Sometimes we feel bad about the path we are on, and we want to create a new path for ourselves. But we feel discouraged and don’t know how.
We might not like the path we are on for a variety of different reasons. For example, perhaps we feel like we are not a very good person or that we have bad habits. Or perhaps we don’t feel good about our current lot in life. And we dream of living a life in which we feel great about who we are, the life we live, and the dreams we want to accomplish.
But maybe we feel like it is impossible. And maybe other people tell us or make us feel like it is impossible. We might feel like believing in new possibilities is irrational and fueled by silly positive thinking. By the way, I sympathize with all these feelings because I have felt them before.
But if you will permit me, I would like to be your cheerleader today.
I want to remind you that you are worthy, capable, connected, and called to adventure. If you would like to read more about this, see this post: Better Than Positive Thinking: Resilient Thinking
Because this is true, you have amazing internal and external resources (even ones you are not fully aware of) to help you change and create a new path for yourself. You can read more about this here:
But how do we change? One of the most powerful things we can do when we want to create a new path is to change the way we speak to ourselves.
For example, there is a common self-defeating cycle we get stuck in sometimes. We want to change something about our life. Such desired changes often grow out of a dream that excites us. For example, maybe we want to walk more. Or run a 5k. Or achieve some financial goal.
But then we say, “I can’t do that.” For example, we might tell ourselves, “I’ll never run a 5k.” Or we might tell ourselves, “I can never get what I want.” And then we feel sad and discouraged, and we stop thinking about our goal because we feel like we can never do it.
If you are anything like me, in paying attention to your thoughts, you will discover you telling yourself what you can’t do or what can’t happen quite a bit. And if you pay attention to your feelings when you say such things to yourself, you will likely find that you cause yourself a lot of pain. For instance, you might notice your own spirit wilting at the things you tell yourself. Or you may find yourself growing anxious, depressed, and discouraged.
I would like to invite you to a different path.
What if instead of telling yourself the things you want will never happen, you started using your imagination like when you were a child? And what if you spoke to yourself like your goal was already accomplished?
For instance, if you want to run a 5k, what if you started saying, “I am a runner”?
Or if your finances are stressing you out and you want to be a better money manager, what if you said, “I am an effective money manager”?
Or if you want to get along better with your partner, what if you said “I have a loving relationship”?
Why would I even suggest talking like this to yourself?
Well, If you are like me, you can probably remember a time that a teacher, coach, friend, or loved one made a big difference in your life by encouraging you. When people use their words to connect with our potential (our higher selves), they bring magic into our lives. The cool thing is that we can become our own best teacher, coach, friend, or loved one. In doing so, we bring this same magic into our life.
We do this first by imagining what we want to be or do and then speaking to ourselves like we have accomplished our goal. Here’s one way I have been practicing this in my own life lately: How I Accidentally Became a Runner
By the way, when you use your imagination this way, you want to use phrases you believe or that excite you. For example, if you don’t believe or feel excited about the phrase, “I am a runner”, change the phrase. Say, “I am a walker.” Or “I know how to run more easily”. Or “I move more easily”.
Sometimes we must take small steps in improving the way we speak to ourselves. For instance, you may have been saying discouraging things to yourself for a long time. And if this is the case, you might need to start with small steps. As another example, if saying, “I am an effective money manager” feels silly or untrue, start with something smaller. Say, “I am willing to learn cool things about money”. Or try saying, “I know I have the ability to feel excited about money.” Choose any phrase, no matter how small a positive change it represents. You are the boss, so choose words that excite you and give you hope.
And please choose phrases that are kind and loving to both yourself and others.
For example, if you say things like “I crush all my competition” or “I make everyone fall in love with me”, you may indeed achieve the things you say. But in doing so, you harm other people because you treat them like objects and try to control them. This separates you from them. That will eventually lead you to loneliness and despair. So, choose phrases that bring good things into both your life and the world in general. Because that connects you to others and helps you feel more love. And love is what we need and want the most.
When we speak positive things to ourselves as if they are accomplished, we create a new path. That’s because we open a space to think differently. And we kindle our imagination to imagine a different world. By the way, this is what we did when we were little and said things like “I am an artist” or “I am a policeman”. And then we acted out our imagination. And in doing so, we gained new skills and ideas. And those skills and ideas eventually helped us accomplish our dreams, even if those dreams turned out differently from how we originally imagined them.
And if you are like me, you might find yourself feeling very skeptical about all this For instance, you might be saying something like this right about now:
“This won’t change anything. It’s not like saying things makes the world change suddenly.”
“This sounds like a bunch of positive thinking tomfoolery.
I get this because I felt this way for most of my life. You can read more about this here:
But I would ask you to consider that what we want most is hope and to feel better our life. And in fact, we often want these feelings more than drastic change. That’s because if things changed drastically but we didn’t feel hope or feel better, we would still want to feel hope and to feel better.
And I would ask you to consider that whenever we speak words to ourselves that feel exiting and true, we give ourselves hope. And we feel better. We create a new path for ourselves and begin to imagine new possibilities. Imagination is for grown-ups, too.
You can read more about using your imagination here: How to Use Your Imagination Like a Boss.
The Buddha tells us that our thoughts shape our experience. So, when we have bright, clear thoughts, this increases our well-being. You can read more about this in the next section.
By the way, it is a common idea in major religious or philosophical systems that the way we speak to ourselves matters.
For instance, Proverbs 23:7 says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” The context of this scripture pertains to someone who acts hospitably to others but is the exact opposite in his inner thoughts. The point is, our thoughts eventually affect what happens on the outside of us.
The Buddha says, “Phenomena are preceded by the heart, ruled by the heart, made of the heart. If you speak or act with a corrupted heart, then suffering follows you — as the wheel of the cart, the track of the ox that pulls it. Phenomena are preceded by the heart, ruled by the heart, made of the heart. If you speak or act with a calm, bright heart, then happiness follows you, like a shadow that never leaves.” Buddha suggests that our thoughts (how we speak internally) can increase our suffering or make us happy.
The ancient Stoic Epictetus reminds us that some things are in our control and some things are not.
If we obsess over things we cannot control, we cause ourselves a lot of pain. But if we focus on things we can control, we make our life more peaceful. One of the things we can control is the way we think and speak about the events in our life, as well as how we speak about our future possibilities.
Please speak magic into your own life, Friend.