“As we develop new beliefs about who we are, our behaviour will change to support the new identity.” – Tony Robbins
Our beliefs shape our identity by influencing our behaviour. For instance if you don’t believe that you can achieve your goals, you don’t even try to act in the direction of achieving them or might even give up on them really quickly. We always do things in the direction of our faith and belief. If you believe that you can be of what you want to be, you can work towards changing yourself either by imroving your skills, or developing new habits, or work on other aspects of your life in order to be that person. On the other hand, if you believe that nothing will ever change or there is nothing you can do to change it, you continue to do same old things and this will become your self limiting prophecy. So, your belief system has lot of impact on your success or lack of success. For instance if you believe that you’re capable, competent, and deserving, you’re more likely to look for opportunities that could help you get there.
Doing what you believe to be true can bring out some of your inner leadership abilities and can take you nearer to your greatest achievements. For instance, a person who initiates change believes he/she knows where that change will lead to. In other words your belief system is the invisible force behind your behaviour, be it your habits, or personality, or any decisions that you make, or the way you communicate or react to anything.
Importance of your beliefs
Your beliefs also influence your health behaviours. Research shows that people are more likely to engage in healthy habits if they have a greater sense of self-belief. A stronger self-beleif can help you in dealing uncertainty and anxiety thereby maintaining your emotional well-being. Here is why your beliefs play an important role in your personal and professional lives.
•Beliefs provide clarity. The moment you believe in things you value, you find your way to achieve them.
•Beliefs empower you to overcome obstacles. If you don’t believe in something that makes your goals worth striving for, you will lack the enthusiasm ṭo overcome failure or difficulties.
•Beliefs take you in the right direction. If you don’t know what you believe to be true, you’ll tend to drift from your purpose and priorities.
•Beliefs influence your choices and decisions you make.
•Beliefs will determine your expectations and perceptions of your reality.
•Beliefs encourage your critical and creative thinking skills.
•Beliefs determine your goals and how you about accomplishing them.
• Your beliefs form the foundations of your self-concept and how you see yourself.
Understanding your belief system
Beliefs are conditioned perceptions that are built upon your experiences of past and present together with other factors such as your personality, habits, and so on. Some of your beliefs are based on your interpretations, emotions, or thoughts which you judge to be true and some come from your friends, family, and environment. Deeply ingrained beliefs act as commands to your nervous system and uses them as shortcuts for pattern recognition. When we process new information, we try to fit the new information into an already existing belief system thus leading to distortions, biases and errors. We generalise and make assumptions based on similarity to previous recognised patterns while drawing conclusions.
We hold on to most of our beliefs to fulfil our needs, whether that is related to feeling loved, secure, or sense of belonging, or to develop our self-esteem. We experience less stress, fear, and anxiety holding on to our belief system. But when your belief system is not aligned with the goals and objectives you would like to achieve, you often feel limited, stuck and unfulfilled. This is because when you have a deeply ingrained pre-existing belief, which is limiting, your mind will find evidence to support that belief.
But if overtime, you are exposed to empowering beliefs, you will start to question your existing disempowering beliefs. This is more like water dripping on a rock where the shift in your existing belief system will happen but takes long time. Instead if you consciously make an effort to transform your old beliefs that no longer serve your purpose, the process can be faster even with the ones that you held dear or which were once part of your identity.
Why is it hard to change your belief system
Sometimes to learn something, you might have a belief problem. When you come across a different environment or circumstance which exposes you to a different belief system, you face resistance to get adopted to new ones. Also, a sudden disruption of your old beliefs can effect your sense of self and your emotional stability. This is because we don’t work towards changing our awareness or beleif. Our life changes, but our beliefs remain constant.
It is hard changing from your prior beliefs as your opinions turn into deeply ingrained beliefs due to repeated situations that prove their legitimacy. Over time they grow more strong, consistent and stable and get intertwined with how you define yourself by preserving a constant self-image. As a result, you become highly resistant to change whenever you are exposed to a highly different view point as compared to your own belief system.
Also as people invest a lot of personality in their belief system, or structure their whole life around a belief, changing their mind through disproving previously held beliefs can make them experience emotions such as anger, anxiety, confusion, and frustration.
