“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.” — Henry Ford
Henry Ford was ahead of his time in more than just the automotive industry. This simple, yet powerful quote, encapsulates the entire philosophy of cognitive behavioral therapy and the entire concept of the power of positive thinking.
In psychotherapy work, we often look closely at our thoughts and see how they contribute to our actions and behavior. The action or behavior we take can create a certain perception and some believe this can imprint a change on a cellular level. Our thoughts are very powerful and can create a loop of positive or negative experiences in our lives.
For example, if we think we’re incapable of being on time, our behavior that comes from that thought might be always arriving late. This behavior creates a perception not only that people have of us, but also one we have of ourselves. This thought, behavior and perception might result, for example, in a release of stress hormones when we’re running late; a cellular change that occurs within our physiology based on the thought that we are incapable of being on time.
It’s pretty powerful to think that cortisol, for example, could be released into our system when we’re stressed and that we could trace it back to the inception of a thought or belief we have about ourselves. This concept of the power of positive thinking isn’t a new one, but it can be difficult to remain consistent with putting it into practice.
As a therapist, I hear people who sometimes reach a “block” or are feeling “stuck.” When this happens, or when I hear someone going around and around an issue without knowing why, I sometimes ask them something very simple about what they believe. “What do you believe will happen to you?” “What is your belief about the potential of a successful outcome of … a future job, a future relationship, or an upcoming transition, etc.”
Chances are when we’re stuck, we have not yet moved into the frame of visualizing a positive outcome.
We’re “stuck” in the belief that it may not work out for us, or we’re “stuck” in hearing either our own or someone else’s negative influence of doubt or disbelief. Or we’re “stuck” in the frame of thinking that something is out of our reach or potential and we don’t put much energy into it and consequently, it fails.
Pay close attention to your thoughts. Stop and notice what it is you really believe. What are you visualizing about your future or your life in general? We could all take a page from Henry Ford’s book and begin integrating the idea that our mind carries a very powerful potential to create a belief about what is possible.
Sometimes when things feel impossible, we just might need a new angle to see the problem or a new way to reframe our thoughts, because ultimately whether we think we can, or think we can’t, we’re right.