Theodore Roosevelt said, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
The beliefs we have about ourselves shape our destiny.
If you want to start on a new path, if you want to get the best out of life, you need to know how to change your beliefs about yourself.
When you have positive self belief, it becomes easy to regain self confidence.
How Your Beliefs Affect Your Reality
You can catch your beliefs by listening to your self talk.
But just what are our beliefs and how do beliefs influence us?
You and I are built of beliefs.
Beliefs lie deep within our minds.
They are the foundations of our psychology. Our personalities, our attitudes, our actions, all are fueled by our beliefs.
The reason this is the case is simple: The mind is biased towards evidence that substantiates beliefs (1.). If you believe you are highly successful, your mind will filter out any evidence to the contrary, while focusing only on the evidence that supports your belief. This is why even your name affects your personality—if you have a strong sounding name (“Griffin” for example) your subconscious mind is constantly being given evidence that you are a strong person.
Your mind automatically scans-for evidence to support your beliefs. And it will also create evidence to show that your beliefs are accurat
This is how positive beliefs motivate positive actions that lead to real world results.
The opposite is also true: the mind will find or create evidence that supports negative beliefs too. And that is why negative beliefs can have such a devastating effect.
A large part of what motivates us in life is the need to prove that our beliefs are correct. Positive beliefs demand positive actions. Negative beliefs demand negative actions.
Positive beliefs create positive results
It amazing what happens once you learn to start thinking positively.
It doesn’t matter who you are, what life you were born into, where you came from, what limitations have been put on you, the truth is the same for everyone: the greater our positive beliefs, the more we will achieve.
When we learn how to change our beliefs about ourselves, when we learn how to create positive self beliefs, we gain self empowerment.
Whether we want them to or not, our self-beliefs determine our future.
- The people who succeed are the ones who believe they will succeed
- The high achievers are people who believe they will achieve things
- The people who are happy are the ones who believe they are happy
So guess what happens if your mind is full of negative, self-limiting beliefs.
Those negative beliefs create a negative reality. And they will continue to do so until they are changed.
If you have been feeling stuck it is probably because you have deeply ingrained negative beliefs about yourself that are holding you back.
That’s why we have to make the effort to build self confidence. And we have to eliminate negative beliefs.
How To Change Your Beliefs About Yourself
Changing your beliefs isn’t string theory. Actually, it’s as simple as cottage pie.
All you need to do is:
- find your beliefs
- act against them.
Let’s elucidate that.
Let’s say, for instance, you want to be super-fit and healthy. But deep down you believe you are an “overweight person”.
You want to go to the gym but your mind says “I can’t go to the gym. I’m overweight and unhealthy.”
So you don’t go to the gym. You stay overweight. And you fail to meet your object. And all because of that one negative self-belief.
What do you do?
Well obviously you just go to the darned gym already despite the belief.
But it’s usually not that easy.
Problem is this:
Your beliefs usually aren’t immediately obvious. Unless you’ve been practicing Third Eye (Ajna) meditation or some other technique designed to make you more aware of your own mind, you might not actually know what your real beliefs are.
Answer these quick-fire questions to see how aware you are of your own beliefs:
write down your answers for future use:
1) Name 5 positive beliefs you have about yourself
2) Name 3 ways in which you act-out those positive beliefs
3) Name 5 negative beliefs you have about yourself
4) Name 3 ways you act-out those negative beliefs
To change those negative beliefs:
5) Write down the opposite of each negative belief (if one negative belief was “I’m unattractive”, write down “I’m attractive”)
6) Decide 1 thing you would do if you had that positive belief (for instance, if your new positive belief is “I’m attractive”, you might write down “I will spend some money on clothing and go out this weekend looking amazing)
7) Do the 1 positive action you wrote down for each negative belief (from stage 6 above)
This technique will start to change your negative self-beliefs.
Some beliefs you will already be aware of.
But other beliefs are harder to pin-point.
Why You’re Blind To Beliefs
The information that flies through your brain moves at up to 200 miles per hour (2). It’s there one second, gone the next. Blink and you miss it.
So catching your negative beliefs is equivalent to catching a bullet.
For instance, the belief, “I’m an overweight person so I can’t go to the gym” might stay in your brain for literally a hundredth of a second. And if you miss it, it’s gone, having already corrupted you before you’ve even noticed it.
But not only do you miss it, the belief will germinate.
While that belief is tearing through your brain at 200 miles an hour it’s also producing negative thoughts in your mind.
All in all, a negative belief is like a rocket launcher in a china shop.
The picture looks like this:
You experience a belief: I’m fit, healthy and beautiful
That belief creates a thought: If I’m fit healthy and beautiful I must workout quite a lot
a second thought logically follows: If I workout a lot I must be athletic
It continues: If I’m athletic I might as well go pro…
Oh look, I just hired a personal trainer.
