Our beliefs are very powerful. Some are so deeply buried, we don’t even realise we have them. They can be the difference between one life and a whole other path. The thoughts we hold about ourselves will become our reality.
This is the final post in a series about the neuroscience of success. First, I talked to you about the neuroscience of talent and then about confidence. In the talent post, I explained how when we practice a thought enough, the circuit in our brain is strengthened by a substance called myelin. This substance wraps around the nerve fiber – increasing the strength and accuracy of the signal.
So what do you think happens when we think a negative thought over and over again?
Unfortunately, we practice it, we strengthen it and then it becomes a strong default circuit in our brain – a concrete belief.
If any of these negative thoughts started in our early years, we have been practicing them for a very long time.
I’m not a psychologist, in fact I studied very little psychology, I am a neuroscientist. So I am not here to talk to you about the the root of your negative beliefs – that is your therapist’s job. What I want to show you is a way to change those negative beliefs to something better. So that the reality you create for yourself is one of happiness, not disappointment.
Firstly, it takes work. Your brain will try to talk you out of it and tell you it is too hard. If you want it bad enough, it has to become a ritual like brushing your teeth.
Secondly, you will need a journal. This is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for people…nobody wants to be that kid who keeps a diary. But, just think of it as homework for success, not a book of feelings. And on that note, some of the most successful and wealthy people in the world keep a journal…
When we hold a belief, our amazing brain will look for evidence to strengthen the belief further. That means we will often develop blind spots to the experiences that oppose this belief (cough…religious extremists). I will use an example…
If I believe I am stuck in a bad situation – I will miss all the opportunities around me to free myself. I just will not see them. I will shrug them off as too hard or impossible. Then, I will continue to gather experiences that make me feel even more stuck. And each time my brain will say ah ha! I knew it! – and wrap a little more myelin around the I am stuck nerve fiber.
What we need to do is identify some of these beliefs that do not serve us well. Then, we need to find evidence for the opposite. This will feel really hard at first. Do not try to do it all at once, this is a marathon, not a sprint. You want to chip away at the negative belief with an ice pick every day, little by little.
So, if I believe I am stuck and I would prefer to believe I am free – I have to find evidence to give my brain to strengthen this new thought. I have to search for anything in my experience that helps me to believe I am free. When the belief is really hard-wired in there, you may need to find something very simple to start off with – such as… on a Saturday, I can do whatever I want and nobody can tell me otherwise. That day belongs to me. On that day I am free.
I have been in tough situations before and I found my way out. I can do it again – I am free.
You could list all the times you got yourself out of the situations that had you feeling stuck. Not only will this strengthen the new belief, it will give you confidence.
Obviously, these are small things. And you are not going to feel 100% all at once. But, what you will start to do is fracture the old belief just a little – and most importantly, you have just created a new little circuit in your brain.
The I am free circuit.
Now, all you have to do is engage in deep practice. Every day spend five minutes looking for evidence of your freedom/worth/beauty/strength.
Slowly, but surely, you will strengthen this belief. You will start to notice opportunities opening up around you like magic (they were there all along, you just couldn’t see them). Other thoughts will start to stem from this new belief such as I am in charge of my life. I am in control of my future.
And these thoughts will lead you to make far better decisions. These sorts of thoughts build resilience. And resilience is the key to success.
Now beware…this old belief is not gone forever, it is dormant. Often, it just takes a normal life blow to reactivate it again. So we need to make sure that when this happens, we make it a priority to re-strengthen the new belief further. Each ‘negative’ thing that happens to us is an opportunity. We can fall back into old patterns of thinking and lose our way. Or, we can use it to see where we have old beliefs that need our attention – where new beliefs need to be created or strengthened, Hence, why these experiences are gems given to us to help us grow and become even more powerful.
This is a process I have used many times in my life during tough times. At the very least it helps me gain some control back when it feels as though I am dangling out in space. It helps me to see I have the tools at my disposal every day to better my situation – and it costs me nothing. It helps me to remember, that in this life of mine – I am the boss.
Leather Jacket – Stolen Girlfriends Club Tee- Trelise Cooper Jeans – Sass & Bide
Bag – Deadly Ponies
Currently listening to: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – Growing Up (Sloan’s Song) ft Ed Sheeran
Much love xx