If you have a set of strong beliefs that are in conflict with your goals, or new ideas, or new beliefs, then you will likely to sabotage your efforts in moving forward in achiving them. This is because when you face situations where your pre-existing belief system gets so strongly threatened, you experience negative emotions making you think there is something wrong with you. You become emotionally entangled with ideas you come to believe are true and this causes you ṭo pay more attention to ideas that support your current belief and disprove ideas that contradict your current belief. But it doesnt mean that your beleifs cannot be replaced or can be stabilised once replaced. Beleifs have a capacity to reach a state of equilibrium, can adapt and repeat themselves.
How to build new beliefs into your belief system?
When you embrace the process to build new beliefs into your belief system, your view point can evolve into something very different than what it used to be. That is when real self-change happens. So when you are exposed to new ideas and beliefs, instead of being anxious and confused, accept that period of time as it is. It may be very well a period during which your belief system is restructuring due to things you have experienced or ideas you have been exposed ṭo. Your belief system is striving to adapt itself to the new conditions and towards a state of stability. You can use this time to expose yourself to the right ideas and right environment which will help you to go in the direction of your desired goals. You can use this time to be reflective by asking yourself ‘what resistance are you feeling while thinking about achieving your goal?’ Or ‘which beliefs are holding you back to achieve your goal?’ Or ‘which beliefs you now started to question?’ Or which new beliefs you can expose yourself to progress in the direction of your goals?’ Here is how you can build your new empowering beliefs in to your belief system.
Reframe your limiting beleifs. Each of your belief exists because it sees a purpose or it is protecting you from something. But not all of them might be purposeful. Most of the times, you exaggerate based upon how you visualise,hear, and feel things internally. To move forward from such pre-existing limiting beliefs, you have to reframe your limiting beliefs. By doing this, you can convince yourself that the value you derive from your new empowering belief is mich more and thus can align with your goals.
Create new beliefs that are aligned with the goals you would like to achieve. Choose a new empowering belief according to the goal that you want to achieve, the person you want to become, and the values you want to represent. By asking yourself how this belief can empower you in the long-term or how it can change your life for the better, you can change your old beliefs systems and create new beliefs that serve your purpose.
Strengthen your new beliefs.As you work through your belief transformation, you must be open to possibilities, new perspectives, and you must accept alternate view points. Be receptive to new beliefs and willingness ṭo adapt to changing conditions and circumstances can help you strengthen your new belief system. Adopt new habits, decisIons,and actions that support your new beliefs. By building the evidence in favour of your empowering belief you can strengthen and change your mindset.
Condition yourself to new belief. You can do this by making necessary changes to your environment, thoughts, communication patterns, values and so on to support your new empowering belief. If you still face resistance to your new belief, you will find it difficult to adopt it. Asking yourself whether your thoughts and perspectives are in alignment with your new belief, or how must you change other aspects of your life to integrate new beliefs successfully into your life can help you to adjust to your new belief system.
Finally, Get into the habit of using your new empowering belief until it begins to feel familiar. Stay flexible in your approach and make corrections when required. Your new belief might need some alternations and this you can figure out only when you begin to take proactive action towards the attainment of your goals by puttinag them to use.
As you read this, take some time to reflect upon your belief systems.
What are the new beliefs that you want to create in your life?
Which beliefs are disempowering your self-change?
Which empowering beliefs you can build that will help you in the process of achieving your cherished goals?
What evidences you can look for that support your new beliefs?
By taking conscious control over your beliefs, you can integrate your empowering thoughts into your belief system.
“Love what you do and do what you love. Passion is the key that opens the door to joy and abundance.” – David Cuschieri
We cannot always associate success with either wealth or fame. To live successfully, you have to make choices that help you connect with what you most desire and your cherished goals. Finding and following one’s passion is a key to success and is important to live with happiness and fulfilment. Pursuing your life with passion also makes you more self-aware and self-confident. We might have our passion, but life doesn’t always afford us opportunities to follow our passions and we struggle to find passion in what we do on a daily basis. Also, as we go through life in a busy and monotonous way, our interests and passions take a back seat and we make money and career a priority. As a result, we lose touch with things that bring us happiness and we forget to search meaning and purpose in our life. Sometimes our limiting beliefs,or unresolved emotions, or self-doubt hold us back from living our life with passion.
What is passion?
