I’m thinking today about Thoreau’s wise and entirely accurate statement: “A man who stands in his own way will find the whole world is in his way.” How often do we bind ourselves and close off the paths of possibility by parroting self-limiting beliefs and negative mantras, like
- I’ll never be any good at this
- I’m not young enough, or good-looking enough
- I don’t have the money
- I can’t speak in public
- I never remember dreams
You might want to take a moment to make your own list, of things you say to yourself that put a block in front of you or put yourself under your personal cloud of misery or defeat. Then make a second list, of similar statements you hear others delivering. Some of these are repeated so often that they really do become negative mantras, with the power of a mantra to move the mind – and then the world the mind helps to generate – into a groove it is hard to exit.
I am not going to say that “you can’t afford the luxury of a negative thought”. Bad things happen, challenges come up, and we need to appraise these situations with a hard cold eye. And then get up and move on and not hold closed the doors that may be open if we’ll let them open.
So: if you find yourself guilty of making a statement, spoken or unspoken, that limits you and shrinks your world of possibility, go outside and spit it out. I mean literally. Get it out of you. Do it right away, and move on.
If you hear someone else trying to shrink the world and its opportunities, you don’t need to argue with them. You can simply withhold your consent from any statement that limits what the world can be for you. If you know the person well, however, you can do more. When you hear them playing Eyeore for the Nth time, telling you yet again what’s wrong with them, you can say, gently but firmly, “If I were you, i would take that negative mantra outside and spit it out.” They may goggle at you, or feel offended, when you first say this, but if they follow your advise, they’ll be grateful.