While all this is happening, your mind is scanning for evidence to support your beliefs.
So it works like this:
SELF-BELIEF: I’m fat so I don’t belong in the gym.
Observation: Yeah, my belly’s pretty massive actually. Don’t want those fit gym people looking at my fat gut.
This creates a secondary thought: If I don’t belong in the gym, I’m probably not the type of person who exercises.
Observation: Yeah, I don’t have any muscles and my body seems to be withering away.
Thought: If I don’t exercise I’m probably unhealthy.
Observation: I do feel a little sick. Maybe I should just curl up and binge watch Netflix.
Thought: If I’m unhealthy I’m probably going to be ill.
Observation: I’ve got a headache, maybe I should go to the doctor.
So then you end up going to the doctor when you wanted to go to the gym, and the doctor looks at you like, “Well, you’re healthy, but kinda mental.”
Negative self beliefs lead to negative actions. That’s why you need to know how to change your beliefs about yourself.
What happens if you change that belief about yourself?
Let’s take a look:
SELF-BELIEF: I am going to be thin and healthy in a few months so I should go to the gym.
Observation: Hey, I’m not as fat as I was a few weeks back. Let’s keep this up. Where are my running shoes?
Thought: If I’m going to run I should start doing some stretches.
Observation: Yeah, these stretches feel good. And look at me, I’m exercising already.
So within a few seconds of having that positive self belief you’re doing the thing you wanted to do, and you’re moving towards your goal of losing weight and being healthy.
This perhaps is one reason why scientists recently proved that positivity makes you healthier.
5 steps to stopping negative self-beliefs
- The following tips are based on the super-powerful Mindfulness-based CBT.
So now we’ve been smacked in the face with a new understanding of why self beliefs matter so much, what the hotcakes we gonna do about it?
Step 1: Meditate to slow your mind
- Get started with my guide to 31 meditations
There are over 100 benefits of meditation. And one of the best benefits is that is slows down your mind.
It’s easier to catch your thoughts and beliefs when you’re mind is clear and when you’ve slowed down.
Meditation helps a lot..
Meditation will slow down your mind and will increase self awareness. Meditation will also make it easier for you to spot those pesky negative self beliefs.
But what if you don’t want to meditate or you have meditated but it didn’t work? What else can you try?
Step 2: Belief Journal
Filling out a belief journal is a great way to become more aware of your recurrent negative thoughts and beliefs.
How to use a belief journal
- Grab yourself a little notebook. In that notebook, write down every negative self belief that runs through your mind.
- Important thing is to become more aware of your thoughts and beliefs. Writing them down helps because you then have them on paper and can annalyse them as you wish.
- Once you’ve written your list of negative beliefs, change them.
- Go through your list one by one and act in spite of the negative belief.
- For instance, if you’re a dude who thinks women don’t want to talk to you, talk to them anyway. 99 times out of 100 you will find that your negative self belief is garbage. That girl will talk right back to you happily. And with one action you have erased your negative self belief and it can no longer corrupt your mind and ruin your life.
So. Find your negative beliefs about yourself, write them down, and then act in spite of them.
Step 3: Monitor your thoughts and look for patterns
. Think about the thing you’re struggling with—weight loss, for instance. Now write down the thoughts that come to mind:
- I’ll never be fit because I’m too lazy to exercise.
- There’s just not enough time in the day to workout
- People will judge me if they see my fat ass running
- I don’t look good in running pants
Now look for the patterns.
There is an obvious pattern to the thoughts above. They all involved other people seeing us exercising. So clearly the negative belief here is that exercising will be a nightmare.
The commonality is exercise.
Get your butt to the gym and exercise. Just Do It (thanks, Nike).
Step 4: Smash through fear
If you manage to act in spite of this negative self belief you will effectively be taking an axe to those negative beliefs and cutting and dicing them into oblivion.
Problem is, fear gets in the way.
For years our negative beliefs make us see negative aspects of reality. If we have spent years believing exercise hurt then we will look for ways in which exercise does hurt. That will make us fearful of exercising. And it can be hard to beat such ingrained fears.
I’ve written a guide to how to stop fear. Take a look.
Creating Positive Beliefs For A Positive Future
Beliefs control actions. Actions control reality.
If you want to change your future, you need to know how to control your beliefs about your future. Relax. It’s not as hard as it sounds.
You might believe you exist in a time and place, that right now your life is confined to the house you’re in or to the job you’re working in, to your relationship or to any other external matter.
Truth is, the deeper aspect of your reality occurs within. Your existence resides in your mind, in your beliefs, in your deeper spiritual plane And if you want to control your future, you need to control your beliefs.
Are Negative Beliefs Holding You Back?
