Your Beliefs Compel You Forward Or Paralyze You
I recently reorganized and moved my entire home office over the course of a single weekend. I had not been functioning well in my work space for months, but instead of making the change swiftly, I suffered in what felt like a chaotic space for far too long. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t have the time to organize my office or I didn’t have the money to buy new furniture, the problem was that I was telling myself that I was too busy I SWORE I desperately wanted a new office. It’s not that I’m not busy. I am. I travel a lot for speaking engagements and I do have a lot work, but not so much work that I couldn’t make this change. I was just doing what humans do, which is get in their own way.
People will tell me how badly they want something and immediately follow up with an explanation of why they can’t get what they want. Usually the obstacle is not insurmountable and often the obstacle is self-constructed. It’s hard to kill anything you create, even when the thing you’re creating harms you, but if you want to be fully empowered you have to crush all of the obstacles you’ve so carefully constructed in order to stand in your own power and take agency in your life.
Whether it’s getting more clients, writing a book, asking for a promotion or being disciplined around your schedule, all of these things are in your control unless you believe they aren’t in which case you are 100% correct.
As Henry Ford apparently said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right.”
For everyone who wants to cart out their obstacle to explain their paralysis or stagnation, I assure you there is someone with a bigger obstacle that they have overcome. People overcome unspeakable tragedies everyday. So the obstacle isn’t really the problem. To be sure, the obstacle you create is as real as any obstacle that appears in nature beyond our control. Things like death, natural disasters, illness and personal tragedy are not within your control but our self-constructed barriers are just as powerful as those that blindside us.
Our brains are powerful. If we believe that something is stopping us, the belief is more powerful than the reality itself.
When I was young my grandfather came to visit us from Hawaii. We had chickens at the time. My grandfather made a circle of chicken scratch and placed the chicken in the middle of the circle while the chicken stood paralyzed staring at the circle of feed. My grandfather told me that there was no way of telling how long she would stand there until I created an opening, so I did. Once I disrupted the circle the chicken began to eat. We all have self-constructed circles that imprison us. We don’t need walls or physical barriers to keep us contained; we are perfectly capable of creating a prison of our own design in our mind. Only you can create your own opening, only you can decide to begin.
When you were young, your father or mother may have read the 1930’s classic, The Little Train That Could. Although a children’s books, the story resonates a complex truth of cognitive distortions that tells us that our behavior and thus our reality is shaped by our belief system. What got the Little Train up the hill was her believing that she could which propelled her into the action of getting to the top. Sometimes we all spend a little too much time contemplating the circle not knowing where to begin. We have to begin with our beliefs just like the Little Train. Be the Little Train and not the chicken.
Ann marie Houghtailing is an international speaker, coach and writer. Her writing has appeared in Washington Post, San Diego Union Tribune, Yahoo! Finance, Huffington Post, XO Jane, Thought Catalogue, San Diego Business Journal and Daily Worth