Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

Could You Be Wrong in Thinking What is Possible?

Create possibility and empowerment by going for the "impossible."

photo from pixabay
Source: photo from pixabay

“Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also.”

—Marcus Aurelius

People who attend my workshops and trainings often hear me say, “Whatever you think you are, you’re more than that.” Yet many people still restrict themselves and their aspirations to what they think is “possible” or “reasonable.”

The word “possible” is defined as: Capable of happening, existing, or being true without contradicting proven facts, laws, or circumstances. And the definition of “reasonable” is: Governed by or being in accordance with reason or sound thinking; being within the bounds of common sense.

Based on those definitions, various experts over the years have claimed that lots of things were not “possible” and certainly not “reasonable.” For example:

“Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.” — Dr Dionysys Larder (1793-1859), science writer and educator

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” —Lord Kelvin (1824-1907), British mathematician and physicist

“A rocket will never be able to leave the earth’s atmosphere.”—The New York Times, 1936.

“Space travel is utter bilge.” — Dr. Richard van der Reit Wooley, Astronomer Royal, space advisor to the British government, 1956.

“Computers in the future may...perhaps only weigh 1.5 tons.”—Popular Mechanics, 1949

“I see little commercial potential for the internet for the next 10 years.”--Bill Gates (I’m guessing Bill is glad he was wrong about that one!)

Remember when video phones and self-driven cars were the stuff of The Jetsons? When bionic eyesight and voice recognition software was only on Star Trek? It’s fun to look at things that seem “impossible” today and imagine them becoming commonplace tomorrow. (I’m still hoping to be “beamed up” to cut some of my travel time!)

While that’s entertaining, it’s more important to notice what you believe is “impossible” in your own life. What possibilities for yourself have you given up on as unreasonable or impossible? And like all those experts, could you be wrong?

Most of us are brought up to stay within the “possible” and “reasonable.” So when you feel the urge to expand beyond those boundaries into something new (or at least new for you), you often get pushback from those around you. To be successful as you head into the “impossible,” it helps to build a foundation that supports new possibility.

For example, in our Empower Your Life workshops, our objective is to help students release negative baggage from the past so they can step into their possibilities. Then we teach them effective ways to transform their possibilities into reality.

We begin the process by working with techniques like the Mental Emotional Release® (MER®) process to dissolve conscious and unconscious limiting beliefs and entrenched negative emotions. Why? Because those limiting beliefs and negative emotions not only sabotage any movement toward new possibilities, they actually make you blind to them.

Once the restrictive cobwebs from the past are cleared out, students insert more empowering beliefs. An empowering belief doesn’t have to be grandiose like “I'm not the greatest; I'm the double greatest!” Or “I can leap tall buildings in a single bound!” In fact, often the unconscious will reject new beliefs that are too far from its experience. Simpler beliefs are often more effective: “If people before me have done this thing, I can do it too.” Or “Just because no one else has done this doesn’t mean it can’t be done. It just hasn’t been done yet.”

With new empowering beliefs in place, students start defining what they want to be, do and have. We help them get as clear as possible on this future version of themselves and the outcomes they wish to achieve. They make sure that their vision for the future and the path to it are aligned with their own core values.

Next, students create action steps and most importantly, they are taught about maintaining focus. Focus doesn’t mean that you live, breathe and sleep your future vision 24/7. It means that you accept whatever is happening as a stepping stone to your vision of your future self. That you work with whatever shows up, knowing that it has shown up for a reason. That you do the best you can with each step you take, and if you fall down or fail along the way, you realize that’s just a part of the process.

As Francis of Assisi wrote, “Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

“It always seems impossible until its done.”

— Nelson Mandela

Are there impossible things? Maybe. But all of us have way more potential and possibility that we could tap. Besides, as Walt Disney found out, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

To your TOTAL empowerment!


Dr. Matt


Byline: Matthew B. James, MA, Ph.D., is President of The Empowerment Partnership, the world's leading integrative personal development company for over 30 years. Author of several books, Dr. Matt has trained thousands of students towards total health and personal empowerment using Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Huna, and Mental Emotional Release® (MER®) therapy. . To reach Dr. Matt, please join him on Facebook or visit his blog at