Sometimes, the only thing holding us back from achieving our full potential is ourselves. Overcoming our self-imposed limits is a much more difficult challenge than dealing with the external because it comes from within us. On today’s show, Rodney Flowers sits down to chat with author and photographer Peter Alessandria. Peter walks us through his own journey of overcoming and shares how he successfully pursued his passion and transitioned from being a lawyer to a photographer. Then, he breaks down his book, Be Bigger Than You Think You Are!: Overcoming Our Self-Imposed Limits To Have The Life We Want, and shares strategies and methods on how to overcome them. The key is really to believe in yourself. If you’re seeking insight to help you take that next step to achieve the life you want, this is the episode for you.
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Peter Alessandria On Overcoming Our Self-Imposed Limits To Drive Success
I am excited about the show. I want you to know that you are bigger than you think you are. I have a special guest here who is going to back me up on that. His name is Peter Alessandria and he is the author of Be Bigger Than You Think You Are!: Overcoming Our Self-Imposed Limits To Have The Life We Want. For all of you out there that think you don’t have anything within that’s holding you back or preventing you from being your best selves, then you want to read up because not only are we going to show you what they are potentially, we’re going to show you how you can overcome them. Peter’s going to share his personal story on how he was able to overcome and get where he is now. Without further ado, Peter, welcome to the show.
Thank you, Rodney. It’s great to be here.
Thank you for being here. I like the title of your book, Be Bigger Than You Think You Are! I would like to know what initiated that thought process. What caused you to want to write that book?
I have to say it started pretty unexpectedly for me. I decided in 2009 that I was going to do something more fun and creative with my life, which meant becoming a professional photographer. I bumped into it. It was very difficult for me to get my business going and I was bumping up against what I first thought was something outside of me.
At first, I thought the economy was the problem because 2009 was right after the global financial crisis, then I thought it must be all the competition from all the other photographers. At one point I even thought it was because I didn’t have the latest and greatest camera equipment, but it turned out the problem wasn’t out there. The problem was in here. Once I told the truth about it and looked closely, I found that I had a negative self-image when it came to being a creative person. I was afraid of criticism, rejection, and putting myself out there as a photographer.
What was driving those fears?
It turns out I had a lot of baggage. I had a lot of limiting thoughts and beliefs about myself that I didn’t even know were there. I had a lot of self-doubts, fear of criticism, and fear of rejection. I certainly lacked what you would call resiliency when it came to putting myself out there and not getting the response that I was hoping for or expecting. A lot of that self-criticism, self-doubt and fear of rejection were conspiring to keep my life very small.
That’s something that we all deal with in one way or another. There are different levels to that. For some of us, it started at a young age. We live through some limiting beliefs. Someone told us or a narrative that we created around something that happened. It has stayed with us and we are attached to it. We continue to believe them even as adults that dictate and drive how we behave.Whoever you think you are is exactly who you’re going to end up being in life. Click To Tweet
I’m one that has dealt with that. That self-image thing was a big deal for me, especially after my accident. I went from being this great, big-time football player to having to deal with a physical challenge and what people would consider a disability or a handicap. Getting over that image of myself and what limitations that caused within me was a major success for me. How do we begin to overcome these self-imposed beliefs and limitations about ourselves?
You’re my new hero because as I’ve been preparing for the interview and I found out more about you and your story, I’m like, “Wow.” I feel I’m going to learn a lot more here than I could possibly teach or give to your audience. It’s also a perfect example of where I’m coming from. You’re right. I was going to say especially creative people but almost everybody has that little bit of self-doubt, lack of self-confidence, and those little nagging thoughts or beliefs like, “Maybe I don’t have what it takes to do this. Maybe I’m not good enough,” and all those kinds of negative narratives.
What I found for me was the trick and the challenge was to change my self-image. The original title for this book was Who Do You Think You Are? That’s now the title of chapter one. “Who do you think you are?” is the most important question we can ask ourselves. Many years ago, when I was practicing law, I was having an argument with somebody. In the middle of the conversation, she stopped, put her hands on her hips and said, “Who do you think you are?” She meant that question as an insult but it stopped me in my tracks. I was like, “What a great question. Who do I think I am?” I realized at that moment that whoever I am is exactly who I’m going to end up being in life.
