In the story of the little engine that could the train engine keeps repeating a mantra: “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” This motivational story has applications even for adults. If something seems too hard, or a task appears insurmountable you need to tell yourself “I think I can.” If you are in the habit of saying “It’s too hard” you train your mind to immediately shut down when the going gets tough.
This mental attitude of perceiving things as being too hard to handle pervades our culture today. If your marriage is too hard, just get a divorce. If your job is too, hard find ways to cut corners and do the least amount of work possible. Losing weight is way too hard, but don’t worry there are pills for that!
Situations appear difficult because of a number of factors. Some of those factors are external, but many of them are internal attitudes or ways of perceiving difficulties. These factors are controlled by you, and if you master them you can conquer almost anything that comes your way. Here are some examples of factors that are determined by you. I realize these are very broad terms and can have different meanings when it comes to various difficulties (work, relationships, learning, etc.) but the basic concepts are the same.
1-Your Attitude: Your attitude about a situation determines your thought processes and reactions to new events. Do you approach problems with a can-do attitude, or do you see them as the world screwing you over? Everything you do in life is a chance to learn. If you see your difficulties-whatever they may be-as learning experiences, you have taken the first step to battling the attitude of “too hard.”
2-Your Approach: Take a second and evaluate your methods of dealing with hard tasks, difficult relationships, etc. Do you get mad? Internalize everything? Do you think about things logically or use emotion to guide your decisions? Ask yourself: Is there anything I can be doing differently here? A better way? Experimenting with different ways of solving problems is a good way to expand your practical knowledge and can make you more adaptable as new situations arise.
3-Your Supporters: Do others support you in your endeavors? If you have a group of friends, a significant other, or a mentor you have a great resource for problem solving. Your support group can give you encouragement, advice, help, and be a stress reliever for you. If you don’t have a supporter in your endeavors it is easy to fall into a negative mindset and give up on what you are trying to accomplish. Find a supporter who you can rely on and share your difficulties with. It will make a huge difference.
4-The Meta-game: Similarly to seeing your difficulties as learning experiences, you should also look beyond the current cause and effect to the “meta” reason for the hardship. For example: Your girlfriend asks you to give up smoking, your parents demand a better grade in school, or you are finding it hard to pay all your bills. Looking beyond the surface of these problems can bring out a whole new meaning to them. Your girlfriend wants to improve your health, and you can also show your commitment to your relationship by doing what she asks. Despite your parent’s motives for wanting you to have a better grade, you can take it as a challenge to expand your mind, learn a hard work ethic, and make your parents proud. If paying all your bills is getting difficult, perhaps it is a wakeup call to reduce your consumption and debt fueled spending. By looking at your problems in this way you can find a greater meaning to them and put them in a positive light, making it easier to tackle them.
Life is a bitch sometimes, there isn’t any denying it. But it has been that way for a long time and everyone faces obstacles and difficulties. The great men and women of history faced them and many conquered. You can too. All it takes is the right attitude, a good approach, the support of loved ones and friends, and looking ahead at the big picture. If you can get those down pat, you will be surprised what you can accomplish.