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Wayne Dyer: Your Erroneous Zones Book Summary

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  • The whole theory of the universe is directed unerringly to one single individual – namely you. (Walt Whitman)
  • Chapter 1: Taking Charge of Yourself
  • The essence of greatness is the ability to choose personal fulfilment in circumstances where others choose madness.
  • A truer barometer of intelligence is an effective, happy life lived each day and each present moment of every day.
  • Your thoughts are your own, uniquely yours to keep, change, share, or contemplate. No one else can get inside your head and have your own thoughts as you experience them. You do indeed control your thoughts, and your brain is your own to use as you so determine.
  • You cannot have a feeling (emotion) without first having experienced a thought. Take away your brain and your ability to ‘feel’ is wiped out. A feeling is a physical reaction to a thought.
  • Your conclusion is also inescapable. If you control your thoughts, and your feelings come from your thoughts, then you are capable of controlling your own feelings. And you control your feelings by working on the thoughts that preceded them. Simply put, you believe that things or people make you unhappy, but this is not accurate. You make yourself unhappy because of the thoughts that you have about the people or things in your life. Becoming a free and healthy person involves learning to think differently. Once you can change your thoughts, your new feelings will begin to emerge, and you will have taken the first step on the road to your personal freedom.
  • Happiness is a natural condition of being a person. The evidence is plainly visible when you look at young children. What is tough is unlearning all of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘oughts’ that you’ve digested in the past. Taking charge of yourself begins with awareness.
  • You get unhappy, angry, hurt and frustrated automatically because you learned to think that way a long time ago.
  • A thought becomes a belief when you’ve worked on it reportedly, not when you simply try it once and use your initial inability as the rationale for giving up.
  • Just as you are free to choose happiness over unhappiness, so in the myriad events of everyday life you are free to choose self-fulfilling behaviour over self-defeating behaviour.
  • Now is all there is, and the future is just another present moment to live when it arrives. One thing is certain; you cannot live it until it does appear.
  • Avoiding the present moment is almost a disease in our culture, and we are continually being conditioned to sacrifice the present for the future.
  • Seize the present moment as the only one you have. And remember, wishing, hoping and regretting are the most common and dangerous tactics for evading the present.
  • Frequently avoidance of the present leads to idealization of the future.
  • The right time is any time that once is still so lucky as to have…Live!
  • As you look back on your life, much the way Tolstoy’s Ivan Ilych did, you’ll find that you seldom experience regret for anything that you’ve done. It is what you haven’t done that will torment you. The message, therefore, is clear. Do it.
  • The only evidence of life is growth.
  • People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, make them. (George Bernard Shaw)
  • Changing the way you think, or feel, or live is possible but never easy.
  • In order to master this kind of fulfilment, you’ll need to repeat endlessly that your mind really is your own and that you are capable of controlling your own feelings.

 

  • Chapter 2: First Love
  • Self-worth cannot be verified by others. You are worthy because you say it is so. If you depend on others for your value it is other-worth.
  • Love is a word that has as many definitions as there are people to define it. Try this one on for size. The ability and willingness to allow those that you care for to be what they choose for themselves, without any insistence that they satisfy you.
  • Aptitude is the amount of time required by the learner to attain mastery of a learning task. Implicit in this formulation is the assumption that, given enough time, all students can conceivably attain mastery of a learning task. (John Carroll)
  • Self-love means accepting yourself as a worthy person because you choose to do so. Acceptance also means an absence of complaint.
  • Independent thinking is not only unconventional, it is the enemy of the very institutions that constitute the bulwark of our society.
  • Chapter 3: You Don’t Need Their Approval
  • Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you. And though they are with you yet they belong not to you. (Khalil Gibran)
  • A careful look at Jesus Christ will reveal an extremely, self-actualized person, an individual who preaches self-reliance, and was not afraid to incur disapproval.
  • They recognize that people are infected with the need for acceptance.
  • Habit is habit, and not to flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time. (Mark Twain)
  • Happiness is an absence of approval-seeking.

 

  • Chapter 4: Breaking Free from the Past
  • You are what you choose today, not what you’ve chosen before.
  • Once you label me, you negate me. (Soren Kierkegaard)
  • All self-labels come out of an individual’s history. But the past, as Carl Sandburg said in Prairie, ‘is a bucket of ashes.’
  • All self-defeating ‘I’ms’ are the result of the use of these four neurotic sentences 1) That’s me 2) I’ve always been that way 3) I can’t help it 4) That’s my nature.

 

  • Chapter 5: The Useless Emotions – Guilt and Worry
  • Throughout life, the two most futile emotions are guilt for what has been done and worry about what might be done. There they are! The great wastes – Worry and Guilt – Guilt and Worry.
  • It isn’t the experience of today that drives men mad. It is the remorse for something that happened yesterday, and the dread of what tomorrow may disclose.
  • Guilt is not a natural behaviour. It is a learned emotional response that can only be used if the victim teaches the exploiter that he is vulnerable.
  • The best antidote to worry is action.

