Your Thoughts Create Your Reality

A version of this article originally appeared on and was graciously provided by Paula Black. Paula is one of the world’s leading business and professional development coaches for lawyers, entrepreneurs & service providers, award-winning author & speaker.

Your thoughts have the power to shape your reality, for better or for worse, whether you realize it or not. Henry Ford is often credited with saying, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right.” There’s so much truth and wisdom in that statement.

As I like to tell my clients, the stories you tell yourself determine how you show up in the world. If you’re constantly telling yourself, “I can’t” or “This is too hard” or “This is impossible,” you’re creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and you probably are going to struggle in many areas of your life. On the other hand, if you believe in yourself and if you train yourself to see the opportunities in every setback, you can accomplish nearly anything.

The story you tell yourself determines your reality. The really great news is that you have the ability to change that story! Here are four ways to make that happen.

Focus on the positive.

Whether it’s your relationships, your business opportunities, your personal life, or any other area of your life, start by assuming the best. When you approach a person or a situation with skepticism and negativity, you’re very likely to find something to be unhappy about. And many times, you’ll miss out on a golden opportunity or an exciting relationship simply because you let a minor imperfection get in the way. Start with positive assumptions!

Look for possibilities in every situation. 

Many people are naturally wired to look for all of the reasons why something might not work. But often, we don’t give enough thought to all of the reasons it could work—and how incredible the opportunities may be if it does. Train yourself to look for all of the possibilities in each situation, not just the potential problems.

See setbacks as opportunities.

I love how Oprah talks about failure. In 2013, during a Harvard commencement speech, she said, “Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction.”

That mindset is so powerful—and it’s so important. Because the truth is, every one of us is going to experience failures and setbacks in our business and personal lives. The question is, how will we respond when that happens? Do you internalize failure and let it define you? Or do you view failure as an opportunity to learn, get better, and come back stronger?

I can tell you that I have experienced plenty of setbacks in my career and I can honestly tell you that I’m better off—and more successful—today as a result of those setbacks. Don’t fear failure and don’t let setbacks slow you down. Recognize the opportunity, learn from your experience, and come back stronger!

Dream bigger.

I want you to think about what you really want your life to look like. Not what will you settle for or toleratebut what do you really want your life to look like? If money wasn’t an issue and you had all the time in the world, what would you do? Where would you live? What type of work would you do? Who would you spend your time with?

The answers to these questions will give you a powerful clue as to what you really want out of life, and I am giving you permission to chase those dreams. When you dream bigger, you start to see the world differently and you recognize opportunities in places you might not have seen before.

Your thoughts shape your reality. If you see the world through a negative lens, negativity will become your reality. But if you’re not afraid to dream, if you put the fear of failure behind you, if you train yourself to find opportunities instead of problems—life becomes a wonderful adventure!

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