My six-year-old told me a joke last week.
“Mom, imagine you are in a steel box and there’s no way out. What do you do?”
“Hmmm…no way out huh…gee, I don’t know. Scream for help, I guess. What would you do?”
“Stop imagining I’m in the box.”
In this little riddle lies the key to solving most, if not all, of life’s problems, and it was delivered to me by a first-grader. So simple, and yet so profound a message: the solution lies not in what you do, but in what and how you think.
We often view circumstances in life, whether self-created or imposed by others, as a steel box we cannot get out of. Our problems become larger than they should be and seem unsolvable because we are not willing or able to change the way we think about them. Sometimes we sit in our box, convinced that there is no way out, and scream for help, or assign blame for our predicament to someone else. We accept helplessness as if we are victim to whatever perceived force put us in the box in the first place. The riddle of the box suggests that maybe we imagine things as problematic when they really aren’t. Maybe the only thing we actually fall victim to is our own propensity to think ourselves into a steel box.
I spend my time professionally helping people get out of boxes by changing their limiting or negative thinking patterns. The doing naturally follows. You’d think that because of this I would never find myself in a similar situation, but sometimes even I need a little help with this too. In an intensive I attended last weekend, I worked an exercise that lifted the lid of a box I thought I was in, showed me the light at the end of this tunnel, and, quite frankly, made me feel like an idiot for getting in that imaginary box in the first place. I began writing this post before this experience, and now, I know why I needed it.
Glinda was right. I’ve always had the power, and I always will.
Opposition creates an opportunity for choice. I choose to think outside of the box.