The box arrived in my driveway exactly when it was supposed to, except I wasn’t expecting a box, I was expecting a chair. I was alarmed to discover my chair, the chair I ordered, had been put in a box; a box considerably smaller than the chair I was expecting. I was annoyed. I shoved the box in the garage and walked around it for two weeks. Every day I said to myself, “I cannot assemble this chair” because I am not that kind of person, you know, the handy kind. I thought, if I did manage to put it together, it would probably collapse. But I needed this chair, to sit at my new desk. I was irritated with the box. I just wanted a “put together” chair, not a “do it yourself” chair. Grrrrrr.
Well into the 3rd week of walking around the box, I finally accepted that I had to put this chair together. So, I decided to try a different approach. I reminded myself that my “learned helplessness” attitude was defeating me. I heard about “learned helplessness” from John and Henry and I clearly had a bad case of it. But if I learned it, I could learn something new, right? It was time for new self-talk. I was going to be positive. So, the “new positive attitude me” decided I was not going to be defeated by a box/chair any longer. I was absolutely, positively going to assemble this chair. If it collapsed, then I would call someone to help. “I can do this,” I said to myself. And I said it for a few days and then I actually began to believe it. I dragged the box into the house, opened the box, dumped it all on the floor, read the instructions, laid out the pieces and began. And do you know what? 30 minutes later I had an actual chair! Not one stray nut or screw left on the floor. I sat in it and it held. And the best part, this chair has been holding me up for 8 years. Since then, I have assembled desks, bookshelves, hung curtain rods and the list goes on. What? I am a handy person! Who knew?
So, what happened? I believed that I couldn’t do it, and my negative self-talk reinforced what I believed. And then it hit me, my attitude was not helping me try new things and stretch outside of my comfort zone. I had been positive I couldn’t do something until I decided I could. Changing my attitude and believing I could do it made the difference. Putting that chair together was a great lesson.
How we think, the attitude we adopt determines how we approach life and challenges. You have heard this famous quote from Henry Ford, “If you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.” It’s true. I have heard Henry & John say this during the life-coaching workshop, Empower Now. I discovered I had a bad case of “learned helplessness”. Since then I have begun rewiring my brain with new ideas and attitudes. So many of us fail before we even start because of our faulty, negative thinking. We need to begin to believe we can and then try. Being positive you can do something, is half of the battle. It starts in your mind.
Are you thinking negatively about a challenge? If so, negativity could be a pattern that could be affecting other areas of your life too. We can be our own worst critics. Take some time and write down what you believe about yourself. We are not always in touch with reality when it comes to ourselves. Find out what reality is. Get others involved in helping you become more realistic and positive about your potential and your abilities. Say you can. My guess is you will begin to become more positive about many areas of life. I look at that chair every time I begin to think something is too hard or difficult and it reminds me, the only thing stopping me is me.
There is power in being positive. Try it!