Be Careful What You Wish For: How Your Thinking Can Hold You Back

purseHave you ever searched for a missing ‘everyday item’ like your keys or your glasses? You checked in your purse, doubting they would be there, and of course they weren’t. But after you looked everywhere else they could possibly be, you went back to your purse and – lo and behold – they were right there the whole time. I know I’ve had this experience several times, and I couldn’t understand it at first. But I had another seemingly unrelated experience that helped me understand exactly what happened here…

I go to the store to find a replacement brush head for my electric toothbrush. Have you been through the toothbrush aisle lately? I was overwhelmed by the amount of choices. I just stand there for a moment, staring at the wall of brushes. Finally, I snap out of the trance and start looking at the packages, trying to find the right brush for not only my brand but also my model – because the same brand makes different models and their replacement brushes are not compatible. It’s exasperating. Finally, I find the right one – it says on the package that it will fit my toothbrush, so I buy it and bring it home.

I get home, open the package, try to put the brush head on my toothbrush and, aaarrrrgggghhhh – it won’t fit. I twist and turn it – no luck. Now I’m beyond frustrated. I go back to the package and I read it again. It clearly states my brand and model number as being compatible. Oh, okay then. I try it again, push it down hard, and guess what…it fits!

What happened in both of the experiences? My mind was playing tricks on me. Just like your mind plays tricks on you. You see, our beliefs create our reality. In the first experience, I believed the keys couldn’t possibly be in purse, and my mind wanted to make me right, so when I looked, they were not there. After I checked everywhere else, I started to believe that they might be in my purse after all – and there they were. In the second example, I had trouble putting the brush head on the toothbrush – until I read the package again, which removed any doubt that it was the right one.

I share these experiences with you because I believe they are simple examples of how powerful our beliefs are. They truly shape our experience of reality. We get what we expect. If we expect the worse, if we doubt things will work out, if we believe we won’t get what we want – that’s exactly what will happen –  and our mind will smugly say, “I knew it all along”.  Some people call these self-fulfilling prophecies. Others use the saying, “Be careful what you wish for”.

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” ― Napoleon Hill

So, can we get what we want by simply believing we can? I think we can get much closer to success if that’s what we expect. We all have self-limiting beliefs that are holding us back, whether they are around money, relationships, or success. The trick is to become aware of these self-limiting beliefs, because they often work in the background (like a virus on the computer). Then delete them and install more empowering ones. For example, change “I always have the worse luck” to “Things always seem to work out for the best for me”. Let’s open up the conversation – what do you think? How are your beliefs creating your reality?

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This post has 10 comments

  • Twila Gore Peck says:

    Lots of time that voice in the head isn’t your own voice, but a parent’s, teacher’s, sibling’s, spouse’s, etc….
    Sometimes that voice even comes out of your own mouth, criticizing another person the same way you yourself have been criticized in the past.
    It helps a great deal if you can identify the voices, sort them out, and decide which ones are worth listening to — and especially to identify, and listen to, your own. I have spent too much of my life being other people, because of their voices in my head
    (All of a sudden this sounds spooky! But you know what I mean!)

  • elfrieda guenther says:

    yes twila right on! but i love seeing helens blog on my screen. it puts the right voice in my head, so i look at something from her each day + then i get on with it. also recently walked the camino in spain+ refocused those thoughts.( by the way, helen. did i encounter you on the e rail, from barcelona?)

    • Aw, thanks so much for that Elfrieda. It was particularly challenging to get the message out today (I’m pretty sure the universe was testing me), so it’s rewarding for me to know that it’s worth the effort. Congrats on walking the camino – you’re amazing – what an accomplishment! No, it wasn’t me you encountered…perhaps one of my many ‘twin souls’ around the world 🙂

  • SLG says:

    Thank you Hellen for reminding me of this. However, since my job was outsourced to he U.S. and after obtaining a 2 year diploma at Sheridan College, I still have not landed a job, it is hard to stay positive. Please share anything you can around this subject. I am volunteering and have great reference letters. That being said, it is very, very difficult getting interviews in today’s environment. I apply online daily, I volunteer, I am networking so I thought I was doing everything according to advise from college professors, etc. I really appreciate your email today as I am starting to lose confidence. Appreciate it.

    • Hi SLG, thanks so much for sharing. I’m glad that the email gave you some strength to keep trying. You are doing so many things right and I encourage you to persist – the right job will find you. And I want you to do one more thing that I feel will really help: I invite you to read your comment again (perhaps out loud) to see if you can spot the one belief that may be holding you back. It jumped right out at me and I couldn’t ignore it.

