How much power is there in positive thinking? Until recently, I never put much stock in it. I, perhaps cynically, just assumed that things were the way they were, or turned out the way they were going to turn out, no matter how I felt or what I thought about them. But I am becoming more open to the possibility that I was wrong.
A few weeks ago, I was in the middle of a particularly intense workout, and it hurt, and I wanted to give up. My trainer got in my face and screamed: “come on!!!! Your body can do more than you think it can! You’re body can do more than you think it can!” And I didn’t know whether he was right or not, but I kept going. Before he started screaming, all I knew was that my body hurt and that it would feel good to stop. That feeling intensified until I seriously started to question whether my body could keep going. But then that affirmation got in my brain, and my brain decided to believe it, and I kept going. And I “won.”
Obviously, there are limits. No matter how much I believe I can lift an airplane, I can’t lift an airplane. Right? So it seems like there has to be some middle ground. There are things you definitely can do (pick up a paper clip) and things you definitely can’t do (lift an airplane). But then there is some middle ground (bench press twice your body weight), and maybe positive thinking can put you over the top.
In another example that perhaps sheds additional light, or comes at it from a different perspective, I recently had a job interview. And I don’t know what it was, but I knew I was going to get the job. Before I even went to the interview. Before I met anyone. Before I answered a single question. And I did get the job. What is that? Was I momentarily psychic? Was it just wishful thinking? Is it just a coincidence? I don’t know.
I could sit right here and think right now, really concentrate, as hard as I could, on winning the lottery. Would that work? I don’t think it would. And that would be different than the interview thing. It wasn’t some internal pep-talk (“You can do this, Dunce Two. You’re going to get this!”). It was just a sure knowledge, almost like it had nothing to do with me. This contirbuted to my positive thinking, but I don’t know that it merely was positive thinking.
Can we do this? Can we so convince ourselves that something can be that it transitions from a desire to a knowledge? Can you apply the “interview phenomenon” to other situations? Or did this have nothing to do with me? Is this just the way it is sometimes?
They do a lot of positive thinking and visualization in sports. You picture yourself sailing over the hurdles, crossing the finish line, winning the fight. If you picture it, and then it happens, I can see the value in that. But what happens if you trip over the hurdle, don’t make it to the finish line, get knocked out in the first round? What does that do to your attitude about positive thinking? Do you visualize again next time? Do you believe in what you are doing? Or is it just like “what’s the point?”
Quitters never win, I do know that. You can’t win if you don’t play, and you can’t win if you quit before you’ve won. But winners never…what? They don’t quit, I know that, but do they never contemplate quitting? Contemplate losing? Do they go through life with the assurance that they will win, and then win, or die trying. What does a winner, that has visualized winning, do when he loses? Think when he loses?
Is there any value in pure positive thinking? Does it change anything?