Thinking out of the box (Photo credit: bounder)
If you want to get ahead in life, it’s imperative to employ “outside the box” thinking. Think like everyone else, accept the norms that are presented to you and will have to play by the rules like everyone else. Start asking yourself a few questions to challenge the status quo and you will begin to open up all sorts of opportunities for yourself. Society, bureaucracy and organisations build ‘boxes’ around us. Don’t automatically accept the rules and regulations (I am not advocating anything illegal!), always ask if there is another way.
I have come up against huge resistance as a Psychologist/Counsellor. There is a monopoly on which education path you take and if you don’t take one of these exorbitant courses, you will be excluded from the “accredited club”. I am all for regulation in order to safeguard the public from inexperienced mental health professionals but the ‘shackles’ you have to wear in order to be accepted in this industry is probably what will end up breaking the mental health profession. The client has been long forgotten – there are huge waiting lists to see professionals, yet there are none available as the Universities and professional regulatory bodies tighten their grip. There is huge demand and this shapes the future as the organisations know they can monopolise the industry when there is such a huge influx of people wanting to become a counsellor/psychologist. Those that do manage to pass through the pearly gates of accreditation soon come to realise that they are similar to rats on a treadmill. Due to the competition for jobs, staff are expendable and you have to work incredibly hard to manage the pressure. Many are overworked and underpaid and this is what welcomes them after years of studying and ‘following the rules’. That means – attending the right course, taking on an extremely low paid job in order to gain experience = modern day slavery in some ways!
Rant over…how do we start to think outside the box and challenge the status quo?
How to encourage “outside the box” thinking
Have a “can do” attitude
As Henry Ford famously said “Whether you think you can or can’t, you are probably right”. Be optimistic and expect positive things in your life. Don’t allow life to grind you down and make you cynical. Look for the good in people, believe that with the right attitude, doors will open for you and others will support you.
Ask yourself “why not”?
In a world where others are all too ready to point out why something won’t work, think the opposite. Why wouldn’t it work? Failure is a state of mind. For me, failure is giving up. Failure is letting the pessimists and the misery in the world win. By all means do a risk assessment, but once that looks good – Look for the possibilities in life rather than the pitfalls.
Watch the self limiting thoughts/beliefs
Thoughts such as – “I am not clever /competent enough. I am too old. I don’t know enough.” All of these thoughts will stop you in your tracks. Stop putting barriers in your way. When we were younger, most of us believed we could do what we wanted and that the world was available for creativity and resourcefulness. Ageing breaks down optimism but it doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t sell yourself short by limiting yourself unnecessarily. Practise positive inner dialogue – remind yourself of your strengths.
Practise gratitude. Remind yourself daily of all the good things in your life, no matter how small – this is known as cognitive behavioural modification..tuning your mind to the positive. It works!
Don’t conform and follow what others expect
Be unconventional.Â Don’t be a sheep and follow the crowd. It’s safer but it can limit and destroy your talent and skills. How will you ever know what you are truly capable of if you stay in your comfort zone and don’t push yourself? See life as an adventure. I have found that when faced with a positive friendly attitude, most people are willing to help or at least offer suggestions to get you on your way. When you take responsibility for yourself, don’t play the victim card and show that you are willing to work for it – others will admire you for it. many will wish they had your feisty spirit and enthusiasm!
Believe in yourself – MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL
I cannot stress enough how incredibly important self belief is. It is your most powerful tool and it can help you achieve amazing things in your life. When you believe in yourself you are more likely to follow your own path, you will be less likely to be swayed by others’ negativity and you will be more able to stay on your focused path. Remind yourself that many of us and bumbling along in life – no one has all the answers. Challenge those thoughts that worry you – such as “but what do I know?” or “who am I in the big wide world” – these are limiting beliefs that need to go.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” – Eleanor Roosevelt.
I love the above quote as it reminds me that we have a choice when it comes to feeling inferior. What meaning have you assigned to someone that allows them to leave you feeling inferior? Often, the reason is just a thought – NOT FACT.
How do you define if someone is superior to you? Is there a universal scale by which we can all measure ourselves? NO, there isn’t. Be careful what to choose to believe and watch ow these beliefs affect your attitude towards yourself. Is someone better than you due to looks, intelligence, kindness, money, patience, dressing style….??? Ultimately – you define yourself and you should always think that you are amazing. Not better than others but equally valuable in every way.
We are equal when we are born and we are equal when we die. The way we value ourselves inbetween is distorted by factors such as financial status, perceived power in society, exclusivity, looks and so on but you don’t have to accept these standard categorisations..Make up your own. For all I know, there could be someone who believes that the person who owns the most pairs of green underwear is the most superior in the world. Who am I to argue?? Again – only you define you!
Remember to challenge the “way things are”. Do they have to be that way? Can they be improved? Is there a better way? You really do have far more choices than you realise..just open your mind to them and they will begin appearing at a rapid rate.