“Our beliefs about what we are and what we can be precisely determine what we can be” ― Anthony Robbins
It defines us. It is us. But where does it come from? And why is it that no matter what we SAY we want to do, we usually end up being about the same person we’ve always been? I’m no psychologist, but I do play one in my head. So, let’s look at how our belief system affects what we accomplish and makes us who we are. Let’s also focus on three ways to tweak your belief system so you can finally achieve the goals you’ve set for yourself.
1) Stop Thinking Small And Start Thinking Big
So many people think small. It’s not because we are consciously choosing to think small. It’s because that is what we believe we are capable of. When I was younger, I thought small. And that was ok for a time, but after years of playing little league, it was time for me to move up to the bigs, or at least AA. I remember when I was 24 years old. I owned two cell phone stores. I made about $1,000 a month profit, which is terrible, but at that time, it felt like a lot.
I was “successful” to an extent because I was young(ish) and was in control of my destiny. From the outside, many people were impressed by my accomplishment. But on the inside, deep down, I knew I was falling short of what I could do. Add to that the fact that I wasn’t happy doing it, and I had the impetus to do something about it. I’ll never forget the day I sat down with Julie, a family friend, about selling my cell phone business.
I wanted to move on to do this whole “internet” thing. It was 2006. I told her I had a lot of fear about selling this guaranteed income for the prospect of something that was just an idea. And what she said that day has stuck with me ever since. She said, “If you try something new and fail, the worst that will happen is you’ll go get a job. If you don’t try, the best that will happen is you’ll go get a job.” And there it was. The day my belief system changed forever.
I think a lot of us let fear hold us back. Fear leads to small thinking. If I play it safe, we say, I can’t fail or lose. That protects our ego and keeps us congruent with our current situation. So, the advice I have for you is to reframe the way you think. I know it’s hard to do that. And for me, it took years to get to that point. But, you’ve got to try. Look at where you are now and where you want to be. The gap between those two places is your belief in yourself.
2) Temporary Setbacks Are Normal
Ok, let’s say you just dove in head first and started thinking big. You changed your belief system to accept the fact that you are infinitely capable of doing some pretty amazing things. And you rush out and give it all you got. And then, you fall flat on your face. Uh-oh. That hurts. Is it time to give up? Were you wrong?
The answer here is that you were wrong if you choose to be wrong. That’s right. Life is a “choose your own adventure” book, and you are the one making all the choices. I’ve seen so many people (myself included) that turn a temporary setback into a belief of failure or self-doubt. Well, let me tell you from personal experience that everyone fails. The Beatles were turned down for a recording contract. Just about every famous author out there had their best selling books rejected by publishers. Blockbuster declined to buy Netflix because the CEO thought the idea was stupid.
I could go on and on, but you get the point. Success is not a straight line. It’s full of zig-zags, drops, rises, and loops. There may even be a few pits thrown in just for fun. And guess what? That’s ok. The key here is that you are in control. You only lose control when you give it away. So, when a setback happens (and believe me, it will), rejoice because that means you are one step closer to your goal. That’s awesome! See what I did there? You can choose to believe what you want to believe. Don’t let a setback stop you. In reality, a setback is nothing more than a stepping stone towards your goal.
3) Let Go Of Old Beliefs That Don’t Work Anymore
If your clock breaks, how long do you keep it? Thankfully, for me, my wife would have it out of the house the day it stopped working with a new one already on its way from Amazon. Now, why did we get rid of the clock? Is it because we don’t like it? Is it because we changed? Not really. We got rid of it because it doesn’t work anymore.
That’s how we have to look at our beliefs. This next part may be a little weird for you but hang with me for a moment. I know our belief systems are powerful, so don’t judge me too harshly for saying this:
Your belief is really nothing more than a glorified opinon.
Ouch. I know. Notice I’m not saying your belief is wrong. I’m just saying that we humans tend to take a belief we have and turn in into a fact. For example, for many years, I carried around the belief that I was bad at math. I would tell people, “Oh don’t ask me, I’m terrible at math.” Or I’d say, “I was ok at math till they started throwing numbers in.” Har har. In reality, I was forming an opinion about myself and doing my best to convince myself it was true.
These days, I’m still not a math wizard, but I LOVE working on spreadsheets, figuring out ad spend, conversion rates, and all sorts of stuff. I had to unlearn everything I taught myself about my feelings about math. So, in reality, I was never good or bad at math. I was whatever I chose to be. My belief about my math abilities was not a fact; it was an opinion. And it was my opinion.
But – where did my opinion come from? Now we’re getting to the meat of it. Tony Robbins likes to explain our belief system as a table. Your average table has four legs and a table top. If you think of your belief as the table top, the first thing you’ll see is that without legs your table won’t stand. So, what are the legs that give your beliefs legs? Simple. Your experience.
You see, we go through life telling a story. Our story. That time we were funny. That time we weren’t funny. That time the girl said yes to a date. That time the girl said no to a date. We take all these experiences and package them into a story. At some point, we gather enough experiences that we feel comfortable creating a belief. Let’s say you had a particularly bad run as a young person with dating. I can speak from experience here. I didn’t go on my first date till I was 28 years old. Why? Because my belief system.
In high school, I gave flowers to one girl on Valentines Day. She gave me a hug and said, “…thanks, but I think of you as a friend.” When I was a little older, something similar happened. On top of all that, due to my weight issues, I never felt comfortable in my own skin. It was the perfect storm for me to create the belief that girls wouldn’t like me and I was just going to be alone till I lost weight.
To sum up this point – I took various experiences and turned them into the legs of my belief that girls wouldn’t date me. But here’s the part that I missed. Multiple girls asked me out, invited me to do things, etc., but I never saw it as a romantic interest. Why? Because my beliefs were set.
I accepted the experiences that strengthened my argument and rejected the ones that weakened it. I wrote the story I wanted.
That last sentence also explains politics in a nutshell, but I digress.
We’ve covered a lot of abstract stuff here. But I want to make one more point that I think will help you as you take the leap from where you are now to where you want to be. The proof that you believe in yourself is that you take action. If you find yourself procrastinating on something big you should be doing, most likely you don’t believe in yourself. There can be other reasons, of course, but many times it just comes down to believing you can do it.
So, I implore you – take massive action. Begin to look at your beliefs as your opinions based on your experience. Want different beliefs? Focus on other experiences (or create some new ones!). Each of us could write down five reasons why we’re awesome and five reasons why we’re not. We then could focus on either one of those views. You see, its’ easy to create a belief. What takes work is choosing the right belief for us, one that works to help us accomplish our goals and live an epic life.
I’ll close this post out with the wise words of Henry Ford.
Whether you think you can or can’t, either way you are right. ~Henry Ford