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How to See the Possible in the Impossible


Are you an impossibility thinker or a possibility thinker? One of those ice breaker questions thrown out in a recent seminar peaked my interest. When asked for a show of hands, more negative nellies braved recognition than their more positive counterparts. Still waiting for the dust to settle, I stared at the powerpoint slide’s proclamation: “How to See the Possible in the Impossible”.

Welcome to Mindfulness Monday! Where we learn some easy ways to be more present “in the moment” at our jobs, in our homes, with our families and friends. Learning to recognize God and what He has for us in each divine moment He offers. We acknowledge the belief that God is with us always. We confess His presence is available to us, lifting our spirit and helping us with power and grace. Learning to “be still”, so we can hear His voice and view ourselves, others and our surroundings through His eyes.

impossibility thinking

As defined by the speaker, the impossibility thinker sees only problems, roadblocks, and risks. Normally perceived as naysayers, they quickly point out ample reasons why a new idea or specific change will not work. Instead of choosing to see the possible in the impossible, they prefer the status quo.

For those fearful of change, clinging to a comfort zone mentality keeps them safe from potential failure and disappointment.

Impossibility thinking demonstrates a learned self-preservation behavior whose mantra is “I can’t_______, it’s too hard.” A form of negative thinking, it stifles creativity, real problem solving, and stalwartly refuses change.

woman, blond hair purple shirt amrs crossed

Seeing only the impossible

For the impossibility thinker, seeing is believing. Making the decision against a new idea or proposed change is easy, now nothing needs done.

They hunker down in their comfort zone while reinforcing their opposing decision with platitudes like:

“It wasn’t meant to happen”

“That sort of thing is Ok for some people, but not me.”

“I’m too old, too young, too busy, uneducated or set in my ways.”

possibility thinking

Though related to positive thinking, possibility thinking goes beyond a simple “I can make this happen” attitude. Creating the ability for creative problem solving, learning new skills and increasing their knowledge; possibility thinkers embrace change readily.

Unafraid of change, possibility thinkers continually expand their comfort zone by challenging and stretching themselves.

woman with arms open in sunshine

Preferring the belief that anything is possible, they become open to new ideas or ways of working out difficult problems, while fully maintaining healthy realism.

seeing only the possible

For the possibility thinker, seeing is not believing. They must explore possibilities and examine multiple angles to every new idea or seeming roadblock.

For one who sees the possible in the impossible, no door is completely closed.

Undaunted by setbacks or obstacles, the possibility thinker shifts into exploratory mode, brain storms, strategizes and researches all possible options for succeeding.

With no plan for backing down, they forge ahead until they finally obtain success or the evidence indicates it won’t work this time. Though disappointed, the possibility thinker quickly moves on with valuable experience and the knowledge they gave it their best.

living the possible within the impossible

While most people tend more towards one way of thinking most of the time, the speaker clearly noted we all employ both possibility and impossibility thinking. Interestingly, fear plays a huge role in pushing us one way or the other.

open bible, coffee and toast on wooden table

Fear of failure or disappointment locks you within rigid impossibility thinking, while fear of missing out, can move you towards facing the challenge with creative possibility thinking.

While I definitely own both approaches to critical thinking, as a Christian, I curiously pondered possibility thinking walked out in faith using Philippians 4:8.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Philippians 4:8

possibility thinking through philippians 4:8

The beauty of mindfulness keeps us from ruminating in the past or rushing fearfully into the future by grounding us in the present moment. Obeying the Apostle Paul’s admonition in Philippians 4:8 aids us in faith-filled, judgment free possibility thinking.

Walking through Philippians 4:8 allows us to see the possible in the impossible situations and relationships we face everyday.

True Possibilities

“Think on things that are true.” When facing difficult circumstances, decisions or changes, directing our minds towards the truth of God’s Word anchors us in God’s unchangeable character. His Word is truth (John 17:17) and we can trust His Presence with us no matter what the future portends. (Hebrews 13:5-6)

Practice: When tempted to fear or impossibility thinking, reflect on the truth of God’s Word and ask Him to reveal His truth in your situation.

Noble Possibilities

woman in business attire journaling

“Think on things that are noble.” Pursuing a noble or just frame of mind prevents a critical and judgmental attitude of dismissal. Impossibility thinking creeps in with prejudices and grudges. Esteeming others (Philippians 2:3-4) forbearing others, and keeping an open mind (Colossians 3:12-17) positions us for new experiences.

Practice: Determine to see the possible in the impossible by responding to new ideas or changes with genuine curiosity and openness.

Right Possibilities

“Think on things that are right.” Reign in possibility thinking gone too far by filtering a new situation or relationship through God’s standards of righteous behavior. (Ephesians 4:24) Overactive possibility thinking often blurs the line between right and wrong.

Practice: Test your insistence for moving forward with a new idea or relationship with its compliance to the righteousness of God’s Word.

Pure Possibilities

“Think on things that are pure.” Pure thoughts encompass more than the avoidance of immoral fantasies. Thoughts centered on doubt, can reveal a lack of faith which displeases God. (Hebrews 11:1) Entertaining thoughts of complaint, discontent, or resentment likewise displays impure attitudes. (Philippians 2:14)

Practice: When you notice impossibility thinking, take your thoughts captive, ruthlessly rooting out negativity.

Lovely Possibilities

stone path through a garden, purple azaleas

“Think on things that are lovely.” Lovely thoughts rarely accompany difficult paths or proposed changes in circumstances or relationships. Yet reflecting on God’s past faithfulness, especially during tribulation, diminishes fear and negativity. (1 Chronicles 16:34)

Practice: When faced with a reluctant attitude towards change in circumstance or relationships, journal about God’s past faithfulness with an attitude of gratitude.

Admirable Possibilities

“Think on things that are admirable.” When impossibility thinking blinds your faith with a problem only view, turn your eyes upon God, who always makes a way. (Isaiah 43:19) Reflecting on His goodness at all times.

Practice: Shift your mindset from one of fear to faith by feasting your thoughts on God’s merciful kindness and provision.

Excellent Possibilities

“Think on things that are excellent.” Rather than a mindset of discouragement over change in circumstance or difficulty in relationship, consider the merits and strengths of the possibilites. Remember God’s grace provides sufficiency for every trial and weakness. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Practice: Intentionally form either a mental or physical list of all the merits and strengths of the situation before you. Spend time only considering those before you compare any negatives.

woman with long brown hair looking up at sky in field of flowers

Excellent Praise

“Think on things that are praiseworthy.” Receiving all things from God’s sovereign hands with gracious gratitude prevents negative impossibility thinking. Reflecting on God’s greatness and goodness towards you opens your heart and mind to His possibiities in every situation. (Psalm 145:3)

Practice: Send negativity and complaining packing with time in praise and worship from a heart of gratitude for God’s steadfast love for you.

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.

Matthew 19:26

how to see the possible in the impossible

Overcome default impossibility thinking sourced in negativity, by increasing your awareness of the habit. Notice your first responses to change or difficulty; is your gut response immediately primed for finding everything wrong? Or do you respond with curiosity and interest?

Though the speaker shared some great practical advice for overcoming the entrenched habit of impossibility thinking, true victory comes through faith in the God of the impossible. Taking negative thoughts captive and subjecting them to the wisdom of Philippians 4:8 frees us from fear, grounds us in faith, and positions us for a life of abundant possibilities in Christ.

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All content is copyrighted and the intellectual property of Donna M. Bucher, Serenity in Suffering 2020.

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