Self-suggestion is one of the means for strengthening the will to realise goals. Possessing higher aspirations and fixing one's gaze on the shining horizons of life induce one to make a wilful and persisting quest for attaining those goals.
Imam 'Ali, the Master of the Pious, said:
Vie with one another in acquiring worthy qualities and merits, in possessing great ideals, and in entertaining majestic thoughts, so that you may receive their mighty reward and attain their momentous results. 6
So long as you think that you cannot and that you do not have the capacity, the chances of success are small, and even if you possess the most brilliant of talents, they would come to nothing. Conversely, someone who is of ordinary intelligence and ability but is self confident will be successful. He would succeed because in the course of his quest and endeavour to realise his plans, he will discover the source of the qualities that he needs after making some effort. He succeeds due to his confidence in his progress and is not discouraged by the failure of others. He begins his work by utilising his experience, and rest assured that he would succeed much sooner and in a better manner than you ever imagined. In order to have the courage to launch a project, drive away doubt and hesitation from yourself. Perhaps others, out of caution and sympathy, may want to make you doubtful and hesitant about your own capacities. But don't you have doubts about the correctness of their prophecies? Will you permit everyone to put any suggestion that he likes into your mind?
Listen to others with an intelligent ear, but continue to develop and strengthen your courage. Observe those who possess this precious quality and make an analysis of it. Every night reassure yourself with a series of far-reaching suggestions and imagine yourself to be in the skin of the courageous person that you would soon be. Whenever you get an opportunity-and be boldly innovative in creating one-take up a task that involves the making of decisions, and in testing times remember this suggestion: "I can and I will!" If you resolve upon an important task involving problems you are well familiar with, tell yourself that you can do it. Raise your vigilance to the required pitch and you will become used to confronting them. 7
In the same way that pessimism is a kind of negative self-suggestion in the view of psychologists that leads to worry and anxiety, optimism is a self- suggestion to reinforce one's spirit and to make up for inadequate will power. Accordingly, Imam 'Ali, may Peace be upon him, said:
Be optimistic about the future in order to succeed in overcoming obstacles. 8
6. Ghurar al-hikam, p. 355.
7. Jagot, Persian trans. "Talqin be-nafs," pp. 212-213.
8. Ghurar al-hikam, p. 347.
Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"
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