Remember that saying, “You can do anything you set your mind to?” Well there’s a reason why it’s a saying. I truly believe that the idea of mind over matter exists and is living under our very own noses. There is a science behind it (as we are dealing with the human brain here) and studies that show that we have the ability to train our minds to improve the human condition or, in other words, train our minds to adjust the perspective of the matter around us. The more we learn about the unknowns that have not yet been established in the mainstream or that we are too scared to believe (or maybe we just think it’s too woo-woo), the less closed off our minds become; people are afraid to explore the unknown for it’s hard to accept ideas different from the ones we already hold. This right here – the unknown – is just one simple roadblock we can remove from unlocking our ultimate potential. That is, our highest, happiest, most confident and resilient selves.
Have you ever been in a tough situation, whether it was school, job, fitness, family, money related etc.? By default do you feel hopeless, frustrated or maybe you repeat to yourself over and over again, “ugh. I can’t do this,“”this sucks,“”there is no way I’m going to make the deadline,“”I give up. I quit”. I know I’ve been there. Many times. And that’s totally normal; we’re human and it’s inevitable that the sun simply cannot shine every day. While we may not be able to control the weather, we can control our mindsets and once you are able to acknowledge that, well my friends, right there is the spark to the fire of your life. Imagine it is pouring rain. Will it be the end all to your daily plans? Will it throw a wrench in something you were looking forward to?: This is where mind over matter comes into play. How do you choose to stand at the window and view the raindrops coming roaring down from the sky? The solution is simple. Mind. Over. Matter. Use the infinite capabilities of your mind to direct your focus, not on the fact that the weather is quintessentially bollocks, but on the many theoretical doors you can open; the opportunity to be creative, to manifest your own sunshine and to passionately follow the path that was once unknown to you before the rainfall. This method can truly be applied to more than just the weather. Try it out on the many ups and downs in your life.
The very first time I stumbled upon this method and learned how to turn a not-so-perfect situation into something surprisingly rewarding was my lead performance in a play when I was 14 years old. For starters, it was just utterly unlike me to get up on a stage in front of not only 1 person but many people and put myself in a vulnerable position. I was terrified and didn’t think I would be able to make it through my solo song without messing up or making a fool of myself or simply staring blankly into the shining light beaming down on my face while the track waited for me to get my shit together. Whilst I was a miserable ball of nerves, my mom sat me down a few days before my first show and said, “Em, remember these simple words: mind over matter, mind over matter. Tell yourself that you can do this. That you will succeed. And imagine yourself embodying the most ideal version of yourself on that big, bright stage.”
At my young age, it sounded ridiculous, stupid even, but I figured I would give it a shot. Afterall, it wasn’t like I could do anything else to change the circumstances of the situation anyway. So, for the next few days, I repeated positive affirmations to myself in the privacy of my big ol’ noggin of mine and slowly and surely, I started to believe that maybe I could actually do it? I was gaining confidence in myself and I went into my first show strong-willed and ready to blow the audience out of the water. Just like that, I sang my song better than I had ever sung it; it was like the notes simply floated out of my mouth with ease. I was absolutely stunned. Did I just kind of kill it? I guess what my mom told me wasn’t so stupid after all. It does actually have some sense to it: since you are in control of your thoughts, your thoughts will be the guiding light to the action you take.
To break this down into simple terms, does anyone remember the childhood book, “The Little Engine that Could?” To recap, there was once a wee, little train who stared at the steep tracks in front of her and thought: Oh dear lord, this is gonna hurt tomorrow. She viewed this hill as something unachievable, something she could never climb. As a result, the train struggled and struggled up the hill. However, then another little train told her to shift her mindset and to view the hill not as a downfall, but as a challenge she would be able to eventually proudly tell people she tackled. She started to say, “I think I can, I think I can,” which quickly turned into “I know I can, I know I can, I know I can.” Following this, along she chugged up and up and up the hill until she felt unstoppable.
This just goes to show that not everything should have to tear you down; the dark clouds don’t have to mean that your day is ruined, and most importantly, the thoughts that might want to take over and call the shots won’t stand a chance if you don’t let them. It’s all up to you darling and the lens you choose to focus with. Just as you would when taking a picture, adjust your lens to what makes the image look its best, brightest and most colourful.
Now, Emily, you might say, this is childish, surface-level cotton-headed ninny muggins silliness! I can’t get an A+ on my math test or score my dream job just by saying “I know I can” or “You got this.” Yes, this might be true, indeed, however, this is the spark to the fire I was talking about earlier; you can’t make a fire without the proper materials. The mindset is what propels action forward, not in a negative, dreadful manner, but in a hopeful, confident and passionate way.
I truly believe in the science of energy vibrations and the law of attraction: the energy you put out into the world is what you will receive. So, if you wake up in the morning, put on your big-person pants, tell yourself that it will be a kick-ass day and move forward with the right intent behind your energy and actions, you might be pleasantly surprised by what comes your way. So, don’t go into that test you have studied for with the thought that you will fail and probably not succeed. And, maybe you didn’t study and you aren’t prepared – that is a whole other conversation in itself and actually has a lot to do with your mindset towards your ability to achieve greatness in the first place and the actions that result from it – That is, if you don’t believe in yourself in the first place, maybe you will be less likely to study. Trust that you are smart, you are capable and that you achieve anything you work hard for. A sky-diver doesn’t jump off a plane with the thought that they’re going to crash and burn, they soar with intention, drive, and the confidence that they will safely land.
The My Little Mermaid play I performed in Grade 8 wasn’t the only time I chose to prioritize mind over matter. In fact, now, I use it in every daily challenge I face. Whenever something creeps into the forefront of my mind that doesn’t belong, I choose to take control of that thought – that thought does not define me or control me. For example, about 10 days ago, I flew across the ocean all by my myself to take on one of my biggest fears and challenges yet: 4 months in a foreign country with nothing but my two, over-packed suitcases and a voice in my mind that tried to scream and make up every possible excuse for reasons I shouldn’t go. Yes, it trickled in, as these moments do, but I didn’t let this bring me down as it might have at one point in my life and even when this seemed all too tempting.
When I was fresh off the plane, a sweaty mess with the faintest idea of how I was going to make it to my apartment in one piece by myself, I said, “I can do this. I CAN.” It was a struggle and yes, I pushed through. I turned a situation that looks pretty awful on paper into a…paper airplane! I discovered that you can fold a gum wrapper into many things during those two hours. It’s called turning something that looks like plain garbage into something slightly less garbage-y; you are the only architect of the matter around you. And, I cannot express enough how many doors have opened since that pretty awful first day. I am continuing to be the little train engine that could, no matter how steep or rickety the tracks look in front of me, not the one that couldn’t or didn’t want to or felt that it wouldn’t be possible.
When there’s a will, there’s a way. Summon the will inside of you and use your spark to start the fire. It might be a fire that only needs a spark to burn quickly, with a strong heat, or it might burn slowly and steadily, needing continuous care and attention. Whatever the situation you’re in may be and whatever matter that may not be so appealing to you, remember that your outlook on the matter matters more than the matter itself. Wow, now try saying that five times fast.
What are you waiting for? Be your own little engine that could.