Another way of saying, “Who do you think you are?” is “How do you see yourself?” Going through this process when I transitioned my career from lawyer to photographer, I got to see all the negative thoughts and beliefs that I had about myself. It took a lot of work because a lot of this stuff has its origins in childhood. We get messages that we don’t understand. We have interactions with the adults in our lives that we might take personally, even though it’s not meant to be personal.
We can come to all kinds of conclusions about ourselves, who we are in the world, what we deserve from life and what we’re capable of. The problem is we never questioned those thoughts and beliefs. It becomes the fabric of who we think we are. It becomes a subconscious program that I wake up one day and many years later, it’s still running my life.
That’s the story of perhaps many people. I want to say that wherever you are and whatever you think about yourself is okay. The reason why I say it’s okay is because you may be feeling like you can’t and you don’t have what it takes. You may be feeling that you’re not good enough. That’s okay because it’s not about who you are. It’s about who you’re going to become. Wherever you are, you have to start where you are. Wherever you are, you have to see yourself for what you are and where you are. See the real you with no covers like putting on some type of mask or a different identity as if you’re trying to be something that you’re not. Be yourself and see you for the authentic you.
When you can start there and see your real self and be real with yourself, you can see everything that needs to change or that needs to be addressed in order for you to become. Success is not about who you are. It’s about who you become. Success gives you who you are, but it’s about becoming that person that can produce this level of success. It’s all about journey and process, but a lot of times we’re stuck in our tracks.
One of the reasons I got into this business is not only to tell my story and my message, help people and be an example of what’s possible, but I’ve seen a lot of people that defeat themselves before they even crossed the start line. You’ve probably seen it too. There’s this big audacious goal that we have or someone that we aspire to be like or experience life like theirs. We say, “I don’t have what it takes. That’s great for them but I could never.” We see what they’ve done and the life that they’re living. They seem so big to us and we see ourselves as smaller or something less than.
All that person has does is develop themselves and elevate their level of consciousness to produce a certain result in their life. Through that process, they’ve had to deal with a lot of things, overcome a lot of things and a lot of the things they had to overcome mostly was themselves versus the outside world. A lot of times, we are not willing to do that work. I’m interested in how do you get your clients or the people that follow you? What is your message in your book to help us execute and go through that process of discovery, development, and becoming in order to experience the results that we want to have in our lives?
The first thing I would say is in my experience, most people talk themselves out of greatness at least five times per day, “I could never do that. I can never be that. That could never happen to me.” The next thing I recognized for me is that a lot of us are a lot more capable and lovable than we believe and know. It’s beginning to accept that maybe this idea that I have about myself, as I talk about in the book, most of my self-image, the limitations and the beliefs that I have about myself are the product of a 6-year-old. It was a 5-year-old, a 6-year-old or a 4-year-old who came to certain conclusions.
There’s a three-step process. The first step was to begin to become conscious of those limiting thoughts and beliefs. Often, they run in the background. It’s like that background program that runs on the computer that you don’t notice but it’s always there. My personal belief is that when we have painful experiences as a child, we repress that. When there are negative emotions involved and messages about how worthwhile, lovable and capable we are, those get repressed and pushed down into the subconscious.
The first few years when I was telling everybody I wanted to be a photographer and nothing was happening, I could see that I was doing all kinds of things to avoid taking the actions that I needed to take to put myself out there. I began to look at the thoughts and beliefs that must be running this behavior. At a certain point, it became clear that I was avoiding. It was avoidance behavior. I was watching TV and playing video games instead of making marketing calls for my business and submitting my photos for shows, exhibitions and publication. I had to become aware that there was something else going on that I wasn’t aware of. I had to become conscious of my unconscious thoughts and beliefs.
The next step was to begin to question that. Sometimes I said this out loud. I would be preparing an application to submit my photos for publication in a newspaper or a magazine or something like that and this little voice would be going in the back of my head, “Why bother? Nothing’s going to come from this. You’re not good enough. They’re not going to want to publish your photos.” I had to stop at that moment when I became aware and questioned that and say out loud sometimes, “Is that true? Do I know that that’s true? Is that the story that I’ve been telling myself all these years?”
