“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.
“We need to focus on the present moment, the only one we can really live in, to be truly effective.”
Ability to manage our attention is an important determinant of our success. But we are continuously bombarded by external events in our daily life and experience various distractions and information overload all the time. Most of us never go beyond a narrow, personalised sense of self that is conditioned by past and an anticipated future which is far from present. As a result, our ability to pay attention at will comes under control by external factors and by our past conditioning. We constantly attach thoughts and feelings to external factors, events from past and imaginary future. Because of this, the world around and people in particular come to be perceived as threatening. We begin to judge and the need to compete and dominate arises. Our perceptions and interpretations change and we take actions based on anger, despair, fear and frustration. The actions thus taken generate an automated cycle of negative behaviour where we tend to react to everything automatically without any present moment awareness and attention.
Performing right actions comes down to making right choices and this requires the ability to pay attention to the present moment. Giving full attention to whatever the moment present is possible only through complete acceptance, because you cannot give your full attention to something at the same time resist it.
Importance of acceptance
Accepting yourself unconditionally fosters your efforts to attain your highest potential and encourages you to live up to the highest in you. The non-evaluative observation of ‘what is’ without distortion through mindful acceptance and attention allows you to break the automatic response to the external events by disrupting the unconscious progression of thoughts and emotions. You can bring peace by connecting to your true self. This helps in promoting physical and emotional well-being by removing stress and inner conflict.
Acceptance means positive action
To some people, acceptance may have negative connotations, implying defeat, giving up, lethargy and so on. They might think by always accepting the way things are, they are not going to make any efforts to improve them. True acceptance does not mean to passively put up with whatever situation you find yourself in and to do nothing about it. Nor does it mean to cease initiating positive action. Accepting the present moment unconditionally is to let go inner resistance to ‘what is’. Inner resistance is to say ‘no’ to ‘what is’ through mental judgment and emotional negativity. Acceptance of what is does not mean that you cannot take action and change the situation. You don’t need to accept undesirable life situation, but just narrow your attention to the present moment without mentally labelling it in any way. Action with no resistance, no judgment, and no emotional negativity results in positive action and is far more effective than negative action, which arises out of anger, despair or frustration.
If you find your life situation unsatisfactory or even intolerable, it is only through acceptance that you can break the unconscious resistance pattern that perpetuates the situation. Acceptance is the starting point. Unless there is complete acceptance, we will never develop the willingness to change ourselves. This is true for every experience, addiction and weakness. Accepting your true self and of ‘what is’, you can begin to take action, initiate change or achieve goals.
Practice accepting ‘what is’
Focusing on the present moment through conscious acceptance allows you to improve your attention by breaking the automatic feeling-thought-action cycle. Acceptance allows you to take wiser decisions and enables you to cultivate a more balanced relationships. Here is how you can practice acceptance.
• Do not be concerned with the fruit of your action. Give attention to the ‘doing’ than the result that you want to achieve and in time you will be freed from what now seems impossible.
• Accumulation of past in your psyche reinforces false sense of ‘self’ by denying the present moment. You don’t need the past moment, refer to it only when it is relevant to present.
• Don’t be a ‘habitual waiter’, waiting to achieve your goals — with every kind of waiting, you reduce the present moment to a means to an end leading to non fulfilment and dissatisfaction. Strive to achieve your goals but don’t use them to substitute for the feeling of being, whole and complete.
• Watch your thoughts as well as your reactions in various situations. Notice how often your attention is in the past or future. Make it your practice to withdraw attention from past and future when they are not needed.
• Practice meditation to rediscover your unconditional self. Notice your breathing patterns and observe your thoughts and emotions. Accepting your situation through being mindful helps you gain focus and clarity about what triggers certain feelings and emotions.
• Practice focusing your attention in the present moment while eating, drinking, working and while communicating. This reduces stress and anxiety, as well as increases your emotional intelligence. Giving your complete attention to what you do results in empowered action.
• Avoid labelling every perception and experience. When you mentally name or label a situation in some way as undesirable or bad, you tend to personalise the resentment which in turn brings a reactive “me.” Break this habit by practicing “not naming.” Don’t name an experience as “bad” and instead bring an inner “yes” to it.
• When you are unhappy, stay totally with what is. Do not unconsciously designate your deficient sense of self through being ‘right’ and making something ‘wrong’. This leads to reactivity and creates conflict between your external circumstances at that moment. Instead of complaining about the circumstances, accept. This will allow you to make peace and you will be able to turn to present.
• Patiently work with your difficulties. Acceptance builds trust into the current situation and you can focus on underlying opportunities.
Notice how total are you in what you do or in your daily activities.
Watch how it feels like when you don’t want to be where you are — the traffic, work place, the people you are with, dealing with the countless things that make up your daily life — accept the ‘isness’ of the moments in your life. Whatever your life situation is,
practice completely accepting it as it is — where you are, who you are with, or what you are doing. This improves your full attention to the moment and your doing becomes more effective, fulfilling and joyful.
“Pause and remember— When you fight reality, you will lose every time. Once you accept the situation for what it truly is, not what you want it to be, you are then free to move forward.” — Jenni Young
Mindsets are an important part of your personality and behaviour. Your ‘personality mindset’ comes into play in situations that involve your personal qualities — how dependable, cooperative, caring or socially skilled you are. People always think, act and fare differently from each other. These differences are mainly due to people’s backgrounds, experiences, training or ways of learning. The view thus adopted for yourself has a profound affect on the way you lead your life. This view becomes your mindset and can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.
