14. Bounce your thoughts
If you’ve ever coached or worked with kids who play basketball, you know that most of them have a tendency to dribble with only one hand– the one attached to their dominant arm. When you notice a child doing this, you might call him aside and say, “Billy, you’re dribbling with just the one hand every time, and the defender can easily defend you when you do that. Your options are cut off. You need to dribble with your other hand, too, so that he never knows which way you’re going to go.”
At this point Billi might say, “I can’t.” And you smile and say. ” What do you mean you can’t?”
And Billy then shows you that when he dribbles with his subdominant (weaker) hand and arm, the ball is all over the place. So, in his mind, he can’t.
“Billy,” you say. “It’s not that you can’t, it’s just that you haven’t.”
Then you explain to Billy that his other hand can dribble just as well if he is willing to practice. It’s just a matter of logging enough bounces. It’s the simple formation of a habit. After enough practice dribbling with his other hand, Billy will learn you were right.
The same principle is true for reprogramming our own dominant habits of thinking. If our dominant thought habit is pessimistic, all we have to do is dribble with the other hand: Think optimistic thoughts more and more often until it feels natural.
Thinking is just like bouncing the basketball. On the one hand, I can think pessimistically and build that side of me up ( it’s just a matter of repeatedly bouncing those thoughts). On the other hand, I can think optimistically–one thought at a time–and build that habit up. Self-motivation is all a matter of how much in control you want to be.
The overall pattern won’t change after just a few positive bounces of the brain. If you’re a pessimist, your biocomputer has been programmed heavily in that direction. But it doesn’t take long before a new pattern can emerge. Slowly but surely. You do change. One thought at a time. If you can bounce it one way, you can bounce it the other.