The third part is to take the action and put myself out there. There are also some intermediate steps and this book is set up as a workbook. At the end of each chapter, there are exercises that help to uncover, question and then reprogram. That’s the other part of this. I had to reprogram all those negative limiting thoughts and beliefs using everything from positive affirmations to something called a mind movie, which you’re maybe familiar with, stuff to consciously and deliberately change my self-image, and change my thoughts and beliefs about myself.A lot of us are more capable and a lot more loveable than we believe. Click To Tweet
Walk us through some of the things you did to change your self-image because a lot of people struggle with making that switch.
The first one is something that a lot of people make fun of but that’s positive affirmations. I have a whole list of positive affirmations. In fact, in the appendix to the second edition of this book, I have three pages of positive affirmations. I take it a step further. What I do is I record those affirmations in my own voice and then I put some meditation music behind that. I put my earbuds in and I spend at least 20 to 30 minutes every morning listening or at night listening to my own voice reaffirming my positive self-worth, my capabilities and all of that. Acknowledging a positive and affirmative self-image. I have something called the vision statement, which is probably about a page and a half of not only, “Who do you think you are?” but it becomes, “Who do you want to be in life?”
I talk about the difference between being a reactor and being a creator. If you look at those two words, they are the exact same word, but when you move the Cs, you move from being a reactor to a creator. My vision statement is who I want to be in life. It has my career, business, personal life, how I feel about myself and my relationship with something greater. I use guided visualizations. I have something called a vision board, where I have a visual representation of the things that I want to achieve. I was never a sports guy. I didn’t have sports as an example of discipline and as a practice, but I had to develop my own spiritual, personal, daily practice routine and it involves all of these tools.
I love the fact that you called it a daily practice. The reason why that is so important is because a lot of the things that we’re talking about now do not come to the conscious mind of many people until there’s a crisis. Now it’s all about self-development, “I’m still getting in tune with myself.” When the water comes down and there’s no storm to navigate, we forget all of those things. The sails are up and the wind is blowing. We can just sit back and not have to do anything until the next storm comes up. What you’ve been doing during the calm is going to determine how you respond and perform on that next storm. As you can see, with this pandemic, we haven’t been practicing. It’s catching us unaware. We’re seemingly out of practice.
I love the fact that you said a daily practice. This whole idea around self-image and making sure that you have a strong self-image is embedded in what you do every day. You can’t just see yourself in one day if you’ve been seeing yourself as fat, out of shape, and incapable of accomplishing your goals and dreams. Do you think you’re just going to wake up one day and magically have the confidence to go out there and tackle anything and everything that may be coming your way or standing in front of you doing that if you haven’t been practicing self-image and practicing feeling this way about yourself? A routine is very important. It’s like bathing. If you don’t bathe, then you’re going to stink. You have to bathe every single day.
What I found is it’s that kind of commitment that reinforces my value and worth as a person. Ultimately, where I’m going with all this is moving from being my own worst enemy to my own best friend and that means learning how to love and forgive myself, to become my own biggest cheerleader and advocate. One of the challenges that I faced was I have never taken a photography class or an art appreciation class in college.
My background is in law and business. I have an MBA and a law degree. I studied Economics undergrad and I never had any of that creative, whatever you want to call it. When I moved to LA in the late 1980s, I got a job working in the entertainment industry as an entertainment attorney. I started meeting all these creative people and I fell in love with the creative process. At that point, it was filmmaking. Eventually, I turned that into still photography. I was challenged every day by this idea, “Who do you think you are to be a photographer? You never even took a photography class.”
What happened was I practiced every single day and more than anybody I knew when it came to learning how to do photography. The problem was I was getting good with my camera and people were acknowledging that but I couldn’t let it in because I still had that old self-image who says, “No, you’re not a creative person. You don’t have what it takes.” I had to have my self-image catch up with who I was being in the world.
Do you still practice maintaining a strong self-image? If so, what are some of the things that you’re doing to maintain that?
I have everything from these affirmations that I do and this mind movie. All those tools I use on a regular basis every day. I know you’re going to save this question until the end, but one of the best things I could recommend for anybody in any business, relationship or family situation has been to learn how to love and forgive myself. The problem was I would beat myself up for all those shortcomings and what I perceived as failures and limitations.
