Recently I found a copy of “The Magic of Believing” by Claude Bristol. It was written in 1991, but I had never read it before. One phrase, in particular, stood out: thoughts have power.
We know we can talk ourselves into (or out of) doing something. We can use our thoughts (and our self-talk) to bolster our confidence or undermine our efforts. While most of us can’t actually project our thought power and manipulate others (or a ouija board) simply with our minds, we can project certain messages by our demeanor and expressions.
Regardless, we should never underestimate the impact of our thoughts. If you have been told something since you were a child, you have probably encased those words in a thought made of steel. It may seem almost impossible to bend or discard it. You hear it in your head time after time. For example, suppose a teacher or parent repeatedly identified you as a poor test taker. Every time an exam was put in front of you, that “poor test taker” thought was foremost in your mind. It did have a power over you, and that thought transformed itself into an action, a self-fulfilling prophecy of poor test performance.
As you became a professional, other negative thoughts may have been added to that steel thought prison—things like, “I’m not a good public speaker,” or “I’m not very quick on my feet,” or “I can’t understand this budget,” or “I can’t ask for a raise.” When you hear yourself ceding power to a negative thought at work, take it out of that box and examine it more closely. Write it down. Decide if it is actually true or is it simply an excuse? Are you afraid to try or simply too lazy to prove it wrong? Do you feel comfortable with it because you are used to it being there in certain situations? Do you want to change it, prove it wrong, and take away its power? Or not?
Thought change takes insight and effort, even courage. It also takes practice and determination. Yes, thoughts do have some power, but you are in control of your thoughts, and you have the power to stop them, revise them, and replace them. It’s really not magic.