes, to not pursue getting a second master's degree.
I try to remind myself that the only difference between successful people and myself is that they worked harder than I do, so they deserve to succeed and I don't. When I see someone rolling around the beltway in a shiny new Range Rover, I remind myself that the reason they are surrounded by wood and leather while I'm surrounded by the plastic and fabric of my 5 year old Ford is because they are smarter than me and work harder than me, and if I want to be successful like them I need to work harder. When I see an attractive woman, I remind myself that if I worked harder at being a more fit, better looking, more interesting, smarter, and wealthier person, I could date someone like her, but since I don't, I don't deserve to.
So does it work? Should I start writing my own self-help book? Probably not. It does work in the short term - I can usually guilt myself into a few extra minutes on the treadmill or into not eating that bowl of ice cream or getting out of bed early to hit up some yard sales to make some extra money by reminding myself that I need to make sacrifices and endure some temporary pain if I want to achieve my goals. But long-term, it also makes me more bitter and frustrated. In some sense, I feel like I work pretty hard - that I'm pretty good about doing my job, but don't seem to be promoted, that I work out more than most people I know, but it hasn't translated into making me any more desirable. Am I not working hard enough, or am I just doing everything wrong, or is my life just a modern Sisyphus - no matter how many times I lug the boulder uphill, am I just doomed to see it roll back down and have to push ad nausea?
And despite the Range Rover lust, what I really want in life should be more achievable - love, marriage, kids, ect - but it seems to be out of reach, and no matter what I do, I can't seem to figure out what I need to do - what I need to spend more time on, what steps I need to cross off my to-do list - to achieve it.
Or maybe I'm just too fat and stupid to, and I need to get off the internet and get back on the treadmill.