I was always so hard on myself and that made me not want to do anything because it was like, “I’m going to fail and feel bad about myself, so I may as well sit on the couch and watch TV.” I see this a lot with other people. I don’t have any kids of my own but I got a bunch of nieces and nephews. I see how this mentality of being hard on ourselves and unforgiving. I was much quicker to forgive other people than I was myself and that kept me from moving forward.
Sometimes we feel we deserve punishment for whatever reason. A lot of times, it’s connected to some past behavior that we committed that made us feel bad. We’ve never let that go and so we punish ourselves.
Beating ourselves up never makes us better people and there’s this belief that it does. What we want is awareness. This didn’t go the way I thought it was going to go. It may have even caused harm or injury to myself or another person. What I want is what I call the three As, awareness, accountability and action. I want to be aware when something I’ve done has had a negative impact, either on myself or another. I want to be accountable if I have caused harm or injury, especially to another person. I want to get into action to set that right and take responsibility.
Taking responsibility is a whole other subject. That’s chapter two in my book. One of the biggest changes for me has been to stop blaming other people, conditions, circumstances and everything out there for why my life wasn’t working. I have some experience in the twelve-step programs. I’ve wrestled with some addictive, compulsive behaviors in my life. I recognize that a lot of my excuse for doing those things was, “This happened to me when I was a little kid or as an adult, this or this.” I had all these reasons why I was justified in doing those behaviors but I began to realize that if I want my life to change and chapter three of my book is about power. I talk about the true power and what power is.
I recognize that I have to begin to take responsibility for my life. I can talk a lot more about that if you want, but that was also a turning point for me was to begin to take responsibility. Here’s the other thing. It was not only to not blame other people, circumstances or conditions but also to not blame myself and recognize, “That didn’t work out. I need to make some adjustments.” What I say is there is no such thing as a bad choice or wrong decision if we’re willing to do two things. Number one, learn from our mistakes and number two, forgive ourselves for them.
This is a major element to having a strong self-image and detaching and letting go of the past because a lot of times, we make excuses to feel a certain way about ourselves. Those excuses prevent us from doing the work, expanding, trying and reaching for something because this happened or that happened. Everybody’s got something and I’m very delicate with my clients when we get on these types of subjects because some people have been through some terrible things.
At the same time, the quicker you can get over that, the better. As tough as it may be, it’s over. That was something that happened to you 10 or 15 years ago or even if it was yesterday. We have to move on from that. It keeps winning if it prevents you from progressing. Until you’re willing to let it go so that you can move on, you will always lose. It will always have a sense of control over you.Beating ourselves up never makes us better people. Click To Tweet
We have to take this as, “This was an experience in my life. That’s what it was. I’m going to harvest what I can from it and Band-Aid up my bruises and my wounds from it. I’m going to nurse them and I’m going to help them heal and then I’m going to go on.” If it leaves a scar, then it’s a reminder that I was able to get through this. My mind and my body are calloused now from that experience. I remember what I learned from that experience every time I looked at that scar but it didn’t kill me. I’m still here. This scar right here, there’s a story behind that scar. There are some lessons behind that scar and I can share that with you. It’s those things that I learned during this experience that has allowed me to be who I am. If we can go into that with that type of mentality, that’s where you gain strength. That’s power in my mind.
The last chapter of my book is the longest chapter in the book and it’s all about forgiveness, which for me is about letting go of the past. Here’s the problem. I can only speak for myself but I have seen this in other people. I don’t always want to let go of the past. I got this self-image that says, “I’m a victim. They did me wrong and I’m entitled to be angry at them and hang on to that because that’s now part of who I think I am.” Remember the most important question we can ask in any situation is, “Who do you think you are?” When somebody did me wrong, girlfriend, family or client, I want to hang on to that. I had to recognize that there’s a part of me that does not want to let go of the past because that becomes my excuse.
I don’t know if you’re familiar with A Course in Miracles, but it talks a lot about the ego. Eckhart Tolle and a lot of people talk about the ego. The ego is that part of our mentality and psychology that takes everything personally and that never wants to forgive anybody for anything. I had to look closely at that in myself and see that I was hanging on to stuff.
I’m not getting into all the details but I had one experience where I could never let somebody that I was close to in my life know that I was happy. I had to be unhappy around this person whenever I saw them or spoke to them because I wanted them to know how bad they had hurt me. One day that person said to me, “You’re only hurting yourself.” I was like, “I was denying my own happiness in order to punish somebody else.” I had to tell the truth about that and that is an obstacle. That’s a block to letting go of the past. That’s why I spent so much time in my workshops and in my book talking about forgiveness. It can be challenging to do that and to let go of the way you were talking about doing it.
