you cannot, you’re usually right. – Henry Ford
When ideas are repeated over and over again they eventually become beliefs, or convictions, and they affect our decisions, behavior and perception of the world. Any idea that we accept as true will tend to become true for us, because we will act in a manner consistent with it. Your beliefs cause you to view, rationalize and interpret situations, people and especially yourself in accordance with those beliefs. This is because it is a natural function of the mind to remain congruent with what it has previously accepted as true. Basically, you do not necessarily believe what you see, but rather you see what you have already decided to believe. Your beliefs become your reality.
The beliefs that affect our lives are either empowering or limiting. Limiting beliefs hold us back from our goals or detract from our enjoyment of life, while empowering beliefs cause us to reach for our goals and enjoy a greater quality of life. To make sure that your beliefs are empowering, you should ask yourself – for every new idea you come across, and for every strong conviction you already have – whether or not it is useful. Does it give you more power, flexibility and choice, or does it take away? Do not judge your beliefs on whether they are accurate or not according to your perception, but focus on the consequences of believing in them. Beliefs have little to do with reality and you can change them any time you want. You can choose to replace limiting beliefs with beliefs that empower you, beliefs that are consistent with the life that you wish to enjoy.
There are many empowering beliefs worth having that can enhance your quality of life. You can find them by considering what you would have to believe in order to be, have or do what you want in life. Here is a list of empowering beliefs that contains some useful generalizations or assumptions. They may not always be “true”, but by convincing yourself that they are and acting as if you believe them, you will begin to see the world from a more resourceful perspective.
- There is no failure, only feedback. We learn from every experience and every response is only information that tells you whether you are being effective or not.
- There are no problems, only challenges. Every obstacle is actually a stepping stone towards success to help you learn and grow.
- There is no fear, only excitement. Let your fears motivate you to overcome them instead of holding you back.
- If what I am doing is not working I will try something else. Be flexible and do not resist change. For something new to happen you have to try something different.
- No matter what happens, I can handle it. Become confident that you can deal with anything that may happen in your life.
- My past does not equal my future. At any point in time you can change any part of your life.
- I am destined for success. Become absolutely convinced that you are a success in the making.
- Everyone is secretly helping me to succeed. The concept of pronoia – assume the best of intensions of everyone around you.
- Anyone can do anything and anything is possible. If one person in the world can do it anybody can by figuring out how they are doing it.
- I am free to choose my own destiny. Accept that you are in control of your own life, decisions and actions.
We all possess some beliefs that do not ultimately support us. These negative beliefs exist whenever we incorrectly believe ourselves to be limited in any way. Most of the limitations we have are not based in reality at all, but exist only in our own minds. Irrespective of whether the limiting beliefs are real or not, they can become true for us. For example, people who are convinced they cannot succeed in an area – such as weight loss, relationships or finances – will not take any action to go beyond the limits they have set for themselves. Even if someone or something got them to try, they would still expect to fail, subconsciously sabotaging their efforts. They would also filter out references that run contrary to their conviction, while looking for and amplifying references to support it.
Do you have limiting beliefs about life, yourself, people, health, happiness, relationships, money or education that stop you from achieving the level of success you want? What are the limiting beliefs that come up in your self-talk whenever you think of something that you could be, have or do? Write them all down. The simple fact that you are having trouble making progress in an area often means that you have limiting beliefs there. Below is a list of some example limiting beliefs. As you can see, they mostly consist of either excuses or limiting, generalized statements.
- Negative self-image beliefs – “I am too shy, old, young, weak, unlucky or incapable”.
- Limiting rules – “If only that happened, then I would be happy” or “I must have this to be able to feel successful”.
- Self-pity beliefs – “I do not deserve wealth, happiness or success”, “I am not good enough as I am”, “Other people are better than me”, “I do not like myself” or “I have to prove myself by becoming successful”.
- Self-defeating beliefs – “I cannot succeed so there is no point in trying” or “It takes money to make money”.
- Scarcity beliefs – “I do not have enough money, time or education”.
- Inflexible beliefs – “That will not work for me”, “That is impossible”, “I tried that once and it did not work” or “I am right and you are wrong”.
- Unsupportive metaphors, labels or perceptions – “Life is a pain, a struggle or hopeless”, “Money is bad, scarce or evil” or “People are mean, dishonest or selfish”.
The first step to changing limiting beliefs is to become aware of them. In addition to those you have already found, you will also begin to notice new ones whenever they show up in your life, as a result of learning that they exist. You may, for example, catch yourself arguing for your limitations or holding yourself back because of past failures. We can often remove weak beliefs by simply making the choice to do so as soon as we realize that they are limiting. However, stronger convictions may take a bit more convincing to get rid of permanently.
A belief is nothing but an idea or opinion built up of reference experiences, so the way to change a limiting belief is to undermine those references by using contradicting references. The contradicting references in turn then build up a new empowering belief that replaces your limiting belief. A limiting belief such as “I always fail” could for example be transformed into “there is no failure”. Take your list of limiting beliefs and rewrite them, one at a time, into empowering beliefs that support you.
When you encounter a strong limiting belief you can transform it by reflecting repeatedly on experiences that support your new empowering belief and that dismiss your limiting belief. We all have enough references to backup just about any belief, and we can even use other people’s success experiences, movies or even our own imagination as references to support our new beliefs. The more emotional and extreme the references are, the stronger our new empowering belief will become.
An important way in which beliefs impact our lives is through our expectations, or our beliefs about the future. Whatever we expect of ourselves becomes our own self-fulfilling prophecy, because we will always act to fulfill those expectations. If you confidently expect to be successful, wealthy, liked and happy, you will prepare for those results and will seldom be disappointed. The people around us are also strongly affected by our expectations of them and respond accordingly, whether it is about their behavior or how it is you want to be treated. The great thing about expectations is that you can expect whatever you want. You should therefore make it a habit to continually expect the very best of yourself and from life, and you will have one of the keys to success.
- Whatever we believe shapes our reality, because we always act in accordance with our beliefs.
- Develop a belief system that supports you in getting what you want.
- Challenge beliefs that do not support you and replace them with empowering beliefs.
- Confidently expect good things to happen to you.
Nick Hall - Change Your Beliefs, Change Your Life (audio)
Handbook of Success