Beliefs and Reality
It’s true that, for the most part, our beliefs determine our results and therefore, our reality. On many levels, we create what we believe. Not always, but in the majority of cases; especially when it’s comes to our personal experience. When we believe that something will be painful and difficult, we tend to turn that expectation into a personal reality. When we believe that a situation or circumstance will be stressful, it typically will be. Why? Because a stress response or a stressful experience is not so much about the situation or circumstance as it is about the person (and their personal beliefs, expectations, attitude, fear) in the middle of it.
It’s about you. It’s about me.
When we truly believe that we’ll never achieve a certain thing, the chances are we won’t. And not because we don’t necessarily have the potential, skill, time or opportunity but mostly because we don’t have the self-belief. Positive beliefs produce positive thoughts, decisions, behaviours and reactions which, in turn, are more likely to produce positive experiences, results and reality.
And naturally, negative beliefs will do the opposite.
And while that last paragraph might sound like self-help mumbo-jumbo and some kind of fluffy motivational psychology, it’s literally how this stuff works. It’s an insight into the relationship between our internal and external realities. Negative people tend to look for problems, barriers and reasons to fail while their positive counterparts look for solutions, opportunities and reasons to succeed.
In most cases, they will each find what they’re looking for.
I’ve spent many years working with people who have (or had) a gift for talking themselves down. People who would constantly default to their disempowering and self-limiting beliefs, thinking and expectations in order to rationalise, explain and accept mediocrity and failure in their world; people who have wasted too much time and talent.
Ability vs Belief
On of the toughest things about coaching people towards their best lives is not so much finding those who have the ability to do, be and create amazing in their world but, rather, finding people with the necessary set of beliefs to get them where they want to go. Remove, or at least manage, the negative beliefs and we begin to open a door to a whole new world of possibilities and, more importantly, probabilities. Positive beliefs put us in a more resourceful, creative, solution-focused and productive head-space. Which means we’re more likely to make the decisions and take the actions which will produce genuine and lasting transformation.
The common goal.
So, that’s a little of the theory but how do we produce literal, practical, observable and measurable change out here in the real world? And how do we change our beliefs along the way? What works and what doesn’t? Like most philosophical questions, there is no single best answer as different things prove to be more or less effective for different people. While some people sing the praises of techniques like daily affirmations, hypnosis and NLP, I can only share with you what has proven to be most effective for the people I’ve worked with over my journey. And when I say effective, I’m talking about strategies and techniques which have resulted in lasting change; not some short-term behavioural, emotional or psychological shift.
The Change is in the Doing
My experience tells me that it’s impossible to think, wish or hope our way to a better practical reality. Or, to new-and-improved beliefs. In fact, more often than not, it’s our thinking that’s the problem in the first place. For most of us, the transformation of our beliefs comes not in the thinking (or as is often the case, the over-thinking) but, rather, in the doing. When we do new things and, more specifically, things which make us uncomfortable and push our boundaries, our level of expectation (regarding what’s possible and probable for us) changes. And so to do our beliefs.
New experiences produce new beliefs.
When the girl who has never run five kilometres does so, her self-doubt, fear and limiting thinking turn into positive expectation and confidence because she now has indisputable knowledge of her running capability. She also has a new empowering belief as a byproduct of her ‘doing’. She didn’t wish or think the new belief into existence, she ran it!
The potential to run five kilometres was always there but not the belief.
A shy and introverted friend of mine recently bought herself a house. All by herself. I saw her last week and she is like a totally different person. She has done something that she thought she could never do alone. A year of researching, learning about the market, attending auctions, dealing with banks and getting uncomfortable has transformed her. Her self-belief has gone through the roof all because of her doing. Her goal wasn’t to change her beliefs. Her goal was to buy a house and in the process, she happened to acquire some new beliefs and undergo something of a personal transformation.
If you’re a person who has a history of being held back – or maybe even controlled - by your self-limiting beliefs, here are some belief-changing suggestions for you:
1. Do one new mildly uncomfortable thing each day. This could be as minor as saying hello to a stranger, telling someone how you feel, jogging around the block, painting some furniture, cleaning a room or changing a tyre.
2. Once a week, challenge yourself to do something which makes you moderately uncomfortable. This could be physical, emotional or psychological discomfort. Or, all three!
3. Once a month, do something which requires a level of courage and commitment that will make you a little queasy in the guts. Technically speaking.
4. Plan and work towards something big. Something which is a major achievement for you. It could be something physical like running a marathon, competing in a body-building or shaping show or it might be jumping out of a plane. It could be something a little more cerebral and emotional like starting a business, enrolling in a university course, overcoming a habit, writing a book, making your stand-up comedy debut or buying a property.
So, are your current beliefs empowering you or holding you back?
Is it time to create some new ones?