Letting go is freedom because what you’ve described is being in prison. It’s like being paralyzed. I have had someone like that in my life. They are willing to go to the extreme to hurt themselves in order for them to feel pain. A gut check, how is that serving you? Ask yourself and be authentic with yourself, not your real self but be real with yourself. How is that serving you?
I use that phrase a lot, “How is it serving me?” I thought it was serving me until I realized what I was doing. It’s having that awareness about it and recognizing, “I get to choose.” Here’s the big thing. I’m responsible for my life. Until I recognize that and begin to put that into practice, I could not let go of all those hurts. I could not let go of all those wrongs that have been done to me because my identity, how I see myself and who I think I am says, “I’m a victim of what they did to me. They’re bad and wrong and I’m suffering as a result of what they did.”
Until I began to look at that and tell the truth about that which is, “No, they don’t have any power over me unless I give them that power.” By revisiting that and telling that story over and over again whether to myself or others and reinforcing that injury and harm, that’s the beginning of letting go of the past. Until I let go of the past, I can’t move into the future. I was dragging all that stuff with me into all my relationships and work situations. It was crazy.
Nobody controls you. Whatever feeling you have around whatever happened to you in your life, you are choosing that feeling. Right, wrong or indifferent, I don’t care what the person did or what happened. Whatever feeling you have about it, you are choosing that feeling. If it’s not a self-serving feeling, then you have the power to change it, but it’s not going to change until you change it. That’s it. It’s one of those harsh realities and we’re adults. We have to face that harsh reality quickly. Sometimes we are too mature to be hanging on to things that don’t serve us. A lot of this has to do with not understanding.
First of all, it’s taking life for granted. Life is precious every second and we don’t have time to be in that space of having a victim’s mentality. You don’t have time for that because there’s too much to do and life is too short for that. That’s the first thing. The second thing is understanding what your purpose is in life. That’s to be the best version of yourself so that you can give the best version of yourself. When you’re spending time in this little pity party hanging on to the past, you’re wasting time.
In this game, anything can happen. You’re going to experience all kinds of stuff but the overall objective is to be aligned with the universe and with God, which is upward and outward. It’s all about expanding, contributing, giving and serving. If you’re not doing that and your practice isn’t supporting that mission, you’re wasting your time.
I agree. Let’s talk about power. I define true power as the ability or capacity to consciously choose and/or change our thoughts, feelings, words and actions. For most of my life, I thought power was having power over other people, but I realized true power is about having power over myself and that means consciously and deliberately in each moment choosing what I think, feel, say and do. There’s a very important relationship between those four things.
Our thoughts lead to our feelings, our feelings lead to our words and actions, and our words and actions lead to the outcomes that we experience in life. If I start with crappy thoughts, I’ll have crappy feelings, crappy words and actions, and crappy outcomes. The opposite is also true, positive thoughts, positive feelings, positive words and actions, positive outcomes.
By exercising my true power, what that means is no longer blaming other people for how I feel. The thing that we say a lot in relationships especially is, “You make me feel.” It could be, “You make me feel so good” or “You make me feel bad,” but it’s both the same dynamic. Nobody makes me feel anything good or bad. Whatever I’m experiencing at this moment, I’m choosing that. The way it works, the best I can tell and I’m not a psychologist, but I’ve looked at my own life and other people, what happens is information comes in from the outside world through our senses and it passes through what I call this internal filter that we have.
This internal filter is made up of who we think we are and how we see ourselves. That’s usually based on our past experiences. For instance, if I always had trouble with Math as a kid, as an adult, I’m still going to struggle with Math or whatever it is. The information passes through that filter, then I react to the situation based on the meaning that I give that situation and based on that internal filter.Until you let go of the past, you can’t move into the future. Click To Tweet
I’m not reacting to what’s happening out there at all. It’s a subjective interpretation. When somebody says something “mean to me,” they don’t make me feel bad. Nobody has the power to hurt me unless I give them that power. I take that information and here’s the thing. When I feel good about myself and who I think I am is good, valuable, worthy and lovable, it doesn’t matter what you think of me. It doesn’t matter what you say to me or how you treat me. If there’s abuse and all of that harmful behavior, we have to learn how to set boundaries. This is also really important. I talk a lot in chapter seven in my book about healthy boundaries in relationships. The point is nobody makes me feel anything and by extension, nobody makes me think, feel, say or do anything. I’m always choosing that.
