Updated: Apr 3, 2021
Belief is one of the most powerful forces we have, but it is also the one area where we unconsciously self sabotage more than anywhere else.
We are quick to believe the stories we tell ourselves, and we are prone to believing other people’s stories about us too. Yet belief sits in the very centre of your brain, flicking switches on and off and having a great time messing with you. If we can take control of our belief system, then we have the power to eliminate almost all perceived barriers to success, and ultimately, happiness.
So where do our beliefs come from?
Most of our beliefs are formed when we are children by hearing, seeing and inferring what is happening around us. We develop our sense of self by how others interact and respond to us, this then becomes the main contributor to how we see ourselves as adults. Our self esteem and self belief is hugely shaped in this time of our life, although experience continues to shape us in small ways our whole lives.
Our brains are incredible machines, but they are not designed to make us happy or fill us with self confidence. They are designed to keep us safe. In practice this means our brains look for danger everywhere, whether that is seeking out a sabre toothed tiger or protecting ourselves from judgement and rejection from our tribe. Brains are not very good at patting us on the back. We need to learn how to do that for ourselves.
Humans also have the incredible ability of thought, imagination and story-telling which can make our toxic belief systems be even more dangerous for us. Our mind reminds us of our beliefs over and over in every situation. These beliefs then become worn into our psyche and, just like learning anything, they become muscle memory for our brains. You don’t plan to think that way, you just do!
Imagine the contrasting ways a person may behave when it comes to overcoming barriers if the story their mind had always told them was “The people I care about most will love me no matter what, I deserve to be happy and I can achieve anything I put my mind to.” Compared to “People think I’m stupid and irritating. I am not that great at seeing things through and even when I do, I don’t really do very well.” Let’s take a closer look;
Belief #1 - Laura
“The people I care about most will love me no matter what, I deserve to be happy and I can achieve anything I put my mind to.”
- are more likely to take risk and take responsibility
- are more likely to build healthy new relationships
- will fight for their own happiness and fulfilment without fear of rejection
- have great adaptability
- are able to confidently say no, and more likely to say yes to the things that will move them forward
- will ask for what they need
- will think creatively
- are able to easily build rapport with people
- will believe they will achieve.
Belief #2 - Lisa
“People think I’m stupid and irritating. I am not that great at seeing things through and even when I do, I don’t really do very well.”
- will assume they will fail, so avoid taking risk
- will shy away from people to protect themselves from judgement
- believe they don’t deserve to be happy so don’t ask for what they need
- may excessively people please
- compare themselves to others, and constantly fare badly in their opinion
- expect to fail
- apologise for themselves
- will find it more comfortable to blame other people and other things for their lack of success
Here’s the thing. Regardless of how much money, how much time, how much skill, how attractive you are or how much of anything you may or may not have, your beliefs will determine your success. The ONLY difference between Laura and Lisa in the example above was their belief system. [Mind blown!]
How do I take back control and change my beliefs?
1. Notice there is a monkey in your brain talking s**t about you. Listen to the monkey. Make peace with the fact the monkey isn’t speaking the truth but understand why it is there and why it may be saying the things it says. Awareness is key to taming the mind-monkey.
2. Change your state. The key component parts to your state are your physiology (what you do with your body), your language and your focus. Changing any or all of these things can make a big difference to your belief system. Think about the body language of someone who is frightened or apologetic compared to someone who is confident, light and ready to take on the world. Studies show that there is a chemical shift in your body when you change your body language!
3. Self care. Take some time for you. Whether that is exercise, reading, meditation or just a shower. We all need time to stop, gather and shine a torch on the mind monkey and shush it.
4. Mindfulness. I know, I know. Everyone bangs on about it but there is a reason. If meditation isn’t for you however, try this. Wherever you are sitting, think about how your socks/shoes/tights feel on your feet. How does the fabric or floor feel? Can you move each toe independently? Spend as long as you like here. Then move on to another part of your body. Congratulations. You just did some mindfulness! Do whatever it takes to just bring yourself back to the moment.
5. Therapy. If your belief system is truly embedded and you just can’t shake it, investing in a good therapist can be life changing. Sometimes you just need someone to guide you through the starting blocks of reprogramming your brain.
You’ve got this!
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