Passion means having keen enthusiasm or intense desire for something. But it is not just enough to have enthusiasm and excitement, you should be able to channel this desire and enthusiasm to achieve what you really want to. Passion is ambition that is materialised into action. At the same time, passion cannot be considered as a starting point or an end point as your passions evolve as you grow. You might lose your passion for something as your interests change. Some people may discover what their passions are early in life while some discover their interests as they go through their life experiences. In fact even for high achievers, the road to their passion wasn’t easy enough as most of them spent long time exploring different possibilities. In other words, your passion can’t be the totality of your life nor it means that you have to get set on a singular idea. But just wishing or feeling passion for things and not working towards them is not being passionate. Living to your highest potential and working towards things you wish for is what is considered as living with passion.
There is no passion to be found playing small, in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” –Nelson Mandela
Why is passion important?
Whether you are considering starting a new business or turning a hobby into a career, or working on any other dimension of your life, it is important that you pursue them with passion. You cannot give your complete attention to your work or stick with it in the long run if you are not interested. To be successful in your endeavours, passion is not the only ingredient, you also require intellect, discipline, persistence and hard work along with passion. But at the same time, passion becomes an important ingredient as it can motivate you intrinsically. We all need motivation in order to stay peristent in our efforts to realise our goals or to pursue our what we love. But extrinsic motivation in the form of rewards like fame and money can only get you started, whereas passion keeps you intrinsically motivated which can lead to life-changing improvements and well-being and thus provide long-term motivation to stick to your goals. The more enthusiasm and the inner desire you have, the more inclined you will be to persist in your efforts. Passion increases your resilience quotient in the face of any obstacles or difficulties.
Most people are compelled to take up certain jobs for the need of a steady income or to fulfil their responsibilities even when they are not fully interested in those fields of work. Some might end up finding their passion in what they chose. But many continue to stay in them in order to fulfill their needs making them inherently dissatisfied in the long run giving rise to stress, boredom and discontentment. However, in such cases, if they find a way to pursue their interests in their free time, it can make them a lot more happier during the activities as well as for some time later and thus can remain less stressed even in thier regular work hours. When you feel truly driven, you naturally have the zest, energy, and enthusiasm providing you a renewed sense of meaning and accomplishment and this feeling can keep you motivated in other areas of your life as well.
Loving what you do or living with passion improves your happiness quotient giving you moments where time loses its relevance and keeps you less stressed and highly motivated. There are many factors that hold you back from living your life with meaning and passion. Here are some such reasons.
• Not having enough time to pursue your passion.
• Limiting beliefs and negative thinking.
•Fear of failure or what if scenarios and self-doubt.
• Indecisiveness or lack of clarity of what you really want.
• Having unrealistic expectations.
• Focusing only on external rewards.
• Unwillingness to leave your comfort zone.
How to live with more passion
We all have a tendency to view life in a complete opposite way from how it should be–simple, interesting, happy and fulfilled. Instead, we become too hard on ourselves making our lives complicated, busy, boring, and not happy with whatever we are doing. Some might discover early in life. But for some, it gets difficult to find what they are truly passionate about. Also sometimes an overt fixation on your passion, whether by dedicating your whole life to it at the expense of all other things can lead to problems. Living your life with passion is not all about being obsessed with the goal, but finding a right balance in life, by loving what you do and being content in focusing your efforts on getting close to your ambitions and desires. Here is how to achieve living with more passion.
Gain clarity on your core values
Many of us lead our lives based on outside influences which often lead us to unhappiness and inner turmoil. By living in alignment with your values and personal strengths, you can be more aware of what really drives you. If you don’t know what makes you passionate–Gain clarity on your core values, strengths, interests, skills, motivations and talents. This can make you more decisive in channelling your efforts towards purposeful action. You can connect to your core values by asking the following questions.
• What inspires you the most?
• What are you best at?
• What do you love and desire?
• What activities allow you to be creative?
• What is your definition of success?
Stop internalising your fear of failure
Most of us are too fearful in pursuing our passions or to make necessary life changes or to turn our passion into a full time career. Fear of failure creates self-doubt which takes us away from positive momentum to live passionately. Internalising failure strengthens your self-doubt preventing you from moving forward creating what if scenarios. If fear is stopping you from pursuing your passion, take time to reflect on the real impact of that setback. Often your fears blow such situations out of proportion. Learn to embrace failure as a valuable part of success and as part of following your dreams. Also, it is not necessary that if you failed in one pursuit, there aren’t any other possibilities. There are many ways to pursue your passions if you are willing to take risks and willing to step out of your comfort zone.
Many people have innate talents and hobbies which they turn into rewarding careers, but this doesn’t mean that those without any talents cannot live passionately. Cultivating skill that can make you better at what you do can give you a leg up in your field. Improving upon some of your abilities will help you improve your job satisfaction more than initial enthusiasm ever will. The idea that you will find success only if you follow your heart may be true only if you have a passion to follow. If have no passions, cultivating skills within your current framework can be more satisfying . Getting better at things that are valuable, provides a deeper source of meaning and helps you live with contentment. Stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone to deliberately learn a skill can bring out your passionate self.
Set expectations to preempt distractions
Establishing a set of concrete goals based on your passions can prevent you from drifting off course due to various other distractions. Turn your passion into clear goals and set boundaries so that you no longer at the mercy of outside circumstances. Laying down ground rules of what is acceptable, or what you wont allow yourself to indulge in and setting goals can stop you from procrastinating especially if you are palnning on pursuing your passion in your free time or as your career. Making a mental picture of where you want to be can provide motivation to ‘zone-in’ your passions. Turn your passion into concrete goals, set clear boundaries and outline your plan of action to achieve them.
“Passion and purpose go hand in hand. When you discover your purpose, you will normally find it’s something you’re tremendously passionate about.”~ Steve Pavlina
Use your free time
Not everyone has an opportunity to pursue their hobbies full time. For many, time is a constraint to pursue what they really like to do because of their busy schedules. You can use your free hours effectively to pursue some new things that interests you, or explore new activities, pursuits that help you live passionately. Making time for your passion requires simplifying some of your daily tasks and schedules. Sometimes turning your passion into an obligation can also make you find time for it. Trade your free time for your activities that you are passionate about. They could be writing, or taking a hobby class, or engaging in any activity you love. This can leave you more energized and motivated in your monotonous lifestyle.
Overcome your ‘limiting self’
“ Finding your passion isn’t just about careers and money. It’s about finding your authentic self. The one you’ve buried beneath other people’s needs.” –Anonymous
To live with passion is to address your negative and limiting beliefs. Challenge your limiting self that worries about outside influences and allowing others to decide what’s best for you. Sometimes, we abandon our passions to fit in, or to follow rules or for being acceptable to others. Not following your passion because of your limiting self makes you unhappy, because you you might alwasys be comparing your situation with the ideal that is following your passion could be. By making your decisions based on your authentic self can not only create a fulfillling life, but also makes you more self-aware, confident and more evolved.
What is your passion? Think about your own interesting pursuits. Things that you love to pursue. Think of what inspires you and what you have been wanting to do. Pursue things that brings true meaning and fulfilment whether it is in your work, or the job you do, or any other dimension of your life. Loving what you do can bring out the most authentic version of you, at work and in life. Follow the above strategies to create the space and time to invest in your passions. Align your passions with whatever you are doing to make your life more joyous and meaningful.
“The stream of thinking has enormous momentum that can easily drag you along with it. Every thought pretends that it matters so much. It wants to draw your attention in completely.” – E.Tolle
Thoughts are those subjective pictures, sounds and words — and the beliefs, associations, interpretations, opinions and meanings that pass through our mind or hold our attention. Thoughts arise of their own accord and everyday we experience thousands of thoughts and they are the background noise of our inner mental landscape. Whether positive or negative these thoughts clutter your minds, just like your house gets cluttered when you have too many possessions. Unfortunately clearing your mental clutter isn’t as simple as eliminating a possession. You cant throw away a thought. Your thoughts have a way of popping back up as you turn them down especially the disturbing ones.
When unwanted thoughts get your conscious attention, they manifest as moods, emotions, desires, impulses and influence your behaviour. Most of them are unhelpful that are intrusive, involuntary and negative in nature. Such random and problematic intrusive thoughts interfere with your clear thinking, distort your reality, control your moods or limit your potential self.
Being controlled by unpleasant or intrusive thoughts which pop into your mind can result in thought disturbances that are hard to manage. According to a research, most people are mind wavering 47% of their day. Mind wavering can be largely attributed to thought disturbances. However, struggling with, arguing with, trying to drown out or push away such unhelpful thoughts only amplifies them and you may find it difficult to get past such thoughts.
Why are some thoughts intrusive?
Some of our thoughts take the form of fear of the future, or negative memories of the past, or inappropriate that are unhelpful and unpleasant. They seem to appear out of almost no where and cause a great deal of anxiety. Intrusive thoughts are reinforced when you get entangled with them creating doubts about your decisions or your identity or safety. If not managed well, they can cause much distress and they may even lead to certain obsessive behaviours and can negatively impact your well-being.
Are intrusive thoughts normal?
You cannot will yourself not to think any such thoughts or to keep them out of your mind. Eventually thoughts like that drift back into your mind and rise to the surface. Having such thoughts is absolutely normal and many experience unwanted thoughts on a daily basis, but fixating or believing in them or getting controlled by them leads to problems and may cause unhealthy or dysfunctional behaviours. Because of the content of such thoughts is mostly alien or unacceptable and is at odds with who you are, they make you anxious. One of the common myth is that having such thoughts mean that you unconsciously want to do the things that come into your mind. This is not true and in fact trying to fight or avoiding them only ends up in reinforcing them. Knowing how to deal with invasive thoughts can be the key to prevent them from negatively impacting your normal functioning.
How to tame your intrusive thoughts…
Do you ever worry with your thoughts of such intrusive or obsessive nature? You would have noticed that the harder you try to suppress or to distract or substitute such thoughts, the more you tend to get caught up in them. Learning to deal with them effectively can reduce your fearful and negative reaction towards them but also reduces your over sensitivity towards such thoughts. Here is how you can tame your intrusive thoughts.
Accept your intrusive thoughts
Many of us avoid them because we are afraid of negative, fearful, unpleasant, disgusting thoughts; afraid of mental impulses. We tend to avoid intrusive thoughts because we don’t know how to deal with them. An emotional reaction to how you think just keeps them alive. This means that they will appear over and over until you do actually deal with them. Treating them real or avoiding them or trying to change your behaviour based on such thoughts only leads to a compulsive behaviour. You should learn the fact that sometimes the content of such thoughts is meaningless and irrelevant.
Instead of reacting to them as though they are real, Accept them and tell yourself the truth that they have no intrinsic reality and you aren’t purposefully thinking the thought and it doesn’t represent you. Accepting them stops you to react negatively to intrusive thoughts.
Practice ‘cognitive diffusion’
You have a choice in how you choose to respond to intrusive thoughts. This is possible when you are able to identify intrusive thought patterns that end up creating negative emotions or feelings. Here are certain patterns to help you recognise your unhelpful thoughts.
• Thoughts of imagined future or expecting bad things lead you to what-if scenarios causing fear, anxiety and worry.
• Focusing on your weaknesses or perceived flaws results in thoughts of not being good enough. Such patterns often increase your negative self-talk and self-criticism.
• Dwelling on your bad choices and wrong actions leads to thoughts of worthlessness and ruminating over your past mistakes creates thoughts of shame and guilt.
• Habit of lamenting in your sorrows and problems makes you fixate in thoughts based on what’s wrong rather than what’s right. This leads to frustration and wishing things were different.
Stepping back from your repetitive and unhelpful intrusive thoughts, by recognising and identifying them is the process of cognitive diffusion. When you are fused with your thoughts, you tend to believe and take them seriously as you buy into them, obey them and play them out. But by learning to see the thoughts simply as they are — as thoughts and not reality, you can step back into cognitive diffusion. You can hold on to them lightly and do not take your thoughts seriously. You only listen to them if you find them helpful or valuable. Being aware of unhelpful thought patterns when they arise will help you to not to get entangled in and they lose their power to generate unpleasant emotions.
Label your intrusive thoughts
In order not to get stuck in some of your negative thought patterns, it is important to name your thought. When an unhelpful thought pattern arises, simply labelling it mentally can reduce your reaction.
Intrusive thoughts are mostly repetitive and involve certain story lines. When an unhelpful thought comes up with a story line, try to label and let it go without giving much attention to it. It’s just a thought and not reality. Try and open your awareness to yourself and world around. As soon as you name your thought, you step back from being caught up in it and you stop being drawn into the negativity it creates. When you are mentally labelling your thoughts as ‘anxious’ or ‘fearful’ or ‘worrisome’, make sure you do so with compassion and not with aggression or frustration. This helps you to reflect on them with a positive perspective and respond to them peacefully.
Develop present moment awareness
Another effective way to deal with your intrusive thoughts is to bring back your awareness to the present moment. Paying attention to your present moment can get you out of your excessive unhelpful thinking and can ease you out of the internal noise so created. Bringing all your attention to your senses can calm your mind and grounds you in the present moment. In this way, little to no room is left in your attention for all that unwanted and unhelpful thoughts that are intrusive in nature. Being mindful of the present moment brings you back from mind wandering when you get lost in your old habits, beliefs, and negative reaction patterns. Through mindfulness, you build your capacity to change the contents of your thoughts to ‘present’ rather than about a remembered past or anticipated future.
Question your intrusive thoughts
As human beings, we have an inherent negativity bias, with our mental chatter being skewed more towards the negative rather than positive. So despite everything, certain intrusive thoughts can continue to have grip on you. In such cases, you can test reality of your thoughts by asking some helpful questions like ‘Am I creating negative interpretations?’ ‘Is my thought helpful?’ ‘What is the evidence for and against my thinking?’ ‘What is the best part of this situation or person?’ ‘Am I filtering out the positive and dwelling on the negative?’ This way, you can focus on constructive thoughts or actions and can try and find a positive. Doing a goal-directed thinking can also help you see things in a different perspective.
We cannot consistently think only positive thoughts because you cannot control your thoughts but only your response to them. In fact, despite all the efforts, intrusive thoughts float through your mind and rise to the surface. It is absolutely normal for you to experience unhelpful, or unpleasant thoughts from time to time. Even though they make you anxious and uncomfortable, there is no quick fix method to control or quite your thoughts in any lasting way. But by practicing above mentioned strategies, you can, however, tame them and redirect your attention towards positive by not letting them control or giving into them. With a little practice and persistence, you can untangle yourself from unhelpful intrusive thought patterns and can change your focus to more meaningful.
“You don’t have to control your thoughts, you just have to stop letting them control you.”
“A strong positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success” – Dr. Joyce brothers
No matter how intelligent, attractive, or talented you may be — to the degree you doubt your worthiness you tend to sabotage your efforts in achieving your goals. Your sense of self-worth is related to your perception of yourself. Your self-perception depends on knowing who you are, what you are like, and what you are capable of. Self-perception goes beyond positive self-esteem, and also involves your shortcomings, problem areas and shapes your life by creating tendencies. Like for instance, If you feel worthy and deserving, you tend to make productive choices and if you feel unworthy and undeserving, you tend to make destructive or limiting choices. When you do your self-assessment with your perceived worth, you have self-perception problems because your emotions or misconceptions lead you to false choices and sometimes to wrong conclusions. Adjusting your self-perception can improve your circumstances by changing the choices you make and the actions you take.
Self-perception problems takes many forms, such as engaging in self discriminating behaviour or undermining your health, success, or lowering your self-esteem. The moment we recognise the degree to which our problems are self-imposed, we begin to solve these problems by taking responsibility for the choices and actions that caused it. One of the most important measure you can take is to become aware of how your self-perception or self-image has shaped your existence and how you can transcend it. We each have the ability to achieve greatness. But sometimes this requires reframing your self-messaging to recognise your potential.
“You must have a positive self perception in order to transcend anything.” – Steve Maraboli
What is self-perception?
Self-perception is the personal view, or mental picture that we have of ourselves. It describes the characteristics of self, including how we think and feel, based on our physical appearance, intelligence, talents and performance. These characteristics form an internal dictionary of our strengths and weaknesses. Based on these, we tend to assign labels to our personal self and form conclusions about our image like for instance, I am intelligent…therefore I am…, or I am a failure.. therefore I believe I cannot…It is through these conclusions, our self-perception becomes either positive or negative.
How is self-perception developed?
Self-perception is mostly a product of our experiences. Factors like religion,culture, environment, friends and peers have a major influence on our self-perception. Our experience with others and world around add to our perception. Relationships and family influence what we think and feel about ourselves. The perception of our self may be a real or distorted view of who we really are. Based on this view, we develop either positive or negative self-perception. We continually take into and evaluate ourselves based on our appearance, relationship, and performance.
We all begin our life with a complete, natural sense of worth, but as we grow, we serve as our own judge, or get heavily influenced by others’ opinions and start to validate or negate how we perceive ourselves. As a result, we constantly strive to live up to societal expectations and compare ourselves to others. When we fail to measure up, we give rise to doubt, pessimism thereby eventually discouraging ourselves and end up in self-sabotaging our own efforts and talents. If your self-perception depends on external factors, it results in negative self-worth.
On the other hand, if your self-perception is based on your personal perspective, and not on societal expectations, you will have a more positive self-perception.
Importance of self-perception
Self-perception is important because how we perceive ourselves affects how we feel and think about ourselves and how we interact with others and the world around us. A positive self-perception boosts our physical, mental, social and emotional well-being. On the other hand, having wrong self-perception leads to low self-worth and you end up focusing more on your faults, weaknesses, failure and imperfections. This results in constant self-criticism and your imperfections blown out of proportion. With a positive perception, you recognise your strengths and full potential while being realistic about your limitations.
How can you develop an accurate perception of yourself
Self-perception is not permanent and keeps changing according to our experiences. Our perceptions of ourselves will never be that perfect. However many times, we fail to perceive ourselves accurately and as a result we fail at reaching our full potential and decreases our satisfaction and ability to function in certain areas of our life. If you don’t think you can go after your dreams, passions, or you’re worried you can’t change your negative behaviour, or simply you lack confidence, the problem might not be your situation, but just your perception of yourself. You can learn to develop a more positive and accurate view of yourself by challenging the distortions of your thinking. Here is how you can develop a more positive perception of yourself.
Rely on your self-awareness
First step in fixing your perception of yourself is to identify how you see yourself. Develop an awareness of who you are and your strengths and weaknesses. Answering certain questions like what defines your true self and how you see yourself will reveal a realistic perspective and you can get to know your strengths and also gives you an opportunity to work on your weaknesses. Acceptance of your weaknesses or flaws is an important step to work on them over time. Relying on your own awareness and not being influenced by others’ opinion not only gives you a greater sense of control over yourself but also a realistic view of your abilities.
Confront your thinking distortions
Your perception of yourself is primarily based on your personal feelings, emotions, and perspectives. To get an understanding of your thinking distortion’s, notice your critical voice, unhelpful thoughts and limiting beliefs. Notice your inner dialogue. Are your thoughts mostly critical or encouraging?Are your thoughts helpful or unhelpful when things go wrong? How do your thoughts tends to distort your reality? How do you label yourself? Are your labels helpful or unhelpful in achieving your goals? Are your thoughts rational? What assumptions do you tend to make about yourself? Working through these will help you confront your unhelpful, distorted thoughts, beliefs and incorrect assumptions. If you notice that you are overly critical of yourself and your thoughts are unhelpful and negative, then it’s important to work through these areas in order to overcome your negative self-perception.
Focus on positive attitudes
You don’t need to be perfect, in fact if you can learn from your mistakes and failures, and view them as learning experience, you can shift your perception from negative to positive. If you can stop judging your mistakes so harshly, you can stop yourself from falling into self-defeating cycles and from negatively engaging in negative behaviours. By focusing on your strengths, you can review your mistakes and embrace challenges to perceive yourself as more able and competent.
Don’t Rely on external validation
Allowing others to define you will allow others to shape your attitudes, perception and opinions. If you depend on external validation, you are always comparing and trying to live up to expectations of others. You alone can change your self-perception to positive based on your own representation of yourself and not on others definition of you. This can happen by accepting who you are and taking responsibility of your thoughts and choices. This enables you to have an optimistic outlook and more confidence in yourself and in your own ability.
The desire to be perfect creates anxiety and sometimes leads to self-criticism. When you indulge in self-criticism, your inner-critic takes over thereby creating a negative perception of yourself. However constructive criticism can be helpful providing optimism and motivation. But if your self-talk is making you feel helpless and hurting your confidence, then instead of criticising yourself, choose to give yourself a honest feedback that will provide you an opportunity to improve and will help you build a positive self-image.
Follow your passions
Finally, define your personal goals and objectives. What are your strengths? What goals are you passionate about achieving? How can you live with more meaning and purpose? Following your passions and purpose will replace the negative beliefs you carry about yourself. You can add all the positive layers to form a definite and a positive image of yourself. Take credit for your accomplishments and strengthen your worthiness despite others opinion.
By perceiving yourself valuable, you can create your own definition of who you are. A positive self-perception is all about how you see yourself without external influences and embracing your true self. Overcoming negative self-perception requires conscious effort and consistency. Follow the above mentioned suggestions to develop a positive and a more accurate view of yourself. Acknowledge your strengths and live with innate self-worth.
“What we perceive about ourselves is greatly a reflection of how we will end up living our lives.” – Stephen Richards