The two mindsets
Believing that your qualities are fixed and thinking that you have certain kind of intelligence, certain personality and a moral character makes you a person of fixed mindset. For people with fixed mindset, human qualities are like they are carved in stone and intelligence or personality is something that is fixed or is a deep-seated trait.
Believing that your intelligence or personality is something you can develop and that human qualities are not fixed and you can always make an effort to improve yourself makes you a person of growth mindset. People with growth mindset do not waste time proving how great they are, but instead believe that the basic qualities can be cultivated through learning and they constantly better themselves with continuous effort.
Fixed mindset vs growth mindset
Most of us are trained in fixed mindset from an early age creating a mindset in which our one consuming goal is to look smart and prove ourselves in classrooms, careers, and in our relationships.
People with fixed mindset have a constant urge to prove themselves to others and they feel rejected with minor disappointments and setbacks. Do not confuse yourself fixed mindset with low self esteem. They are just as worthy and optimistic when they aren’t coping with failure. They strongly believe “If at first you don’t succeed, you probably don’t have the ability.” Or “ If Rome wasn’t built in a day, may be it wasn’t meant to be.”
Fixed mindset does not let you believe in putting effort or getting help, and makes you fear the challenges with its focus on permanent traits. People with this mindset tend to misestimate their performance and their ability. This turns them into non-learners and lose interest when things get too challenging. They have higher levels of depression and ruminate over minor problems and setbacks.
On the contrary, growth mindset lets you understand the power of persistence and the importance of taking risks. It lets you recognise the value of challenges and overcoming obstacles. People with growth mindset think they can work much harder and always resolve to do better. They strongly believe in “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Or “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
It is interesting to know that those with the growth mindset can identify their own strengths and weaknesses. This leads to the love of challenge, belief in effort, and resilience in the face of setbacks. With their focus on development, they take action to confront their problems and become more determined to take up the challenges.
By being aware of both mindsets, you can start thinking in new ways. All of us have elements of both — a mixture of fixed and growth mindsets. People can also have different mindsets in different areas.
Your personality or intelligence is something you can develop. You can always make an effort to shift your mindset in order to take better action. Mindset is not a fixed quantity and can be changed or increased with practice, training, and above all you can improve your attention, memory, and your judgment. A simple shift in your mindset can transform you into the person you want to be and can accomplish the things you value.A mindset shift lets you-
love what you are doing.
Believing talents can be developed allows you to fulfil your potential. Growth mindset allows people to love what they are doing. Many successful people didn’t even plan to go to the top. They arrived there as a by-product of their enthusiasm and love for what they did. In the fixed mindset, you tend to base everything on outcome. It makes you think if you fail or if you are not the best—it is all been wasted. By changing your mindset, you begin to value and love what you are doing regardless of outcome.
Fixed mindset undermines the value of effort. It makes you think effort is for those who don’t have the ability or “Things come easily to people who are true geniuses” or “If you have to work at something, you must not be good at it.” We begin to prefer effortless success and become intolerant of mistakes, criticism or setbacks as we constantly crave for validation by others.
Whereas by changing you perspective to growth mindset, you begin to admire the effort, for no matter what your ability is. You can catch yourself when you are in the throes of the fixed mindset — like instead of getting discouraged when something requires lot of effort, challenge yourself and continue your effort. Know that many successful people did not have natural ability, but developed exceptional skills through their effort.
Growth mindset doesn’t let failure define you. Failure for growth mindset is something to be faced, dealt with, and learned from. It makes you concerned with improving as you are open to the accurate information about your current abilities. People with fixed mindset instead of trying to learn from and repair their failures, they simply try to repair their self-esteem by assigning blame or making excuses. Growth mindset thinkers correct their deficiencies and learn from their mistakes in an effort to better themselves.
Here is how you can change your mindset:
• A fixed mindset can undo your learning habit. When we try to learn something new, may be a sport, dance or a new skill, many times it gets hard and we opt out either because you felt bored or tired. Next time this happens don’t let the fixed mindset take over. Do not assume you are always bad at it. Well, may be you are, but then may be you aren’t. Grow your mind set by putting in the effort in learning.
• It feels nice to surround yourself with people who make you feel faultless. It is always tempting to create a world in which we feel perfect. But you will never be able to grow. Try and seek constructive criticism.
• If you think something from your past, like being rejected or a test score or a callous action, measured you wrong, focus on that thing and feel all the emotions that go with it. Get into the growth mindset perspective. Understand your role in your growth and know that it doesn’t define your personality or intelligence.
• Next time you feel depressed or low, grow your perspective by thinking about learning, challenging and by confronting obstacles. Think about your effort as a positive and more constructive force.
• When people outdo you, instead of assuming that they were smarter or more talented, consider that they just used better strategies, taught themselves more, practiced harder and worked their way through obstacles. You can do that too if you grow your mindset.
Finally, most of us become the targets of negative stereotyping. Even when the negative label comes along, you can remain incharge by developing your growth mindset.
Fixed mindset stands in the way of development and change. The growth mindset is the starting point for change, but you need to decide for yourself where you need to put it n your efforts and where they would be most valuable.