I learned a lot of great things as a child, but one aphorism that I wish had not been emblazoned on my psyche is “don’t get your hopes up.”

I know I learned this young and well because it comes so naturally to me. I always temper my hopes about things, often expecting the worst to happen but almost always rehearsing in my mind how I would feel if the thing I wanted didn’t turn out. I know this is a way to desensitize to risk and to hedge my emotional bets.

Not just mine but my kids, too.

I use this slogan with my own children. I even manage what I tell them about good things coming because I am so afraid of how they might feel if it doesn’t end up happening as planned. I could be very excited about a trip to a water park or a guest coming from out of town, but I won’t let myself fully feel it or share it with them because I’m too afraid of the potential hurt they might experience.

I am not teaching them to roll with life or see the good in all experiences or make the best of everything or that they create their reality. Dang. How ironic, because that is what I teach and, on many levels, essentially, what I believe. But I have this old cultural hangover. I see clearly it’s self-protection, and because that seems like such a bright idea, I get to keep it. Or so says my internal brat. The protection is a lie.

We so often trick ourselves into thinking we can protect ourselves from pain.

Ironically, we end up causing more. When we avoid tough conversations or pretend not to care or, worse (what I do), pre-plan disappointment, we ensure pain rather than avoid it. But our minds still think it’s a great idea. Now, I know people used to think the earth was flat too, so I know mental culture CAN change, and I’ve gone about trying to change mine and my kids.

Each week, I pick a new belief I want to have—for example, “we’re lucky” or “life is good.” And I think on it throughout the day. I bring it up in conversation and generally emanate it. Part of my little game is to see if my new “idea” comes back to me. So far, I have had surprising success. People notice my new attitude and feed it back to me, even my kids. The culture I want in my home is one of invention.

The status quo isn’t working in so many ways, and it’s going to take a critical mass of people imagining something different for it to get better.

So I pledge to use my mind for good, for the good of love, peace, sustainability, and equality.

I promise to get my hopes up.

As President of Handel Group® Life Coaching and a Senior Coach, Laurie Gerber’s personal and professional mission is to better the world by teaching people to tell the truth and pursue their dreams. Her ability to strip away psychological and emotional burdens has been showcased on radio, TV, the blogosphere, and in a wide variety of live events. Laurie leads events at Kripalu, Esalen, Menla, Equinox, and more. Her growing TV career includes MTV’s True Life Special: I’m Getting A Second Chance and an upcoming pilot for A&E. Follow Laurie on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you want to change the culture in your mind? In your house? In your lifestyle? If things aren’t looking or feeling how you wish, do you know you have the power to change it? The tools are simple and practical but they take some time to learn and practice. Will you start your shift today?

*Featured image by ro-buk [I’m not there]