These are some great words from an inspiring woman – Oprah Winfrey. Oprah personifies perseverance, and learning about her story is quite empowering. So when she said, “What we dwell on is who we become” it struck a chord with me and I want to share what I believe it means – break it down to the point where others can grab something tangible from it.
I wrote an earlier article, Our Thoughts Create Our Reality and this is similar in a sense, but this quote focuses more on our attachment to the past. To ‘dwell’ is to stay in a particular moment, even long after it has passed, sometimes. As humans we were created to think consciously about moments that aren’t currently present (past and future) – it’s a gift if we use it wisely.
Too often people get caught up dwelling on past mistakes, and they find it difficult to forgive themselves. They have continuous thoughts that they may be unworthy of achievement because of their past, or the counter they believe that their past has been painful so they feel entitled to have success. Both of these are limiting thoughts, and here’s why.
In the case that we feel unworthy it’s often thoughts that are ‘made up’ that make us feel this way. They are not true in essence, but we have sculpted a perspective of the past in our minds – a negative one. Whilst the mistake was likely negative, we are unable to change the past – it is uncontrollable. Don’t think that you’re the only person that has made that mistake before because history will tell you otherwise. What’s important is that we grab the lesson from our past, as hard as it might be – it’s important that we dig deep and take accountability for what went wrong – what did we contribute to the problem that we know we can be better at in the future?
When we can start to realise this we can also begin to dwell on more positive things. We can think more often about the actual lesson we learned rather than the consequences of the mistake. We can direct our thoughts into a methodical plan that emphasises growth and improvement of the skills we once lacked.
On the other hand, when we feel that just because we have had a tough past we deserve success in the future, (whilst it’s a tough pill to swallow) it’s a limiting thought. Here’s why that’s the case, but trust me, accepting that fact is more of an opportunity than a threat.
When we feel entitled we’re not willing to work as hard as others to achieve our goals. We don’t have a mindset that’s dependent on our growth – we just want the awards and the accolades, we want instant success to make up for our past of pain. But I promise you, these things won’t relieve your pain, they will make you stagnant, they will keep you questioning why the pain won’t go even though you’ve made all this money or I’ve bought this brilliant house – it’s all in your thoughts.
You wanna know why? It’s because our fulfilment comes from knowing that we have worked hard to better ourselves, and our happiness comes from seeing ourselves grow. When we achieve our goals and then stop, what’s left to achieve, to aspire for?
We were put on this earth to make a mark – to the best of our ability not to meet a particular goal. When you reach your goals you’ve got to be hungry, hungry enough that your ambitions grow bigger. Hungry enough to realise that limitless possibilities exist – and ONLY YOU can make a mark on this world in your own unique way. We need to see that although the hard work of success is painful, the pain of knowing you had more to give and chose not too, will be more painful in the long term.
So, dwelling is not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s important that we dwell on the right things. The lessons we’ve learned and the goals and ambitions we have for the future – not the accolades or the awards. We need to dwell on sustainable things like consistency and discipline.
What we dwell on is who we become.
~ Adam, 2019
- Self-Care Is In Finding The Strength To Start Over — Thought Catalog
- Here’s To The Day You Start Living — Thought Catalog
- Burning Away Our Old-Self To Make Way For The New
- No Pressure, No Diamond – Self Empowerment
- When Negative Thoughts Resurface – Psychology Today