We can have all the strategies and blueprints in the world to improve our lives, but if we don’t truly believe we can do it, or that we deserve it, we will forever remain stuck.
But how do we learn to believe?
Something I’m discovering more and more about life is that our beliefs are at the heart of everything. Like most people, I crave to live a life full of happiness, healthiness, joy and success with as little stress and overwhelm cropping up as possible.
But, also like many people, I always struggled to believe in myself, and to believe in what was truly possible for me. I’d go through stages of feeling good and getting myself into a conscious mindset of positive thinking, before being pulled crashing back down to earth when the fingers of my subconscious wrapped themselves around me again.
And there I would sit, crashing up and down on this belief roller coaster without getting anywhere. Stuck. Trapped. Lost in the cycle of self-sabotage.
What are beliefs?
As I delved further into this realm, I felt like I was constantly being told I just needed to “believe everything was possible” without ever being given the how-to part.
So my first step towards getting a hold on all this was to start understanding more about beliefs and where they come from. This led me to the realization that we can see everything in our world within the context of three categories: truth, opinion and belief.
Truth is absolute and unarguable. It’s knowing the sun will rise tomorrow and the feel of the wind on our face.
Then there’s opinion, which we know is just that – an opinion. It’s part of our human ability to make judgements and then form opinions about everything we see on whether something or someone is right, wrong, good, bad, etc.
Beliefs, on the other hand, are formed when we take opinions and treat them as truths. To us, they are real and unarguable and we struggle to see past them.
To me, simply becoming aware of this was powerful. Just being open to the possibility that everything we “believe” to be a truth may actually be an opinion leaves the door open for transformation. Because, by definition, opinions are open to debate and can be changed.
Breaking the cycle
Despite now understanding more about beliefs and where they come from, I was still left with the nagging question of how to shift this on a deeper level relative to my own self-image and esteem.
On a conscious level, I was now becoming aware of the possibility that what I believed about myself wasn’t necessarily true. I could therefore alter how I see the world and myself in a way that served me and my life goals in a better way.
But I still remained stuck. To me, seeing was believing. I considered myself to be a ‘logical person,’ and so if I was to believe something different, if I was to really start believing in myself and my power to change things, then I would need to see evidence first. But I didn’t see any change in my situation, so I couldn’t shift internally. I was stuck in a cycle of my situation dictating my internal state.
If things were to truly change, I would need to break the cycle and shift my internal state first. Because shifting our internal state is the only way to consistently take on different actions and behaviors, which, in turn, changes our reality and current situation.
In other words, I needed to learn how to believe before seeing.
Shifting our inner state
So to believe in yourself, you need to first shift your inner state, as this will create huge ripple effects in the way we see our reality, from the inside out. I’ve found the best way of doing this is through a simple three-step process involving awareness, challenging and aligning.
This is monumentally powerful. It involves becoming absolutely clear about what is going on inside your mind currently. Examining your present state of mind is often somewhat “curative” in its own right.
All too often, we label our thoughts as negative, bad or wrong and attempt to ignore and suppress them in the hope we can just plough on through. But taking some time to actually listen to what’s going on in there can create epic levels of self-awareness, and help you uncover what is ‘steering the ship’ on a subconscious level.
When I did this for myself, I simply went off to a quiet place with a notepad and tuned into my own thoughts.
So I would invite you to do just that, to ask yourself questions about what you believe about yourself and life, and to record what comes up.
The next stage is to challenge these ‘negative’ thoughts we’ve just brought into our awareness.
I couldn’t believe the kind of self-talk going on inside my head when I first did this. How can you learn to believe in yourself when you’re constantly talking yourself down?
I found that the process of identifying each individual thought or belief, figuring out where it came from, and then asking ‘is this true?’ was incredibly transformative in and of itself. Suddenly, the situation gets turned on its head and, rather than just allowing the negativity to fester inside us, we can look it square in the eye and challenge its credibility.
After the first two steps, I had effectively created a “blank slate” of sorts, and was now in the position of being able to align myself with an inner state that served me better.
So step three is to quite simply consider just that. What belief, thought or way of being would better serve my desired outcome? How can you get to an inner state where you can believe in yourself?
Of course, like many things in life, this isn’t a quick fix. Each of us spend our entire lives forming our unique belief systems, so altering that on a deep level is going to take work and repetition. But working to continually create awareness, challenge and realign elements of our internal dialogue enables us to change our state in the long term.
If we change our state, we change our behaviors. And if we change our behaviors then we change our reality.