Negative versus positive beliefs

I have mentioned in previous posts the importance of being aware of what you think and what you say to yourself. Our thoughts and beliefs are stories and impressions that we have gathered about ourselves and the world around us based on messages that we receive from the environment. When I refer to environment I mean our parents, school teachers and peers. As we develop and grow we are constantly receiving messages such as “you are too fat”, “you are ugly”, “you will never be slim, because everyone in our family is overweight, it is in our genes”, “you are not clever enough”, “your sister is the pretty one”. Because these messages are repeated over and over again they become who we are and believe them implicitly. Our beliefs predict success or failure, if we want to change our results we need new beliefs.

“Belief is a thought in your mind that causes the power of your subconscious to be distributed into all phases of your life according to your thinking habits. The belief of your mind is simply the thought of your mind. It is foolish to believe in something that will hurt or harm you. It is worth noting that it is not the thing believed in that hurts or harms you, but the belief or thought in your mind that creates the result. All your experiences, all your actions, and all the events and circumstances of your life are but the reflections and reactions to your own thought.” Source: The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind” by Dr. Joseph Murphy, D.R.S., PhD., D.D., L.L.D.

We believe what we are told about ourselves when we are young because we have no way of testing, and these beliefs often persist unmodified. Our beliefs strongly influence our behaviour. They motivate us and shape what we do.
High expectations (providing they are realistic), build competence. Low expectations instil incompetence.

Throughout my primary school years I was constantly told by my teachers that I was not as clever as my brother and that “I should be more like him”; This judgement was continuously repeated at home by my parents. I always remember the time when, like all 11 year olds in the UK at that time I sat the 11+ exam. This exam was a selection process that all children had to go through where the results determined which high school the children would attend but also career options. If a child “passed” then they would go to a Grammar School; If they “failed” they would go to a Secondary Modern School. The Grammar School kids were expected to take GCE ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels and go on to further higher education. The majority of Secondary Modern kids left school at 15 and were expected to work in shops, offices and factories. In both institutions what was expected became the reality. My brother did not pass the 11+ and everyone was astounded; All his friends went to the Grammar School and he felt a failure and subsequently stopped trying so hard; Because my brother failed I was told that I had no chance of passing. Because I wasn’t expected to pass I didn’t take it seriously and failed.

My High school results were fairly predictable because of the double whammy labels both at home and at school. If just one person believed in me and encouraged me I might have been motivated to learn. It took many years for me to believe in myself and study. When we believe something, we act as if it is true. What we do (try or not try) maintains and reinforces what we believe. Beliefs are not just maps of what has happened, but blueprints for future actions.

The best way to find out what you are capable of is to pretend you can do it. Act “as if” you can. What you can’t do, you won’t. We are not born with beliefs as we are with eye colour and they can be a matter of choice. You can drop beliefs that limit you and build beliefs that will make your life more fun and more successful. Positive beliefs allow you to find out what could be true and how capable you are. They are permissions to explore and play in the world of possibility.

Think of some of the beliefs you have about yourself. Are they useful? Are they permissions or barriers? An essential part of being successful is having beliefs that allow you to be successful. Empowering beliefs will not guarantee you success every time, but they keep you resourceful and capable of succeeding in the end.

You might like to think of 3 beliefs that have limited you and write them down. Now imagine how your life will be in five years if you continue to act as if these limiting beliefs were true. How will your life be in ten years? In twenty?
Take a moment to clear your mind. Stand up, walk around or take a few deep breaths. Now think of three new beliefs that would empower you, that would truly enhance the quality of your life. Write them down. Now imagine yourself acting as if these new beliefs were really true. How will your life be in five years now? In ten years? In twenty?

Changing beliefs allows behaviour to change, and it changes quickest if you are given a capability or strategy to accomplish the task. NLP techniques provides such strategies for change.

Read this article Beliefs, Values and the Vacuum of Choice by Dr Patrick Jemmer


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