Of all the cool parts in The Matrix, the one that many people remember is the “there is no spoon” scene.
Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) takes Neo (Keanu Reeves) to meet the Oracle, whose purpose is to help The One who will finally bring down the Matrix. While waiting for the Oracle to see him, Neo sits with a boy who seems to be bending and warping a spoon. It looked like the boy was doing something magical, something Neo could never do.
“Do not try and bend the spoon,” the boy says to Neo. “That’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth.”
“What truth?” Neo asks.
“There is no spoon.”
All that stood in the way of Neo being able to do what the boy did…was Neo. When Neo changed his way of looking at things, he succeeded in seeing the spoon bend in his hand. Sometimes the key to success is simply looking at things differently.
While we can’t bend spoons with our minds, the same principle works in both the big and small areas of life.
I love creative cooking, and once sold an article including recipes like my apple-jalapeño coffee cake. My husband is one of the least adventurous eaters I know (he hadn’t even tried banana bread before we met). You’d be surprised how much frustration it created when he refused to try something because he’d decided in advance he wasn’t going to like it.
When what’s standing in your way is a mental block, sometimes the best thing you can do is trick yourself into taking that first step, that first bite. If Neo let himself be convinced by what his eyes saw–a spoon–he never would have been able to bend the spoon.
My husband refuses to eat squash, which means he turned his nose up at zucchini bread. I love zucchini bread. I decided the only way to get him around his mental block was to be a little sneaky. I made a batch of chocolate zucchini bread, and when he asked what it was, I simply said “chocolate bread.” Once he tried it and liked it, I told him it had zucchini in it, and he continues to eat it, despite the squash inside, because he tried it without the mental block of I can’t or I won’t.
If that doesn’t work, you can always look for similarities in things you know you can succeed at. Notice how Neo tilted his head to the side in the clip above. It’s almost like he’s trying to move his head because he knows he can’t try to move the spoon.
Because my husband loves pumpkin pie, I also focused on finding new ways to use those same flavors—pumpkin cupcakes, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin pancakes.
If there’s something you think you can’t do, break it down into the basic skills it would take for you to succeed. Then find other tasks you know you can do that require those same skills. When you twist the way you look at it and see that you actually have the skills you need (or can learn them), the insurmountable task doesn’t look so insurmountable anymore.
Has there been a time when a mental block turned out to be all that was standing in your way? What other tips do you have for getting past seemingly impossible obstacles?