Where I grew up in the Karoo everything was scarce. Water was always scarce. If the wind didn’t blow, we couldn’t even get water from the boreholes. I learnt to bath in a few centimetres of water only when the water tank was full. I learnt to keep the dishwater standing just in case you wanted to rinse something later. When the rains came, the meat prices dropped. It is a place, of which the Afrikaners say, “Die ellende blom altyd daar.” (Tragedy flowers there.)
I developed a scarcity mentality – a filter through which I viewed the world. That filter coloured all money related information in the colour of worry. It didn’t serve me well. It really held me back when I started my own business. It was at this point that I realised I needed a better, more realistic lens. A lens that would help me grow the business with a long-term vision. A lens that would help me make the necessary investments in my business without fear of sudden disaster.
My mentality was like a seed that had grown into a tree and borne fruit in my life. Yet, it was a fruit that was shrivelled up, pathetic, grown from drought and despair. It had no relation to my reality – a successful career and flourishing start-up. It had to go. I had to chop the tree down.
It was just recently that I started paying attention to research about the impact of thought patterns on our brains. Recurring thought patterns grow tree-like structures in our brains. The longer these patterns continue, the stronger and bigger the trees become. However, they are not permanent structures. When we change our thought patterns, the old structures dwindle as they are starved, and new structures are then formed. It’s called neuroplasticity.
We all have patterns of thinking, paths our thoughts easily dwell on. We also all have a choice about those patterns – we can make a conscious decision to examine them, bring them to light, see how they serve us and change them if they don’t. If we allow ourselves to dwell on negative and unhelpful thoughts, we literally create that reality in our lives. It can show up in our health, our relationships, work and social lives. However, if we stop destructive thoughts, we create a positive environment in both our internal and external environment. Clearly not all bad stuff happens because of negative thoughts, but we may just miss out on a lot of good stuff because of our negative thinking.
We can change our reality by changing our thinking.