“A man, who had lost his wife during childbirth, was raising his son alone and he loved him more than anything else in the world. One day, while his father was out of the house, the looters burned most of the city and kidnapped his son.
When his father returned, he confused one of the burned corpses and thought he was his son. Completely devastated by pain, he cremated his body and put ashes into an urn that he placed in the best place of the house.
A few days later, the boy who had managed to escape the looters, went home and knocked at the door of the house his father had just reconstructed.
The man asked who he was. When the boy replied: “I am your son, please, let me in!” His father pressed his urn with his ashes on his chest, and thought a village boy was playing him a cruel joke.
“Go away!” he yelled.
The boy continued knocking at the door and begged his father to open it. However, the man, believing he was not his son, kept telling him to leave.
Finally, the boy surrendered. He went away and never came back.”
This story, which is part of a collection of Buddhist tales, may seem absurd, but the truth is that on several occasions we behaved like the father of the story.
We turn the unlikely into impossible whenever:
– We cling to an idea assuming it is an absolute and immutable truth, so we close the door of our minds and avoid the truth to enter.
– We become victims of the confirmation bias, and mentally we only mark the details that confirm our version of the story, those that allow us to believe what we believe, neglecting every evidence and argument against it.
– We confuse the concept of unlikely with the impossible one, so we do not even listen when the opportunity knocks on our door.
We have to be very careful about this prejudice because obstinacy, the fact that we are clinging to certain ideas to “defend” the past or keep our ego intact, can lead us to lose what we love. We must not forget that pride and stiffness are the main reasons for destroying our interpersonal relationships.
Like the father of the story, we can lose some important person for us, or miss some big opportunity, just because we were not able to notice the signs that we were losing ourselves.
Do not make the unlikely impossible
There is an important difference that we often neglect between what we might call improbable and what is impossible. There are facts that are unlikely, but even so, they contain within themselves the seeds of possibility. Many times, it is up to us to water and care for that seed so it germs and grows.
We cannot fail to think that improbable things are impossible, because in this way we exclude the most exciting paths that can help us grow and give us greater satisfaction. Improbable things are usually great challenges, and in these challenges we grow as people and test our abilities.
Why do we make the improbable impossible?
– For fear. Some situations, especially those we perceive as challenges, can generate some fear as they usually contain a good deal of uncertainty. And normally we do not like the uncertainty, we prefer security. In those cases, fear can block us.
– For resistance to change. When a situation is too demanding and contains many new elements that go far beyond what we know, we can develop a resistance to change, we stick to the desire to stay in our comfort zone.
– For stubbornness. There are moments when, to get something, we have to give up other things. However, we are not always willing to admit that we are wrong, so we prefer to remain faithful to our ideas, even if they do not allow us to grow and close our way to good opportunities.
– For lack of confidence. Many people are not restrained by lack of capacity, but lack of trust. When we have no confidence in what we are capable to do, we tend to think that the improbable things are impossible for us. It’s an excuse for not trying.
To conclude, Hermann Hesse gives us an excellent advice: “In order for the possible to arise, the impossible must be tried again and again.” And Eleanor Roosevelt told us, “You have to do things you think you cannot do.” Make sure you do not become your main obstacle.