I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. When I can master this shift in thought pattern, the rest of life seems to fall in place.
Of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds. My mind seems to go to a negative place or outlook far easier than it does a positive one. I can “worst-case-scenario” like a pro. I rehearse failure with as much tenacity as a would-be Broadway star. When I do, it just leads to a mess, otherwise known as a self-fulfilling prophesy. But even more than that, it’s main effect is to stop me time and time again from chasing my dreams. I stop before I get started, before disaster can come a courting. It’s easier, safer, not to risk.
When I can turn this around, when I can focus on the possibility of success, I can be unstoppable. I came across this question the other day: What is your life moto? Without hesitation, I thought “How hard can it be?” When I can get myself into this framework, where I ask myself how hard can something be, when I can capture and hold onto the cocky, confident girl that lives inside me, I can accomplish almost anything.
This summer, I was faced with a similar situation. While planning a trip to England, my first in over 20 years, I was excited. But as the reality of how difficult it could be weighed on me, I grew hesitant and fearful. To see what I wanted to see in England, I would need to have a car. I got lost in self-doubt, paralyzed with fear. How could I possibly drive in England, where everything is on the wrong side? I would get into a wreck, I would total the car, I would kill someone and end up in jail. My life would be over. It was better to just stay home and stay safe. I got so bogged down in imagined fears and catastrophes that I did not want to go on the trip and almost cancelled the whole thing.
Then something happened. One day I was sitting with my journal in an unexpected hour of quiet, and previous accomplishments marched one by one into my memory. My Master’s degree earned with a 4.0 GPA while working full-time, my successful cross-country move to attend another graduate program before they had even accepted me (because who would not want me?), spearheading my church’s VBS program despite having little to no experience with such a thing, staining cabinets just days before putting a house on the market with absolutely no experience. Armed with YouTube videos and a kick-ass attitude, I asked myself How Hard Can It Be? And did it.
To make an already long story short, because y’all have better things to do and your own goals to get out and achieve, I did take the trip. I recaptured the “how hard can it be” attitude and attacked the issue of driving. Again, it was YouTube videos to the rescue. So, for the most remote part of our trip, I did rent and drive a car and yes, everything was on the wrong side. And, yes, I did have an accident, but it was not the worst-case scenario I had rehearsed. I scraped up the car trying to pass another car on a ridiculously narrow country lane. The irony of the act that I scratched the car along a stone wall while trying to find the home of my stone-mason is not lost on me. But, I did avoid hitting the other car and we had gotten all the available damage waivers, so nobody got hurt and I did not go to jail. It could have been a lot worse.
So, how hard can it be? Far stupider people than I have done it. These are the things I tell myself. I read badly written books and think, if they got published than surely, I can too, right? These things are easier said than done sometimes. I know that better than anyone. I’ve fought my share of battles against depression, anxiety, and negativity. I fight them almost every day.
But today, I encourage you to look on the bright side. Rehearse for success, not failure. I’ll keep reminding you if you’ll keep reminding me. Instead of asking, what could go wrong, let’s ask what could go right? Who knows what we could all accomplish if we could sustain belief in ourselves. And check YouTube. There’s probably a helpful video for you.
Write on. I know I’m going to.