The power of the mind is a powerful thing. It can work with us, or it can work against us. The Buddha once said, “The mind is everything. What you think you become.” Our mindset and belief system is fundamentally just as important, if not more important, than our actions. What negative thoughts or beliefs are holding you back, keeping you from reaching your dreams? I could never do that…I’ll never feel better…If only things didn’t turn out like this. You can take all the right actions, but if you don’t believe in yourself, if your mind is filled with negative thoughts, your fate has already been determined. Right action without right mind is never going to convince you that you deserve to be happy or that you are destined for greatness. While there is no doubt that sometimes you must “fake it, til you make it”, the concept still relies on the fact that you are pretending to feel or believe a positive way even if you don’t. Success and recovery both start with the vision or belief in the possibility that things can and will get better.
Breaking Down Barriers
History is filled with stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Most were not caused by luck or circumstance, but because someone dared to challenge established beliefs. One of the most famous stories about changing accepted beliefs is the story of the four-minute mile. Until the 1950s, It was an accepted fact that it was impossible for a human to run a mile in under four minutes. That all changed when Roger Banister shattered the record on May 6, 1954. That record did not stand for ten years. In fact, it did not even remain for one year. It was broken just two months after Banister ran the first sub-four minute mile. Many have ran it in under four minutes since. So why after decades of failure were multiple men able to redefine what was possible? Were humans suddenly given a special power that they didn’t have before? Well, in a way, yes. Before Banister first broke the record, running a mile under four minutes was not only a challenge, but considered impossible. Once that “fact” was proved false, it gave others the ability to change their own perceived reality. It gave people the permission to stretch themselves further than they had originally thought possible. What “realities” in your life are holding you back? What limitations have you placed on your ability to succeed?
Dream A Little Dream
From a young age, children are encouraged to dream and let their imaginations run wild. There seems to be no limit to the things that they believe they can do. The world is a place filled with limitless possibilities. Yet, as we get older, we are told to pick a career and start getting serious. Not just any career, but one that is stable, reliable, and pays well. The world of possibility vanishes from our hearts. Magic ceases to exist and our dreams loose their luster. So we pick a safe career, safe friends, safe living, and a safe life. But still something feels missing…We’re unhappy and unfulfilled..Something has been lost, and we cannot seem to find out what it is. It is imagination. Just as the runners’ beliefs about the four-minute mile were holding them back, so too are our beliefs of our own lives. If we believe we are only capable of an entry-level job, we are. If we dream we can become a CEO, we will. Our limitations are rarely dependent on our circumstances or past experiences. While talent and intelligence are helpful assets, they do not guarantee a person’s success. In fact, sometimes they hinder it. People that are naturally born with the means to be successful many times are not appreciative of the gifts that they have. Those that are not, however, must earn them and place a high value on them because of the sacrifices they have had to make in order to attain them. It is the way people think about themselves that shapes their destiny.
Awareness Of Our Beliefs
The easy part is understanding how our beliefs and thoughts affect our lives. The hard part is taking our negative thoughts and changing them. Generally, we see the damage of our thoughts before we see the thought itself. In order to change our thoughts, we must first be aware of them. Things like self-esteem, self-worth, and views on our own capability are usually developed over the course of our lives. You don’t go to an interview telling yourself that you are not capable of doing the job right there in the moment. It is a process that has been built over many experiences, slowly changing the the way you view yourself. If we are not consciously aware of our thoughts, we can easy go into that interview, wondering why we lack confidence. Well, when all the thoughts in your head are telling you that you’re just “ordinary” or that you are not worth much, how else are you suppose to feel? It is not a process that takes place overnight. The brain naturally begins to belief what we tell it to believe. Once you find out the thoughts that are limiting you, redefine them in a way that liberates you. Change “I can’t” to “I can”, “I won’t” to “I will”. Even if you don’t 100% believe what you’re telling your mind, you will begin to see transformations in your life and your old thinking patterns shift.
In his book, Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankel points out, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” It is our own beliefs and opinions of the experiences in our lives that mold our character and determine how high to set the bar in life . Frankel was famous for enduring the torture of multiple concentration camps in Nazi Germany, remaining optimistic in one of the darkest times in human history. As he exemplified, the world can take almost everything from you, but it can never take your peace of mind- you have to willingly give that. No one is saying it is easy, but far too often we (myself included) take the easy road of blaming others or circumstances for our unhappiness and failure. But until we break the chains of doubt and have the courage to unlock ourselves from our own prison, happiness and dreams will continue to lie outside our grasp, anxiously awaiting our release.