How to do the impossible
August 16th, 2012 by Briana Cummings
I keep reading and hearing that the things I want to do as a lawyer are impossible: Open my own practice straight out of law school. Offer affordable legal services to low- and middle-income clients while supporting my heavily debt-laden self financially. Raise a family while maintaining a thriving career. Any number of things, really.
It is sometimes hard not to listen. Even if I shrug it off at a conscious level, deep down in my bones is a terror that keeps me up at night. It is all well and good to go through law school and job interviews talking about one’s interest in providing legal services to people who need them blablabla. But when you sit down to try to define concrete actionable steps toward that goal, you start to realize you have no idea what you are doing.
But I—you—can’t listen. Don’t listen to the voices that say it’s impossible. Even your own.
It is impossible to do something if we believe it is impossible.
Conversely, believing that something is possible is a very powerful tool in making it come about. The self-fulfilling prophecy is a very real phenomenon.
Think about it this way: You cannot consciously monitor your every action, but if you monitor your thoughts and beliefs, these will automatically guide your actions. This is why psychiatrist Blase Harris advises,
Be aware of your own thoughts and visualizations. They can determine the course of your life.
To do something you fear is impossible, you need to overcome the fear, by reprogramming your subconscious.
(1) Replace self-sabotaging thoughts (“I’m not worthy,” “This will never work”) with confident thoughts.
(2) Picture yourself succeeding at the thing you are trying to achieve. Great athletes use this trick all the time. In order to make that goal or shot or home run, they first envision themselves making the goal or shot or home run. Try to envision a scene from your life in which you felt really confident.
(3) Remember that every great innovation started out with someone imagining it out of nothing. You too can make something happen by first imagining it. Every great inventor has faced detractors and naysayers. If you encounter detractors and naysayers along your own path, don’t let it discourage you. It goes without saying that people are usually more impressed by completed achievements and paths that have already proved successful than by new untested ventures. You must believe in yourself; do not rely on others to do so.
No man can humiliate me or disturb me. I won’t let him.
These are the words of Bernard Baruch, adviser to Presidents Wilson, Harding, Coolidge, Hoover, Roosevelt, and Truman. Don’t let others discourage you.
Certainly listen to the valid caution and skepticism voiced by others, but don’t let it deter you from your goals – or even necessarily from your planned approach to achieving your goals. Always make your own analysis of their views and your own decisions. Lest you fear that an incessant internal monologue of “I am wonderful and I can make this happen!” makes you delusionally self-confident, just remind yourself that if you find that what you are doing isn’t working, you’ll learn from that and change course. One can be optimistic and persistent without being out of touch, naive, or “idealistic” (a word that seems to have become pejorative these days). And one can be negative without being realistic.