When you know how to change negative beliefs, you will take control of your life.
One of the best ways of improving self-esteem is by changing negative beliefs about yourself to positive ones.
How many of the following negative beliefs do you experience?
- Negative beliefs about money
- Negative beliefs about life
- Negative beliefs about worries that you may have
- Believing you are unlucky in life
- Negative beliefs about love and relationships
- Negative beliefs about the world
Science shows that beliefs affect your life.
VeryWellMind says, “Self-defeating thoughts are any negative views you hold about yourself and the world around you. Also known as mistaken or faulty beliefs, these views impact your self-esteem, the feelings you carry about your personal abilities, and your relationships with others.”
Negative beliefs about yourself are like shackles around your legs, preventing you from achieving good things in your life.
The Association for Psychological Science states that you must believe yourself in order to grow and to learn from your mistakes. In other words, negative self-belief can stop your personal development.
On the other hand, positive self-belief gives you the confidence and motivation to achieve your ambitions.
If you look at the most successful people in the world and listen to the way they talk about themselves, you will find that almost universally, these people have positive ideas about who they are and about their place in the world.
Sounds great if you are one of the lucky few individuals who value themselves highly, but what if you’re not? If you have a low send of self worth, how do you change beliefs about yourself?
The good news is that it is not as challenging as it may seem. With a little effort, you can change negative beliefs to positive ones, and doing so will massively change your perception of yourself and your position in the world.
Here’s Why Should Change Negative Beliefs To Positive
Below I will show you how to change negative beliefs about yourself. But first, why should you do it?
Positive self-beliefs can have a significant effect on the way you live your life. Imagine the athlete who truly believes they are going to win Olympic gold. Can you imagine how much motivation that would give them? Conversely, the athlete with zero self-belief will feel demotivated because they don’t believe they can win, so why bother trying?
One key to changing your beliefs about yourself is by changing your self-talk.
Writing for Psychology Today, James L Creighton Ph.D. says, “Working on your self-talk is a good way to challenge the idea that there’s some inherent flaw in your personality.”
Just by changing your negative self-talk, you can transform the way you feel about yourself, and in so doing you will transform your life.
Beliefs lie deep within our minds. They are the foundations of our psychology. Our personalities, our attitudes, our actions; these things are all affected by self-beliefs, positive and negative.
The human mind focuses on things that substantiate its beliefs. If you believe you are highly successful, your mind will filter out any evidence to the contrary. Your mind will search for evidence that supports your beliefs. At the same time, your mind will ignore all evidence that goes against your beliefs.
Your mind automatically scans-for evidence to support your beliefs. And it will create evidence to show that your beliefs are accurate.
- If you have positive beliefs about yourself, your mind will look for good things about you.
- If you have negative beliefs about yourself, your mind will look for negative things about you.
A large part of what motivates us in life is the need to prove that our beliefs are correct. Positive self-beliefs demand positive actions. Negative beliefs about yourself demand negative actions.
Here’s How To Change Negative Beliefs About Yourself To Positive
It is easy to see why it is so important to have positive self-belief. It is 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 more positive beliefs about yourself that you have, the better you will be.
- The people who succeed are the ones who believe they will succeed
- The high achievers are people who believe they will achieve things
- The happy people are the ones who believe they are happy
If your mind is full of negative beliefs about yourself (example: that you are born to fail), you will never be successful because your mind will create a reality that supports your negative self-beliefs.
Naturally, now that we have looked at the colossal impact that self belief had, you are eager to find and eliminate any negative belies. Meditation can be immensely valuable here. By meditating, you can silence your thoughts and uncover your belies, and from there you can change them.
Meditation for self-belief
Here’s the good news: there are some excellent meditations for self-belief that you can use to change negative beliefs about yourself to positive.
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.” And so you don’t go to the gym. You stay overweight. And you fail. All because of one negative belief about yourself that is holding you back.
What do you do?
Well, obviously, you just go to the darned gym already despite your negative belief. But it’s usually not that easy.
The problem is this:
Your negative beliefs usually aren’t immediately obvious. You might not know what your real beliefs are.
This might sound strange because if your beliefs are so important to you why would you be unaware of them? But beliefs are deeply ingrained in the subconscious and we are often not consciously aware fo them.
Answer these quick-fire questions to see how aware you are of your own beliefs:
Write down your answers for future use:
1) Name five positive beliefs you have about yourself
2) Name three ways in which you act-out those positive beliefs
3) Name five negative beliefs about yourself
4) Name three ways you act-out those negative beliefs
How to change negative beliefs about yourself:
5) Return to your list from above. Write down the opposite of each negative belief (if one negative belief was “I’m unattractive”, write down “I’m attractive”)
6) Decide one 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 one positive action you wrote down for each negative belief (from stage 6 above)
This technique will start to change your negative self-beliefs. It is my number one favourite self-belief exercise.
Uncovering beliefs with meditation
There is one problem with changing negative beliefs about yourself: Your mind often moves too fast for you to keep up.
Science Focus states that, “In the 19th Century, Hermann von Helmholtz estimated [the speed of thoughts] to be 35 metres per second, but we now know that some well-insulated nerves are faster, at up 120 metres per second.””
Catching your negative self-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.
Not only do you miss it, but that negative self-belief will also germinate.
While that negative self-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.
How Self Belief Affect You
Here is an example of a positive belief about yourself: 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.
Here is an example of a negative belief about yourself:
SELF-BELIEF: I’m fat so I don’t belong in the gym.
Observation: Yeah, my belly’s pretty massive. 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 negative belief about yourself? (Example)
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.
How To Change Beliefs About Yourself—Exercises
So now we understand why self-beliefs matter so much, what the hotcakes we gonna do about it?
Here’s how to improve self-belief.
Step 1: Meditate to slow your mind
There are over 100 benefits of meditation. And one of the best benefits is that it 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 will slow down your mind, heighten self-awareness, and make it easier for you to spot those pesky negative beliefs abut yourself.
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: 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.
- The 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 analyse 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.
So. Find your negative beliefs about yourself, write them down, and then act despite 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 other people will judge you negatively when they see you exercising.
And now you know that you can start to work on changing it.
Step 4: Smash through fear
If you manage to act despite this negative self belief, you will effectively be taking an axe to those negative beliefs and cutting and dicing them into oblivion.
The 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 hurts, 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.
How To Change Your Beliefs About Your 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, and 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.
The 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 Self 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 the 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 in doing a job I genuinely enjoyed.
That belief was what got me through.
Create Positive Self Beliefs, And You’ll Act In Positive Ways
Actions 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 actions unless you change your beliefs first.
But if that’s the case, if beliefs cause action, how do you change your self-beliefs so you act in a more positive way?
Beliefs are elusive, 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 change beliefs about yourself: 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”.
The 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 the 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 Change Beliefs About Yourself By Meditating On Your Emotions
Here’s how to improve self-belief by meditating. It’s an emotional memory recall technique used by actors.
- To start, spend five minutes 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.
- Now choose one positive emotion, a positive emotion that will bring the 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 memories to mind.
- Bring your own memory to mind. Next, focus on the different senses associated with that memory: the images, colours, sounds, and other sensations.
- 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.
- Keep focusing on that positive memory. Meditate on it. 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. This is the best way how to improve self belief.
And that is the best way how to change your beliefs about yourself. 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. And that is the best way how to improve self belief.
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Paul Harrison is a passionate meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison