From our earliest years, we start forming beliefs about who we are and what we’re capable of. We get these ideas through feedback from our family (maybe you were the smart one or the funny one, but not the sporty one) and then from our teachers and peers at school. We form beliefs not just based on what we’re told but on what we observe in the world around us.
Then we navigate our way through life carrying around a whole lot of ideas about what is possible for us, and make decisions based on those ideas without ever really checking in to see whether they’re true!
If you grew up with the idea that you were clever but not sporty, for example, you probably avoided trying out for team sports. And if you avoid sports, you never give yourself the opportunity to challenge that old belief so it stays put and becomes true for you. Vicious circle, right?!
Depending on what those beliefs are, they can seriously handbrake your ability to make progress on important goals.
The good news is that once you become aware that you have old beliefs or programs influencing your expectations of yourself and the actions you take in life, you can absolutely make a decision to do something about that because those stories do NOT necessarily have to be true.
Here are three steps to upgrading your self-belief and getting different results in life
1. Name the story
The first step to change is always awareness. Do a bit of a mental excavation and see if you can find ideas or beliefs (about yourself, your capabilities, your self-worth or what you think you deserve) that might be holding you back. Notice the things you regularly think (e.g., “I never finish what I start” or “I have no willpower”) and write them down.
2. Find and replace
Now you want to swap out some of those old limiting ideas and replace them with something more empowering. This is where some people have difficulty because if those old stories have been reinforced through years worth of your own behaviour, it can be hard to let go of them. The best way to do this is to swap out a disempowering belief such as “I’m an emotional eater” with a thought of possibility such as “I’m capable of learning new strategies to manage my emotions”. We’re not talking about chanting empty affirmations here, but planting new seeds of possibility in your mind, which you can strengthen with your behaviour.
3. Act as if it were true
Take one of these new thoughts of possibility and ask yourself how you would behave if it were true for you. If you really believed you were capable of supreme health and fitness, what actions might you take each day? If you believed you were deserving of love and respect, what would you no longer tolerate? If you believed you are as entitled as anyone to achieve all the success you hope for, how would your behaviour reflect that?
Start doing those actions and before you know it, you’ll be building new experiences and evidence to support your new, upgraded self-belief.
“Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right”. – Henry Ford