That’s where the true power lies. We spend a lot of time and energy trying to dictate and control this outward world and environment. Until you get ahold of what’s going on inside of you emotionally, mentally as well as spiritually, that’s where you lose the game. It’s an internal game. It’s not an external game.
I had to recognize that because most of my life, I thought that if I felt good, it was because of what you did. If I felt bad, it’s because of what you didn’t do or whatever. I was beginning to recognize that nobody controls the direction of my life. I say this all the time to the people I work with, “If you don’t learn to control your thinking, your thinking is going to control you. If you don’t learn to control your emotions, your emotions are going to control you.”
I use all these little processes that I have to reprogram and consciously and deliberately bring a positive intention and a positive self-image. The important part of this is action. You alluded to this earlier and that’s getting into action. It’s not enough to sit around and say positive affirmations. Those positive affirmations have to change my emotional state. Positive thoughts, feelings, words and actions mean positive outcomes.
I went from somebody who never won an award for anything in my life to someone who was in the last few years had won more than 70 awards for my photography. I went from somebody who was afraid to post my photos on Facebook because I thought people would attack me or criticize me for them to somebody who’s had photos published in newspapers, magazines, online and seen by millions of people around the world. It’s a total shift but I had to take the action. I have a whole story about how I got my photos published in the newspaper. The very short answer is I had to submit those photos.
I cold-called the newspaper. I asked for the photo department and got one of the photo editors on the phone. I said, “I’m a local New York City area photographer. I take great photos of New York City. I want to send you those photos, so you can put them in the paper.” She said, “Great.” She gave me her email address. For almost ten months, I sent her photos probably 5 or 6 times a month. I never heard a word, nothing. I was like, “Damn. What does this mean? Do I give up? Do I take this personally?” This is another key for anybody there. Nothing is personal. You can’t take anything personally. The minute I take it personally, I’m going to stop. I said, “I can’t take this personally and I just kept sending the photos.”
One day, I get a phone call. I didn’t know it was her. I thought it was a spam call. She said, “We really liked that photo you sent. We want to run it in the paper on Sunday.” I was like, “Great.” She’s like, “How much do you charge?” I was like, “Damn.” I had to negotiate with her on the spot. They ended up publishing eleven of my photos and it got to the point where they started calling me and saying, “Did you get any photos of the fireworks over in New York last night? Did you get any photos of that storm that moved through?” It went from me not hearing from them for almost a year to them calling me because I didn’t give up.
I have this example that I’ve used several times about dating, ironically enough. A lot of times, we have an idea about the mate that we want. We say, “We want them to have this or that.” We have checklists and all these things we want them to have and be, so the idea of a perfect date or spouse. What we fail to do is understand that this person that you’ve created and want, if they’re the type of person that has all of these qualities, have you thought about what type of person they may want if they have all of these types of qualities that you’ve identified? Secondly, do you think you’re that person? Thirdly, are you willing to become that type of person?
Are you willing to become that?
That’s the question of the day. We all have goals and dreams. We want to overcome our obstacles and challenges and be the best version of ourselves. The universe, God and life in and of itself and the experiences of life support that. If you’re here, you’re here for a reason in my mind. Your existence is in alignment with the purpose and the movement of God and the universe, which is upward and outward. It’s all about expanding. It’s not sitting still and it’s definitely not going backwards. It’s all about going forward, going outward, expanding, becoming more and experiencing more. Your very existence or your being here supports that.
We have to ask ourselves, “Are we willing to do what it takes? Are we willing to become the person that can experience the full version of ourselves?” Stop looking at all these things that exist in the present. We want to enjoy them and learn from them for the purposes of supporting that mission of your existence. You have a responsibility to grow, to change and to become. The best version of you is based on who you are willing to become and what you’re willing to do to become it.
