Power of thought

– you are what you think!

Thoughts, self-talk or whatever you call it, are so tied in with beliefs, that when you change your thinking, only then can you change your beliefs. ‘Why might I want to change my beliefs?’ you may ask. Well, changing your beliefs is the key to unlocking your full potential. No doubt you would have heard of ‘limiting beliefs’…these are thoughts or opinions that one believes to be the absolute truth. Limiting beliefs generally have a negative impact on someone’s life by preventing them from moving forward and experiencing personal or professional growth. As Tony Robbins once said, “The only thing that’s keeping you from getting what you want is the story you keep telling yourself.” Your beliefs are shaped by your thoughts.

How do limiting beliefs show up and impact behaviour?

Limiting beliefs mostly fall into one of three categories; about yourself, about others and about life in general. They show up in your behaviour and can result in things like avoidance, procrastination, conformism, overthinking, anxiety, imposter syndrome etc. You may want to do something but blame others for not letting you or you say you can’t do something because you think you aren’t any good at it. Often emotions are also involved; such as feelings of guilt or embarrassment. And external factors such as there not being enough time “I’m too busy”, or facing disapproval “My parents would never approve”, also come into it.

Take an individual who has all these thoughts, limiting beliefs and consequential negative behaviours and put them amongst a team with individuals who are all operating the same way – the impact on culture within an organisation’s workplace can be huge. However when one individual changes, it can be like a ripple in the ocean that causes a wave of positivity that is contagious. Making for a happier and more productive work environment.

Change your thinking, change your life…here’s how 

So in order to change your behaviour, you need to change your beliefs. In order to change your beliefs you need to change your thinking. How? Fortunately the brain is changeable, scientists call this neuroplasticity. With some focus and dedication there is plenty you can do to become the person you have always aspired to be.

Some tips on changing your thinking and beliefs:

  1. Eliminate the absolutes from your thinking and keep open minded (e.g. NEVER, CAN’T, IMPOSSIBLE etc). Aim to replace irrational thoughts with rational ones. Consider that you may be wrong and challenge your beliefs…as soon as you entertain the idea that the belief may be wrong, it will begin to lose its power
  2. Discover how the limiting belief is serving you. Is it just a belief that you have held on to because of a historical circumstance that has no bearing on now? You may find you can release these habitual thoughts because they are no longer helpful
  3. Create new beliefs. To remove the outmoded beliefs you need to replace them with new ones. Come up with a few different alternatives to your original belief/assumption. This will help you see that you have options and that beliefs are simply a choice that you are making in each and every moment of your life that until now you probably haven’t been very conscious of
  4. Test your new beliefs. Now put your new beliefs to the test and see if they work! It is only by ‘trying them on’ that you will be able to develop the evidence to show that your original beliefs were wrong and firmly establish this new way of being
  5. Use mindfulness and/or meditation to become more aware of your thoughts. Many people aren’t even aware of their thoughts unless they deliberately engage in activity that allows them to be more conscious of their thoughts. By practicing a technique every day to develop awareness of thoughts, you will be better placed to ensure your thoughts are helping to create the beliefs you want to instil. It takes self-awareness and courage, however you owe it to yourself to be your own best friend rather than enemy…time to get your thoughts shaping a better version of you! There is always room for growth.

Books on changing thoughts and beliefs 

To name a few…
  • Change your thoughts, change your life – by Dr Wayne Dyer
  • Awaken the giant within – by Anthony Robbins
  • How to win friends and influence people – by Dale Carnegie
  • Rich dad, poor dad – by Robert Kiyosaki
  • Atomic habits – by James Clear (strictly this is not about thoughts/beliefs but about structuring your life in a way that will help facilitate opportunities to practice meditation/mindfulness and use other positive tools) 

author:

Mark Douglas

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