Why do we do what we do? Talk about a loaded question, huh?
Well I have a simplified, yet accurate, answer for you… because our beliefs tell us to.
Your mind is an insanely complex cluster of beliefs—all of which dictate how you assign meaning to the external events in your life.
Think about it.
We don’t experience the world, we experience our thoughts and beliefs about the world.
If you haven’t been too enthusiastic over the quality of your behaviors, emotions, and overall life, you can blame your beliefs—specifically your limiting beliefs. Somewhere deep inside your mind you have destructive, limiting beliefs contaminating your experiences.
As it turns out:
When you break free from your limiting beliefs, you will effectively alter your entire outlook on life!
No longer will you be held back by irrational thoughts and behaviors associated with inaccuracies, anxiety, self-doubt, and other negative filters.
Let’s take a look at a couple simple steps you can take to rewire your limiting beliefs and start realizing the potential these beliefs have been holding back.
What To Do
Step 1: Become self-aware
Self-awareness is our thinking about our thinking. The human brain is very good at this. This is why we dominate the animal kingdom.
Let’s use it.
Simply becoming aware that you carry these limiting beliefs can sometimes be all you need to improve your situation.
Our attitudes and behaviors flow out of our paradigms, if we use our self-awareness to examine them, we can often see in them the nature of our underlying maps. – Stephen R. Covey
The best way to become consciously aware of our thinking is by monitoring our self-talk.
Take a look at the situations where you normally fall short, experience severe anxiety, or avoid altogether. Pay special attention to your thoughts at this time because these are going to be your high-level limiting beliefs.
Jot down these thoughts/beliefs. Then proceed…
Step 2: See it but don’t necessarily believe it
You are NOT your thoughts—unless YOU allow yourself to be.
Now that you have a good idea of what your limiting beliefs are, you can recognize that these thoughts may be completely irrational!
In case you didn’t know…
Not all thoughts are valid. Many actually stem from beliefs you formed when you were a small child.
Well guess what?
You’re not a child anymore! So some of these ingrained beliefs are no longer useful in your adult life (i.e. “You shouldn’t talk to strangers”).
If your beliefs don’t serve you, don’t just blindly trust them!
Step 3: Write a better story
Every external event in your life is innately neutral—in other words, a blank page.
It is only when we start creating stories in our minds about these events, do they gain meaning and thus power.
Lucky for us (if used correctly), the human brain has extraordinary creative faculties. You can literally assign any meaning you’d like to an event.
What’s the bottom line?
The pen is yours—and it is up to you to write a more constructive and empowering story.
These stories will shape your internal representations. And these internal representations will become your new beliefs.
Step 4: Do it like a baby
You know what babies are good at?
Crying, yes I know. But they are also amazing at learning and retaining.
What’s their secret?
They take baby steps!
Babies see us strolling around on two legs all the time, yet their brains quickly realize they wouldn’t achieve this in one shot. So instead, they reverse engineer the behavior and conceive a plan—to learn to roll before they crawl, crawl before they stand, and stand before they walk.
Somewhere along the line (for reasons that are way beyond the scope of this post), many adult brains have lost this ability. They fiend for the magic pill that will transform them overnight. And when they can’t hit it out the park on the first try, they become discouraged and give up.
Determine the absolute smallest, simplest, easiest step you can take, and start there.
But how do you know what that step is?
By imagining in your mind’s eye how you would think and behave if your new story/belief had come natural to you.
Then, pick one teeny tiny difference between the visualized you and the current you. It could be a simple thought, behavior, even how you are standing.
Practice implementing it in your life every chance you get.
Once you got the hang of it, find another small difference and repeat.
If you try to change everything at once, you become too overwhelmed to complete step 5. Don’t try to be a hero… at least not yet.
Step 5: Pay attention dammit
The evidence is there.
I promise you, no matter what new story you created, there will be external signals to back it up and solidify your new belief. It’s only a matter of finding these signals.
You might be wondering:
What if I can’t find the evidence?
See, our brains have a region called the Reticular Activating System, which filters all the external data coming in from the outside world.
All we need to do to activate the RAS in our favor, is remain mindful of the new belief we are trying to instill. The RAS will deem any data relevant to this belief as extra important and thus cause it to stick out like a sore thumb.
Ever want a certain type of car, then all the sudden start seeing it EVERYWHERE? That is your RAS at work.
The more proof you see, the stronger and more efficient you make the neural pathways associated with this new belief.
Once these pathways become stronger than the pathways of your old belief, you have successfully rewired your limiting belief.