    • Sher says:

      SLG, You are right and I’m in the same boat as you are. In assessing my situation and seeking a different (helpful?) viewpoint, I went to a trusted academic adviser who told me to “quit whining” and that I was basically asking too much (a job with benefits? Really?). I think you have to be very very careful who you share with and most importantly, stop telling yourself how hard it is and that you’re losing your confidence. So tell yourself-really the only adviser you need-that you are a dynamic learner, go-getter, and persistent job seeker who can and will find opportunities. Hard? Yes. Impossible? No. One day at a time and BTW, I’ll do the same. We can do this! 🙂 P.S., Hellen is one of those I listen to but the other person is off my radar-negativity is like a virus and I don’t want to catch it! Keep up the good work, OK?

  • Arlyn says:

    Nope. It’s the poltergeists. They move things around so I can’t find them.

    But seriously, thanks for the positive words! It’s so nice to read motivational thoughts.

  • sylvie says:

    Like Sher said a different view can totally help. For over 1 year, I so wanted this one position at my work. There was a hiring freeze. Meanwhile, I was stuck in a job that was not at all reflective of my interests, with a boss whom I felt was non supportive, compensated for her lack of skills by using others as scapegoats and worse, lacked integrity. I felt hopeless and stressed out. Finally I decided I wanted something different. So everyday… as often as I could (probably an average of 40 times) when I had set backs as well as when I felt good ( like having that first sip of a really good coffee) or watching my favorite sit come, laughing with colleagues… I would repeat loud (if I could without anyone noticing) or loud in my mind… I am so grateful and excited now that I have the best job and best boss. Every free moment in my mind, went to imagining my current boss happy … I imagined the back of my hands pushing the door and walking to the desk in the position I wanted and working with the best boss. On day 21 still nothing… and I remember thinking, maybe I should just accept this is the best job and best boss for me. As I walked in, a colleague came to meet me all excited… my boss was transfering to another department. A better boss was taking her place. A few days later the hiring freeze was lifted… I applied and got my dream job with the best boss I had ever worked for. I say had… because my husband and I ended up moving, but even today… I still manage to find the best jobs working for the best bosses. 🙂 Good luck SLG… hope this helps.

  • Maureen says:

    Thank you Hellen. It’s so good to see that you are human an you can have a rough day yet be able to chuckle at your own expense. That is what I find truly inspiring about you.

    My other true inspiration (my mother) passed away 20 years ago. I miss her dearly but on a daily basis I hear her words in my head. She truly believed that the mind and strength of will was a mighty warrior and you “can accomplish anything your heart desires if you put your mind to it”.

    “If you don’t mind, it won’t matter” was her favorite expression. Even near the end she tried to forget the suffering her cancer was causing her and focused instead on enjoying the time she had left with her family and cuddling her newborn grandson (my son) who she called her “bright spot” because he brightened her day.

    Not once during her illness did I ever hear her say “why me?” or hear her feel sorry for herself. She just dealt with each day and its struggles as they came and met each adversity with a smile.

    Whenever I am faced with adversity and negative thoughts enter my mind I do my best to push out the negativity with the memories of her smile and her strength.

    Growing up, she was my biggest cheerleader. Whenever life tripped me up, she was always there with a smile, a cup of tea and a saying that made me feel better. Whenever I am faced with adversity and negative thoughts enter my mind, I do my best to push out the negativity with the memories of her smile and her strength … I can only hope that someday my own children and grandchildren will say the same thing about me 🙂

    So SLG – put your mind to it. Yes the job market is tough right now, yes it’s hard to get an interview – but you can do it!!! Make up your mind what you want to do and go out there and do it!!! Don’t just apply on-line …market yourself and be persistent!! Volunteering is a great start -tell everyone you meet what you want to do and ask their suggestions on how to do it. The best jobs are not advertised, they are found through word of mouth. If you go out there with self-assurance and determination, you will get noticed and good things will happen for you – guaranteed!

  • Lisa Nichols says:

    I appreciate the genuine comments and insights from everyone. As a seasoned person (is 54 old?) my work and personal experiences mirror all that I’ve read. Been there trying to find the “perfect” job. Opened a company but still no “perfect fit”. What did change was the sifting through of what the term “perfect” meant. To me it’s clarity of mind; decision making with the thought that if it’s not working in one area of my life right now, then make a decision and move on in another area. Besides why would I want to have everything moving forward in all areas at the same time. Not enough time. Re the voices of others instead of my own. Took a lot of internal strength to accept that my voice is the only one that matters, that to be authentic means to keep my own power and in my case, not be guilted into another’s agenda. A classic middle child with parents who should have divorced and two siblings that were the golden ones. Note the sarcasm. Great site, Helen.