I’ve had two separate conversations this week with clients who did a terrific job of talking themselves out of great ideas. And then a day later I did the same thing. With me, I had an idea of something I wanted to create and share within my community. That idea had a lot of good energy to it - full of fun and possibility. But within minutes I started focusing instead on a dusty old train of thought about why it couldn’t work and I almost gave up on the idea. At first it was slightly embarrassing to realize that I wasn’t immune to this particular mental habit. But then I found it reassuring. Why would I find that reassuring?
If we all do it, then it points to the fact that all of us get caught up in our thinking from time to time. And that’s reassuring to know because it means that the solution is not to find another, “better” idea but to think differently (which means not categorically dismissing it) so our idea has a chance to reveal itself more fully.
In my case, acting on my great idea would mean I’d have to talk to other people. They might not like it. They might not understand it. They might not want it. They might criticize it. It might take longer to create than I would prefer.
My logical mind, in it’s attempt to keep me safe, came up with lots of reasons why that idea wouldn’t work (too unsafe - for all the reasons mentioned above). The good feelings I had when the idea first popped into my mind were soon replaced by feelings of insecurity and self doubt. Hmm…must mean I need to find another idea (to keep me safe).
But the truth is twofold: one, we aren’t all that great at predicting the future by what has happened in the past. We focus on the unpleasant things we don’t want to have happen again. We forget how much we've learned and how many possibilities are available to us in this fresh new moment right now. No one ever created anything without being able to shift their focus to the future and what could be.
The second truth is this: We don’t have to spend our time and energy rehashing old patterns of thought that restrict us to a safe little circle of limited possibility. Thoughts in and of themselves have no power over us, unless we give it to them.
How can this help you? If you find that you’re talking yourself of out being, doing or having more in your life, it helps to know that train of thought is easily derailed. Those thoughts don’t have to control your actions. You can even still have those thoughts but they won’t have any power over you. It’s the difference between thinking there’s a big scary snake in your path and recognizing it’s just an old rope.
What’s your takeaway from this? I’d love to know, so feel free to share with me here and I’ll respond to you directly.