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“This makes no sense to me”. “I don’t understand it and I can’t do it”.
I started going to swimming classes last summer. I was fed up with living on an island and not knowing how to swim. After years of being thrown into pools by my maniac friends, I built up quite a fear of the deep end.
This particular day was the worst session ever. I was trying to swim from the deep to the shallow. Each time it would start well. I would swim like a raving lunatic across the deep end but I got too tired midway (conveniently after the danger of the deep) and I couldn’t complete the lap. I was getting flustered and my coach could see it.
My coach was no longer a human being. It seemed to me that he had transcended into an amphibious creature. He was in his early 90s but swam like he was in his 20s. He propped himself up against the pool ladder and waved me over. Then he said something to me that was very peculiar.
He said “If you ever want to swim properly you need to learn that you don’t swim with your arms stroking through the water… And you don’t swim by kicking your feet.” I thought to myself, “This poor old man, he must be going senile, is this what they call dementia?”
“You swim with your brain”, he said.
I looked at him, clearly concerned for his mental health and replied, “That doesn’t make sense”.
“Well here’s an example. I can bet you that just now you were not thinking about completing the lap. Were you? What were you thinking about?” I confessed I was worrying about getting across the deep end before I ran out of air. “Exactly! If you were thinking about completing the lap, you would have.”
I tried it. I realised I had more than enough breath for one and a half laps across the pool! I left that class with a cup overflowing with pride and energy, a body with countless sore muscles and a valuable lesson:
I took that lesson and I started to observe my thoughts and the language and habits of my friends. I realized that just like my thinking had prevented me from swimming well, so did the thinking of my best friend, help him have one of the worst years in his life.
Negative Positive Thought?
In his final year at university, he had some of the worst luck with his car. He was always getting into accidents. One day, after his latest fender-bender, he said to me “I can’t believe this is happening! The more I think about NOT getting into accidents, the more of a crash-magnet I become.”
Just like I was fixated on not running out of air, he was fixated on not getting into accidents. But let me show you what the brain sees instead: getting into accidents!
It’s a psychological process known as Ironic Process Theory. It says that thinking something in the negative, has the same effect on your brain as if you said it in the positive. Basically, if someone says to you DO NOT think about a pink elephant, your brain is already thinking of the pink elephant before you can stop yourself.
So my best pal’s brain processed that he was gung-ho for accidents and made it happen. What would have happened if he thought instead: I will drive more carefully? Who knows?
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” – Henry Ford
Put in the work
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” – James 2:26
The superpower of thought is amazing at conjuring the items you want or the circumstances you want to be in, but it’s useless if you aren’t doing anything to make it happen.
Here is the easiest way to get nothing you really want: close your eyes and tell yourself over and over in your mind that you want it. That’s it. Do nothing else, but that, for the rest of your life. You may know people who sit on their hands and wait for the world to come and hand them a million dollars. They say “this is my time, I will be rich”, and do not much else with themselves. They get out what they put in… absolutely zilch.
You may have already heard the tale of a man who was trapped on his roof because there was a rising flood that swallowed everything in sight. He begged his higher power for rescue and remained steadfast in his conviction, turning down all those who came to save him.
The man died and went to heaven and asked his creator “why did you not rescue me?” and his creator said, well I did send you several of my agents…
When you really want something, and that want is so strong that it transforms into a need, use every opportunity you come across to make it happen. Don’t wait for a perfect set of circumstances, or an ideal that was crafted in your head. Do something today.
What is something you have a burning desire to do? Do you want to take your parents to Disney land, all expenses paid as a token of your appreciation? Do you want to talk to that special someone in your office? What is it? Tell me in the comments and tell me 1 thing you are going to do today to take you 1 step closer to turning your desire into reality.
I’d love to hear what you think of this post. Please give me your honest feedback in the comments.
Image source: Unsplash
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