 

  • Chapter 6: Exploring the Unknown
  • Only the insecure strive for security.
  • Early training in our society tends to encourage caution at the expense of curiosity, safety at the expense of adventure.
  • Failure is simply someone else’s opinion of how a certain act should have been completed.
  • I have revised some folk wisdom lately; one of my edited proverbs is Nothing fails like success because you do not learn anything from it. The only thing we ever learn from is failure. Success only confirms our superstitions. (Kenneth Boulding)
  • Think of it. Without failure we can learn nothing, and yet we have learned to treasure success as the only acceptable standard. We tend to shun all experiences which might bring about failure. Apprehension of failure is a big part of fear of the unknown. Anything which doesn’t smack of guaranteed success is to be avoided. And fearing failure means fearing both the unknown and the disapproval that accompanies not doing your best.
  • The unknown is where growth resides. Both for civilization and for the individual.
  • Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by. And that has made all the difference. (Robert Frost)

 

  • Chapter 7: Breaking the Barrier of Convention
  • Thus, you have one-fourth of the people taking responsibility for their own feelings, and three-fourths bestowing blame on external sources.
  • Instead of recognizing that she had chosen to overeat in the past and she would have to learn to make new choices if she wanted to lose weight.
  • Recognize that her unhappiness and her complaints were the result of her own choices, not the action of others.
  • You can never find self-fulfilment if you persist in permitting yourself to be controlled by external forces or persist in thinking that you are controlled by external forces.
  • Blame is a neat little device that you can use whenever you don’t want to take responsibility for something in your life. It is the refuge of the externally oriented person.
  • The only thing blame does is keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. But blame itself is an act of folly.
  • Taking credit as well as responsibility for yourself is the first step to eliminating this erroneous zone.
  • People are different and they see things from different perspectives. If one must be right, then a breakdown in communication is the only predictable outcome.
  • The shoulds always produce a feeling of strain, which is all the greater the more a person tried to actualize his shoulds in his behaviour…Furthermore, because of externalizations, the should always contribute to disturbance in human relations in one way or another. (Karen Horney)
  • You recognize that the law is there to serve you, not to make you a servant, you can begin to eliminate the musterbation behaviour.
  • People ridiculed the Edison’s, Henry Fords, Einstein’s, and Wright Brother’s – until they were successful. You will meet with contempt, too, as you begin to resist meaningless policies.

 

  • Chapter 8: The Justice Trap
  • Fairness is an external concept – a way of avoiding the taking charge of your own life.
  • Jealousy is really a demand that someone love you in a certain way, and you saying ‘It isn’t fair’ when they don’t. It comes from a lack of self-confidence, simply because it is an other-directed activity. It allows their behaviour to be the cause of your emotional discomfort. People who really like themselves don’t choose jealousy or allow themselves to be distraught when someone else doesn’t play fair.
  • A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. (Emerson)
  • Live by acting, not by thinking about acting. (Carlos Castendada)
  • Eliminate external references of comparison. Have your own goals independent of what Tom, Dick or Harry do. Set out to be what you want, without references to what others have or don’t have.

 

  • Chapter 9: Putting and End to Procrastination – Now
  • The art of keeping up with yesterday Procrastination. (Donald Marquis)
  • Putting if off enables you to delude yourself into believing that you are something other than what you really are.
  • Make a decision to live five minutes at a time. Instead of thinking of tasks in long-range terms, think about now and try to use up a five-minute period doing what you want, refusing to put off anything that would bring about satisfaction.
  • Sit down and get started on something you’ve been postponing. Begin a letter or a book. You’ll find that much of your putting it off is unnecessary since you’ll very likely find the job enjoyable, once you give up the procrastination. Simply beginning will help you to eliminate anxiety about the whole project.

 

  • Chapter 10: Declare Your Independence
  • In any relationship in which two people become one, the end result is two half people.
  • In a successful marriage, a marriage where both partners feel genuine love, each is willing to let the other person choose for himself rather than to dominate.
  • No one has control over your feelings, except you.

 

  • Chapter 11: Farewell to Anger
  • It is impossible for you to be angry and laugh at the same time. Anger and laughter are mutually exclusive and you have the power to choose either. Laughter is the sunshine of the soul. And without sunshine nothing can live or grow.
  • Perhaps the single most outstanding characteristic of healthy people is their unhostile sense of humour.

 

  • Chapter 12: Portrait of a Person who has Eliminated All Erroneous Zones
  • Doers do. Critics blame and complain.
  • Every normal function of life holds some delight.

 

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