That was a big sigh…
I looked up to see him slumped in the cozy chair in my office, his homework sprawled across his lap desk, and his hands holding his head.
“Hey, Buddy. What’s the big sigh for? You okay?”
“I don’t know, Mom. This homework is tricky. I’m scared that fourth grade is going to be too hard.”
“Oh, you’re feeling challenged already?”
“That’s good. We all need those things that will help us stretch and grow.”
Another big sigh…
“Aaron, can I give you a little piece of advice?”
“Sure.” He looked up to meet my gaze.
“Be careful about what you tell yourself about the fourth grade.”
“What do you mean?” I had gotten his attention.
“Well, our words are really powerful. If you start to believe your words (that fourth grade is going to be hard), then how will you feel every time you sit down to do work at school or home?”
“Right, and then how might those feelings affect your learning and ability to do the work?”
“Well, you have always said that it’s hard to solve problems when you’re stressed.”
“Right.” I smiled, seeing that he was getting it. “In fact, this is what happened in my business two years ago. It was growing, but I felt like I couldn’t keep up. And you know what I kept saying to people? ‘I feel like I’m tied to the back of God’s truck, and He forgot to give me rollerblades, knee pads, and a helmet.’”
Aaron laughed at the image, and then I continued. “Well, can you guess how my business continued to feel?”
“Hard and painful?”
“Yep…until the day Ursula corrected me. She said, ‘Hey, you should stop saying that. Wouldn’t you rather be cruising in First Class in God’s 747 on the way to success?’ I took what she said to heart and changed the message I was giving myself, and you know what? Things got a whole lot easier, and they changed fast. I wasn’t expecting ‘hard’ anymore, so I didn’t look for it. In fact, I started to look for ‘easy.’”
“Hmmm….” I could see his wheels turning.
“So, what if you gave yourself a different message? What if you told yourself that fourth grade is going to be easy? Then how would you feel every time you sat down to do the work?”
“I’d feel good.” He paused. “Okay, Mom, I get it.”
“So, every time you have that ‘hard’ thought come up, just ask yourself, ‘What if it could be easy?’ or ‘How can this be so easy?’”
A few days later, Aaron told me how he had done just that and aced a test.
“Isn’t it crazy, Aaron? All the ‘hard’ is in our heads?”
“What is the secret of your success with this book, Amanda?” Her voice pulled me back from the flashback.
“The secret is this: I realized that the ‘hard’ is in our heads. The hardest part of every big task is getting to it…because we already believe it’s hard…and so it becomes hard. What if we told ourselves it was easy?”
After a long pause, I had to add, “And then gave the people around us permission to remind us that it can be easy…when we forget? My son loved answering one of my worried expressions with, ‘Mom, what if it could be easy?'”