When you have negative beliefs about yourself you will prevent yourself from succeeding.
Those negative beliefs affect your subconscious mind, which then negatively influences your reality.
One of my good friends is a network administrator. Sitting in his leather office chair at work, his fingers drumming like a cricket’s legs on the keyboard, he sighs. “I’m sick of this. Wish I could escape. Go off somewhere. Maybe camping with my dad like old times.” He taps his foot against the chair impatiently.
According to the Chartered Institute of Personal Development, one in five people are so dissatisfied of their jobs that they are thinking of leaving even though they have no other job offer to go to.
“Right now I don’t care if I take a pay cut,” my friend tells me. “I’m so unhappy here. And the stress is affecting my health. Now I’ve got diabetes.”
He answers a phone call. There’s a muffled angry voice on the other side. He hangs up. I give him a minute before asking why he hasn’t left his job yet. “Probably wouldn’t find another job quick enough. Have to pay mortgage. You know: life,” he says. I point out that he could look for another job before leaving his current one. He just shrugs.
Too many people feel the same way: trapped in a job they don’t like but feeling unable to leave. What keeps them there? Money problems, maybe. Being too attached to their current job? Possibly. Or it could be that deep down they just don’t believe that they could ever find a job that pays well enough while also giving them the lifestyle they deserve.
I know the feeling. When I used to work for a share dealing company I made money, but I was never happy. When I told my boss I was going to quit my job I had sweat dripping down my forehead. This was while I was learning how to deal with fear in life. My heart beat like a kettle drum in my ears. Wasn’t easy. But I did believe that it would be possible for me to succeed doing a job I genuinely enjoyed.
That belief was what got me through.
You can discover your beliefs by asking some self reflection questions.
Create Positive Beliefs And You’ll Act In Positive Ways
Actions always stem from beliefs.
If you believe you have to struggle in order to make money, then you will struggle. It’s a self-fulfilling belief. You won’t ever change your action unless you change your beliefs first.
But if that’s the case, if beliefs cause action, how do you change your beliefs so you act in a more positive way?
Beliefs are illusive, difficult to target, difficult to change. But thanks to science we know that beliefs are created through emotions, and we can change those emotions.
As Mary C Lania, Ph.D says ,”Emotions are a powerful attention directing system—an amplification device—in our brain. They are responsible for creating the visceral responses regarded as feelings, that in turn are transformed into thoughts and the formation of beliefs to help us make sense of what we experience at the moment and to use for future reference. Even the most simple beliefs have emotional memory at their core.”
So now you know how to control your beliefs: by controlling your emotions. And there is a fantastic way to control your emotions: emotional memory technique.
I mastered the art of emotional memory technique when I was studying drama at Oxford. “Every feeling you’ve ever felt resides in your mind, waiting to be accessed,’ my teacher said. “The way to access those feelings is through emotional memory technique”.
Emotional memory technique is a tool that all method actors use when performing. They use the technique to create the real emotions that they need for their scenes.
Now obviously we don’t have “scenes.” Our scenes are our lives. They’re real, not some story. But even so, we can use emotional memory technique to create positive emotions, and those positive emotions will in turn create positive beliefs, and those positive beliefs will yield positive actions.
How To Control Your Beliefs Via Your Emotions
So, you now know how to control your beliefs: by controlling your emotions. But, er, how do you control your emotions?
So how do you control your emotions using emotional memory technique? Just as Eddie Redmayne does.
1. To start with spend five minute with your eyes closed meditating on breathing. Feel that calm and peacefulness. Let thoughts slip from your mind like leaves on a tree in autumn.
2. Now choose one positive emotion, a positive emotion that will bring positive belief that in turn will bring positive actions. For my friend, I asked him to imagine what it felt like when he was camping with his dad, those times when he said he “felt so free.” He brought the memories to mind.
3. Bring your own memory to mind. Next, focus on the different senses associated with that memory: the images, colours, sounds, and other sensations.
4. Soon you will find that part of your memory creates a powerful emotion. For my friend, it was the sight of his dad gazing out over a ravine while running his fingers along a map. When he came across that memory his entire face lit up with joy.
5. Keep focusing on that positive memory. Meditate on it (using Samatha meditation) for ten minutes. This will make you feel amazing. Right now I’m meditating on one time I was doing yoga atop King Arthur’s Hill in Edinburgh during a theatre tour. That memory brings so much positivity I feel electric. Your memory will bring similar results.
As scientific research has shown, this positive emotion will bring positive beliefs, and those positive beliefs will bring positive actions.
And that is the best way how to control your beliefs about your future. Simply pick a belief you need to change, choose a positive memory which will bring a related positive belief, and meditate on the memory. Goodbye bad beliefs. Hello good ones.
Do bear in mind though: it is a very good idea to change your mind externally.
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