By Joyce Alexander, RNP (retired)
“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)
I was watching the movie Iron Lady today and a few lines of the character Margaret Thatcher jumped out at me and made me think of that verse above from the Bible. Here are the lines from Mrs. Thatcher, as she was speaking with her physician.
Watch your thoughts
for they become words,
Watch your words
for they become your actions,
Watch your actions
For they become your habits
Watch your habits
for they become your character
Watch your character
for it becomes your destiny
What we think we become.
How many times do we prove those words, originally attributed to the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, to be true? How many times do our “self-fulfilling prophecies” become reality because we thought something bad was going to happen. Or we thought we were going to fail, and we failed.
Attitude is so important in how our lives go. How we think is instrumental in what we can accomplish, or fail to accomplish.
The balky mule
I may have told this story before, and if I have, please forgive me, but it bears repeating. My grandfather was very poor during the Depression and he had to buy mules that others either couldn’t handle, because they were dangerous or in some way impaired, but they were cheap to purchase. My grandfather was sort of a “mule whisperer,” and could “psych-out” these mules and get them to work for him.
He bought one mare mule that would “balk,” which was refusing to pull. My grandfather knew why horses or mules would “balk;” it was from poor training. They were hooked up to loads that were too heavy to pull, and then when they tried their best, they couldn’t do it. The trainer would whip them even though they were doing their best, and they would fail to move the load. They were convinced that they could not pull any load, so would not even try. They would “balk” (not try), and then just stand there and take the whipping they knew was coming. It was “trained failure.” They knew in their hearts that they could not pull the load, so they gave up.
This particular mare mule only balked at the foot of a hill, so my grandfather figured that she had been whipped because she was hooked to a load she could pull on the level, but not up a hill. So as they traveled along the first day when they approached the bottom of a hill where he figured she would stop and balk, he said “Whoa!” and stopped her before she stopped herself. Then he got out, whistling and happy, petted her on the neck, adjusted the harness a bit and then got back into the wagon and said, “get up” and she did. She never balked again. He had shown her that she didn’t have to take a whipping and that she could pull the wagon up the hill because he would not over load her. It was his idea to stop, not hers.
If you think you can, or think you can’t
Our own attitudes about what we can pull in the way of a “load” are partly determined (if not fully determined) by our own attitudes.
As the Bible says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” If we think we are weak and unimportant, then we become that. If we think we are strong and can over come obstacles, leap tall buildings with a single bound and be faster than a speeding bullet, then we can be.
We all find ourselves thinking “negative thoughts” once in a while, feeling down, and telling ourselves we are going to fail. When you find yourself thinking those thoughts, scream to yourself, “STOP!” Then reverse that thinking, and think “I CAN overcome this problem. I can succeed. I WILL succeed.” Then go out and do it!