“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
What's your story of what's possible in life? Do you find yourself telling your life's story as a series of tragic events in which you are always the victim? Or, are you telling your story as someone who overcomes challenges and wins at life?
The manner in which you define who you are, and the meaning you've attached to your experiences, the good and the not-so-good, play a critical role in what you believe to be possible for you in life.
For example, if you were to look at your life like a novel with chapters and focused on these specific scenes:
- a high point in your life
- a low point in your life
- a turning point in your life
- a negative early memory
- a positive early memory
In the context of the personal narrative taking place in your mind, what were the dominant thoughts and emotions that infused the plot of your autobiography? How would you define yourself during these particular moments in your life? Would you say that you continued to play the same role or did you make changes in how you thought about and responded to each situation?
Over the course of our lives, we weave these moments together in our mind to create our personal narrative. Our personal narrative defines what we believe to be possible based on our dominant thoughts, beliefs and assumptions.
You've heard the saying, "There's two sides to every story, right?" What if there is another perspective that you can adopt that could help you redefine what's possible in your life, would you be open to hearing it?
I hope so. In the following video, Steve Job shares with the 2005 graduating class of Stanford how to redefine possible in your life, after heartache, disappointment and adversity. His story is an example of how someone can choose to define what is possible in life and take action towards it, even when you may feel fear.
In this video, Steve shares how he didn't have a perfect life as a child. His parents adopted him. His biological mom was a graduate student who gave him up for adoption, believing that a couple would do a better job at raising him. But she had a stipulation, "Steve had to attend college".
Now, he could have accepted the notion that he would be defined solely by his academic prowess, yet, he decided to follow his curiosity, his passion and creativity. And, even after being fired from the company that "he" founded and built, and you know that had to be emotionally painful, right? He continued to redefine what was possible in his life by "seeing" his experiences from a perspective that empowered him. He became a master of his mindset.
Go back to those scenes mentioned above. In the scenes in which the story that you tell yourself is one of a victim and powerless, think about this for a moment, if you were such a victim and powerless, how were you able to overcome challenges and win in other moments in your life?
It's possible for you to tell yourself a different story. One that no longer defines you as a victim and powerless but as someone who faced daunting challenges and was able to overcome them. As a result, you respond to some experiences in a smarter, wiser and better manner, right? Of course you do.
I'm not suggesting that you lie about what has happened in your life. You can own your truth while at the same time, define it in a manner that inspires and empowers you and others. You can begin with focusing on the strength and wisdom that you gained from these experiences to reconstruct an empowering narrative of these scenes in your life.
We all go through rough patches in life. It is normal. Mastering our mindset includes being mindful of the emotional meanings that we have attached to our experiences and how they are scripting the story we tell ourselves about ourselves and life. The story that you are telling yourself is defining what you believe to be possible in life. Be sure to remember, "there's two sides to ever story"!
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