Are you willing to let go, see yourself as a greater person, understand what that looks like, how that person would move and spend their day, how are they planning their day and execute them? Are you willing to do that type of thing to become the best version of yourself? If you are, it doesn’t matter where you are because you know that is a temporary spot. You’re moving off that starting now.
That’s my next book. I talk a lot about purpose and following our purpose. A big part of me being able to be bigger than I think I am to move into who I want to be in life has been to love who I am right now, to learn to love myself as I am, flaws, imperfections, shortcomings and forgive myself for those things. I have a four-point business plan that I’d like to share with you real quick. I talked to business owners about this all the time. Number one is to never give up because there’s no guarantee of success in life, but there’s always one guarantee of failure. That’s if we give up and quit. I know you know all about that. You wouldn’t be where you are now if you didn’t have that.
Number two is don’t take anything personally. Nothing is personal in life. As much as I want to make it personal, it’s only that ego part of our personality that wants to take everything personally. We can detach from all of that stuff. In an odd way, if I don’t take the negative stuff personally, I can’t take the positive stuff personally either. If I take the positive stuff personally, eventually I’m going to take the negative stuff personally. It’s detaching from all of that and making choices and decisions independent of what we think is going to get for us.
Number three is to do at least one thing every day to move your business or your life forward. It could be something simple. Some days it’s just making the bed, but do at least one thing every day that’s going to move you forward. Number four is to forgive yourself when you don’t do 1, 2 or 3. For me at least, what’s been the big sticking point is I would not do 1, 2 or 3 and then I started beating myself up. I got news for you. When I beat myself up, I don’t want to do anything and the next day, I’m not going to try. I’m not going to pick myself up.The situation is never the problem. The problem is always and only how you see yourself in that situation. Click To Tweet
Learning to love myself when I least like who I’m being. That’s my definition of self-love, to love myself when I least like who I’m being. That’s the beginning. That was a change for me that began to open all these doors. I’ve only shared with you this much about what I’ve accomplished as a photographer. Now with this book, writing this book and moving into that, that’s a whole new career for me as an author, speaker, teacher and coach. None of that is possible if I’m hating myself, beating myself up, making myself wrong from when I don’t reach whatever goal I have, or whatever level of perfection or performance I’m supposed to have.
If I can share what came up for me when you were going over those four things. I agree with you about loving yourself where you are. Those four things that you just describe to me, that’s love in action. I love myself enough to do 1, 2, 3 and 4.
Nobody can hurt us and take anything away from us. Every time, we face a challenge, obstacle, failure or something that if I love myself enough, I’m going to move through that. I’m going to do whatever it takes to get past that. That’s the resilience I hear you talking about. I love that interview you did with Clint Schumacher. That’s his message too. For me, it comes down to finding that inner strength from a place of love. Not forcing myself to take action and push through my fears, but loving myself enough so that I don’t have any fear.
Ultimately, I found that most of my fear was based on self-recrimination, self-loathing and self-hatred. I talk in the book about making cold calls from my photography business. The way I was able to move through that was to recognize that it was me beating myself up while I was on those calls that were causing all the fear and anxiety. It wasn’t what other people were doing to me. When I love myself, I could face any obstacle and challenge, and I can come through that.
I believe that you can get to a space where you do these things that you’re describing not because you have to, but because you get to.
That’s gratitude and appreciation. That’s the attitude that changes somebody’s life, “I get to do this” rather than ”I have to do this.” If I’m still mad at the world and still see myself as a victim of my childhood or this or that or the other thing, it’s very hard to be grateful. I got to change that. That’s my process. I don’t know if that’s true for anybody else, but I had to change that self-image and who I think I am in the world.
You don’t have to be what society dictates you to be. You don’t have to be a victim. Even if society is labeling you as a victim potentially, you don’t have to be a statistic. You don’t have to accept those things as an individual. Whatever is going on out there, it’s just going on. It’s just noise. It doesn’t have to impact what’s going on in here. A lot of times, it does but it doesn’t have to. You have the ability to not allow it to impact you on the inside. Does it take a little bit of effort? Yes, but it’s worth it.
That’s what I mean by true power. The situation is never the problem. The problem is always and only how I see myself in that situation. It turns out that’s good news because I often can’t change the external circumstances, conditions and situations of my life, but I can always change how I see myself. I didn’t know that. I thought I was defined by my past. I thought that who I was yesterday defines who I am now. I had to rework that as well. I had to change and shift all of that.
