I think we can all agree that it can be incredibly challenging to develop new and improved habits or stick to positive ones. But when it comes to habits (and life as a whole), what we fail to realize is that the biggest challenge is often sitting right between our own two ears.
The mind is powerful. It’s why Henry Ford once said “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.”
Your reality is a representation of the thoughts you allow to pass through your mind. These thoughts can either stop you short of achieving anything worth achieving in life or they can help you to live the life of your dreams.
As someone who has struggled with their thoughts in the past, I will be the first to admit that it’s not always easy to change negative thoughts into more positive ones. But when I forced myself to take a step back and reexamine my life, I realized that I simply had no other option. Negative thoughts were not bringing any value to my life.
If you are interested in learning how your beliefs can sabotage your behavior and how to change these beliefs so you can achieve far more success in your life, then this post is for you.
Let’s jump into it.
The Power of Your Beliefs
First of all, if you haven’t read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, I strongly recommend doing so.
Carol Dweck is a researcher at Stanford University who is widely known for her research on “the fixed mindset vs. the growth mindset.”
When describing the main differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset, here’s how Dweck compares the two and how they impact your individual performance.
“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”
—Carol Dweck, Stanford University
The benefits of a growth mindset might seem obvious, but it’s a lot easier said than done. Many of us struggle to maintain a growth mindset, especially in times of uncertainty. A growth mindset causes us to push out of our comfort zone, and when we are experiencing challenging times, it’s our comfort zone that provides us with a sense of safety and security.
This can be incredibly dangerous to one’s success because a fixed mindset can, and often does prevent one from developing their skills and stunting their growth, which could sabotage their health and happiness for years down the road. It’s crazy to think that one thought today could impact our lives for many years, but it’s the truth.
For example, if you say, “I’m not good at sports” then that belief acts as an easy excuse to stop playing sports altogether. If you develop this mindset, you could soon find yourself both physically and mentally unhealthy.
While the fixed mindset may prevent you from failing in the short–run, it is definitely going to stop you from succeeding in the long–run. It’s going to hinder your ability to learn, grow, and develop new skills.
On the opposite side, you have someone with a growth mindset who would be willing to fail upfront and continue to try. This doesn’t make failure any easier in the time of failure, but instead of allowing their failures to stop them dead in their tracks, they choose to see failure and setbacks as a way to improve on their weaknesses while developing their skillset.
As a result, people who have a growth mindset are more likely to maximize their potential and achieve their goals. They tend to learn from their mistakes, to overcome challenges rather than avoiding them, and to stop themselves from making the same mistakes twice.
Do Your Beliefs Hold You Back?
Do you find yourself believing things like…
- “It’s hard for me to lose weight.”
- “I’m not good with numbers.”
- “I’m not a natural athlete.”
- “I’m not worthy of falling in love.”
- “I’m not good at anything I do.”
If so, you’re going to have a difficult road ahead of you if you continue to believe these things.
Having a fixed mindset will cause you to miss out on many experiences just avoid the possibility of failure. As a result, you don’t learn as much and it’s hard to get better.
As someone who has missed out on many life experiences because they didn’t want to be seen as a failure, I will be the first to tell you that it simply isn’t worth it.
What can you do about this? How can you change your own beliefs about yourself, develop a growth mindset, and actually achieve your goals?
How To Change Tour Actions and Change Your Beliefs
The first thing that helped me was positive thinking. It sounds so simple, and really, that’s because it is. Instead of saying “I’m not good at this” change that thought to “I’m going to do my best and try.”
Something as simple as this can help ease the stress of trying new things in life. Plus, what do you have to lose? Negative thinking clearly isn’t helping, so why not give positive thinking a try.
When you think a negative thought, that thought is playing out in your mind as though it’s your reality. If you try it anyway and it turns out to be true, you will live that reality twice.
But when you think positive thoughts, the most you will ever experience a negative reality will be once. Even then, if you fail, you will still be more optimistic and will look for ways to improve moving forward.
It’s completely your choice how you choose to see your failures.
The second thing that has helped me to believe in myself more is something that may be difficult for some, but that’s to think about death. I don’t think about dying in a way where I want to die, but rather I envision myself on my deathbed and wonder what I will then think of the life I am living today.
Will I regret anything? Will I wish I would have done more with the time I had on this earth? Will I be happy with the life I lived, or will I look back with pain and heartache knowing I didn’t live the life I should have?
It’s scary to look at or think about death, but it can also provide you with a sense of encouragement and motivation to help you get your life back on track.
Does this mean that I am perfect and am living life to my fullest potential today? Nope. But I am in such a much better spot today than I was two years ago, a year ago, even a month ago. It’s because while I may not be perfect, I am doing my best to learn and grow into the person I want to become.
Before You Go
In case I haven’t made it clear enough already: skill is something you learn and continue to develop as you go through life, not merely something you’re born with.
You can become whatever you want to become, whether that’s becoming more intelligent, more athletic, more successful, or anything for that matter.
Instead of worrying about being perfect today, commit to the process of change and focus on becoming the best you can be.
It’s not about instant gratification or the immediate results. It’s about building on the individual you were yesterday to become the person you wish to be.