Your self-beliefs play a vital role in your happiness and quality of life. If you don’t like what you currently believe about yourself, only you can change it (and yes, you can do that).
How do you define yourself? A mom? Wife? Dental assistant, yogi, and amateur ping pong player?
You might define yourself by what you’ve done so far life – marathon runner, dog rescuer, ice cream eater… the list goes on.
But those are just labels and gold stars.
What if you defined yourself by what you want to become? Would that also be true?
You could argue that it’s not because you haven’t become those things yet. At this point, they’re only aspirations – not reality.
But that would mean you’re only the sum total of what you’ve done in the past and that’s kinda lame.
You Are Who Exactly You Believe Yourself To Be
I think the best way to understand who you are is to look at what you believe yourself to be. If you think you’re smart, you probably are. If you think you’re kind, funny or really good in the sack, there’s probably a lot of truth to that, too. Why? Because who we believe ourselves to be, informs how we behave. We might not be spot on in the eyes of other people, but that’s not really the point, because we’re not who others think we are, right?
Here’s a great example… I have a friend who can’t seem to lose weight. She claims it’s just the way she’s built and conventional weight loss tactics don’t work for her. While I have no idea if that’s scientifically accurate, I can assure you it’s true for her and therefore she doesn’t lose weight.
I think we all get caught up in limiting beliefs about ourselves because we don’t give ourselves the awareness and opportunity to think otherwise. Over time, these beliefs shape our choices which in turn, shape our lives. This isn’t woo-woo talk, we have plenty of scientific evidence to prove it’s true.
How to Change your self-beliefs
If you’re not happy with the answers that popped into your head when I asked you who you are, then maybe it’s time to change them. If you don’t feel you have enough evidence to believe what you want to believe about yourself, then there are a few things you can do to intentionally change them:
- Study the behaviors of people who you want to emulate. Watch their behaviors and the language they use to describe themselves as this will tell you a lot about their self-beliefs. If something they’re doing resonates with you, try practicing in your own life. Adopt their language or ask yourself what they would do in certain situations. “Acting as if” has a powerful impact on how we see ourselves. The more you can manipulate your own behaviors consciously, the more you’ll rewire unconscious beliefs.
- Challenge negative or limiting beliefs about yourself. Are they really true or are you making assumptions? Byron Katie would ask you to think about who you would be without that belief. Honestly, when I use that line of questioning, it’s like lifting a 400-pound elephant off my chest.
- Prove yourself wrong. If you have a limiting belief about yourself, look for evidence that the opposite is also true. So if you believe you’ll never advance in your career, consider how you’ve gotten to where you are so far. You’ve advanced in some ways, perhaps not as fast as you’d like, but there’s always evidence that the opposite of your negative belief is true.
- Visualize yourself being different. The mind’s ability to improve results through visualization has been well documented in science, from baseball players to bodybuilders.
- Future self journaling. Within 30 days you can change your cognitive beliefs by just writing down a new narrative. It’s a powerful tool that costs nothing but 10 minutes of your time.
Why We Need to Nurture Better Self Beliefs
Our minds are programmed to seek out and focus on negative beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. It’s called a negativity bias and it’s our brain’s pre-historic way of keeping us safe. It kept humans from being eaten by predators for many years, but now it’s a thought process that mostly holds us back from achieving success. That’s why it’s so important to take time to reflect on what you believe about yourself and whether or not it’s helping or hurting your progress.
If you struggle with your self-beliefs, try some of the techniques I mentioned above. I strongly recommend that you use the Byron Katie worksheet as it can really help you work through negative beliefs that aren’t serving you. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at your financial health. If you’re struggling to earn more or save more, it’s worth a little self-inquiry to see if there are some unexamined beliefs you’re holding on to.