How can people connect with you if they wanted to learn more about you?
The best place to find out about me and my work is my website, BeBiggerToday.com. I’m on Facebook as well. You could also Google my name, Peter Alessandria. The title of the book is Be Bigger Than You Think You Are! It’s available on Amazon. I recorded the audiobook myself. That’ll be available. I do a weekly Zoom workshop that’s open to everybody. I do one-on-one coaching, speaking engagements, corporate consulting, and that kind of thing.
Thank you for that information and thank you for coming to the show. I love your title, Be Bigger Than You Think You Are!
Thank you, Rodney. You’re an inspiration to me. I’m so grateful to have found out about you and your story because you’re a living and breathing example of everything that I talk about in this book. It’s great.
Thank you again for coming to the show.
There you have it. It’s another successful episode of the show. When it comes to being bigger than you think you are, it comes down to one thing and that’s choice. You could choose to play small or you could choose to play big. Those choices come with different sets of criteria. If you got to play small or big, there’s going to be criteria for those. Both of them are hard. It’s hard when you’re playing small. It’s hard when you’re playing big. Choose your hard.
I can tell you, one is going to have a better and greater payoff. What you want to do is think about your life at the end. When you look back over your life and the choices that you’ve made, the work that you did or you didn’t do, the relationships you created or you didn’t create, the things you held on to or let go of. What do you want that to look like? Is it going to be a replica of your bigger self or your smaller self?
Sit with that. Choose wisely. To be a game-changer requires making tough decisions. Sometimes those decisions are not just for you. It’s about the people that you can impact and serve, and the legacy that you leave behind. That’s what we want to base our decisions on. Not whether it’s difficult, hard or challenging, but what’s the impact of the decisions that we make. Until next time, peace and love.
- Be Bigger Than You Think You Are!: Overcoming Our Self-Imposed Limits To Have The Life We Want
- A Course in Miracles
- Clint Schumacher – past episode
- Peter Alessandria – Facebook
- Amazon – Be Bigger Than You Think You Are!: Overcoming Our Self-Imposed Limits To Have The Life We Want
- @PAlessandria – Twitter
- Is Life Knocking You Down? Read Rodney’s inspiring story – Get Up! I Can’t. I Will. I Did… Here’s How!
- Recognize Your Positive Potential – Essential Assertions by Rodney Flowers
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About Peter Alessandria
Born and raised in the New York City area, Peter attended college and law school in Upstate New York. After law school, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as an entertainment attorney. Today he is an author, speaker and teacher, as well as an award-winning, internationally published, fine art, portrait and commercial photographer.
Working as an attorney in the entertainment industry sparked Peter’s own creative interests and in early 2000, while still practicing law, he began experimenting with digital video production. He eventually took up filmmaking as a hobby and wrote, produced and directed six short films. But it wasn’t until he picked up a digital still camera for the first time in 2004, that his passion for creative expression came into full swing. Peter was soon devoting all his spare time to learning photography and quickly became proficient as a portrait, landscape and still-life photographer.
Everything was great until the end of 2008. That was the year the Global Financial Crisis hit, and within a matter of months, Peter lost his law practice. Despite his best efforts, he was unable to revive it and soon came to a crossroads: what he was going to do with the rest of his life?
After much deliberation, Peter decided to follow his heart and pursue his passion for photography full-time. So in 2009, he moved back to the East Coast and launched his photography business. Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well at first. For almost three years, Peter struggled to get his new business going. More than once wondered if he had made the wrong choice. At first, it seemed like the economy was the problem. Then he thought it might be his lack of formal education in art or photography. Next, he wondered if it was the competition from all the other photographers out there. At one point, he was even convinced it was because he didn’t have the latest and greatest camera equipment.
But it turned that out none of that was the problem. What was holding Peter back were his own limiting thoughts and beliefs about himself. He had a very negative self-image when it came to being a creative person and it was his own fear and self-doubt that were stopping him from moving forward.
Peter fought hard for many months to overcome these obstacles. Using various techniques he was eventually able to shift his self-image and breakthrough into a more empowered way of living. How he did this is what his book, “Be Bigger Than You Think You Are!® Overcoming Our Self-Imposed Limits to Have the Life We Want,” is all about.