While exploring the backyard recently, one of our dogs wandered upon a freshly-shed snake skin. The peel this reptile left behind in the grass reminded me of a story James Allen told in As a Man Thinketh, the classic essay published in the early 1900’s about the power of our thoughts.
Allen wrote of a poverty-stricken youth toiling away in an unhealthy workshop but dreaming of a better life. The young man’s vision propelled him to spend all his spare time focused on learning what would help him realize his ideal.
As he grew in knowledge and abilities, things began to change. Allen said the workshop became so “out of harmony with his mentality” that it fell from his life. The young man left the workshop behind to take on greater responsibilities utilizing the skills he worked so hard to develop.
Make Room for Growth
Snakes shed their skin to allow room for growth. Just as these animals release the old in order to get bigger, we too shed our old skin to expand beyond our current level.
It may mean leaving an unfulfilling career like the young man in the workshop, distancing ourselves from negative-minded people, or dropping bad habits. We release that which is no longer in harmony with the vision we have for our lives. And it all begins with our thoughts.
The Power of Thought
Allen stated, “A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.” So, if what we focus on creates our reality, this means we have control over what we become. If we seek to make positive changes, we must first direct our thinking to be positive and life-affirming.
Once our thoughts are constructive and we begin to take action, momentum increases as we work toward realizing our vision. Soon, we reach a point where we outgrow our previous level. And when it comes time for the old skin to fall away, it does so naturally.
Choosing Our Focus
I re-read As a Man Thinketh at least once a year to reinforce this message in my mind. When something in my life isn’t going well, I can usually trace the source of the problem back to my own limited thinking.
When I feel stuck, it’s negative thoughts, like believing I’m unqualified or fearing failure, that are barriers to my growth. Before I can move ahead, I must intentionally replace those thoughts with more constructive ones.
Positive and negative thoughts are seeds of what we produce. Whichever ones we nourish will take root and grow. What has helped you cultivate a healthier thought pattern?