Life is a belief game. Henry Ford famously once said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you are right.”
Your beliefs set your boundaries and parameters. Believe your possibilities are limitless and that you can do anything you want, and you’ll have the ideas needed, and meet the people necessary, for this to come true. Believe you’re average and that life is full of limitation, and you’ll overlook the very real opportunities that exist to become great.
Dr David Eagleman explains how this phenomenon works in his fascinating documentary, The Brain. The take home message is that nobody sees the world as it truly is. In fact, we mainly see projections of our own beliefs.
This occurs because of the way our brains work. We take in information from our eyes and this then travels to our Thalamus. From the Thalamus, the information then travels to our Visual Cortex, where all our memories and beliefs are stored. After that, it moves back to our Thalamus and on to our Cerebral Cortex, where the information is used and understood.
This may seem like a fairly routine passage of information through the brain’s networks, but something incredible happens when it travels back from the Visual Cortex to the Thalamus. 80% more information is added to the original input received from our eyes.
What does this mean?
Essentially, that you add your own meaning to the information you receive. Therefore, life is a fiction and you are the author. You will notice the things that are already important to you and see evidence of the things you already believe. In short, you are always confirming your own biases.
If there is no universal reality, and all you experience is your own reality, mapped out according to your beliefs, then those had better be good ones. You could, unwittingly, be chaining yourself to a life far smaller, unhealthier, poorer and lonelier than it needs to be. Change your beliefs, and you change your life.
Of course, many of your beliefs were not consciously created. They might have been handed down to you by your parents or conditioned into you by the school, and work, system. The great news is that you no longer have to accept them. Once you realise that they are not the truth but, instead, just one way of looking at the world, you are free to create new beliefs that serve you better.
What should these be?
The following, are my four suggestions. They have served me in my most difficult times. When I’ve felt like my world’s been caving in, and that I’m doomed to play out the same lonely script I adopted in my adolescence, I remind myself that,
Let’s break them down now.
Repeat this belief before you make an important phone call, attend an interview, give a speech or presentation, before and during a sporting contest and while you are creating your product. Back yourself. Believe you can achieve whatever it is you desire.
Of course, repeating this belief is no guarantee that things will immediately change and you’ll be successful in all your endeavours. The power of belief doesn’t work that way. However, what it does do, is open your subconscious to the idea that you can be successful and encourage it to start looking for answers to make this happen.
Eventually, or perhaps sooner than you expect, these answers will come. Telling yourself that you can do something, will enable you to learn. It will also help you relax enough so that you can give the best performance with the resources you currently possess.
Your mind has a powerful grip over your body. By reminding yourself that you ‘can do this,’ you’re activating all of the neurological and physiological networks to achieve this aim. Whether you achieve your goal now, or later, just know that this is the best belief to have when it comes to fulfilling your potential.
Is this statement true? When you look at the job section online, or in the papers, nothing is available. Furthermore, there appears to be no way to make money from doing the work you enjoy.
Perhaps this lack of opportunity extends to your love life as well. You never randomly meet any good-looking potential partners and you only encounter flakes while dating online. How could you possibly believe that the world is full of opportunity?
Because doing so is going to help. Remember, notions of ‘the truth’, or past experiences, are irrelevant when it comes to what might be possible for your future. The world you’ve seen up until this point is, pretty much, a reflection of your beliefs. Therefore, you might have been, unknowingly, trapping yourself. What would happen if you were to change your mind-set and start believing there are opportunities everywhere?
You’d start to see them. Your brain would change its filters and, the information you’d take in, would include opportunities for your advancement.
Perhaps you’d notice a job online where, previously, you’d browsed straight past it. Or, perhaps, a meeting with someone you’d never considered an ally, might lead to the discovery that you share similar interests and then result in a fruitful business partnership.
Whatever you want to do, the opportunities are out there. When I first started selling my book on Amazon, I would barely make 1 sale a week and I couldn’t see how this would ever increase. However, in the space of the last 18 months, I’ve;
There’s a scene in the Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies, where James Bond and his Chinese spy partner, are being chased through the streets of Saigon. First, 4 by 4’s are chasing them, then other motorbikes and, finally, they are hunted down by a helicopter. As it appears all is lost, and the helicopter traps Bond and his partner against some buildings and an iron gate, his partner says to him, “trapped!”
Bond’s reply is quick. “Never,” he says, and as he looks around, he finds a hook attached to a close line. This, he uses to perform a daring stunt, where he skids his motorbike under the main propeller of the helicopter (the copter is almost vertical with the blade pointing down) and attaches it to the rear propeller, causing it to get entangled and crash. Had Bond accepted his fate, he’d never have had the ingenuity to look for this solution.
Unfortunately, many people can’t see beyond what appears to be the finality of their situations. When the doctor tells them it’s terminal, they accept it, when the authority in their industry implies they’ll never make it, they give up and when they face rejection after rejection when trying to get a date, they believe they’re unlovable.
None of this is true. Have you ever stopped to considered that human history is one of solving problems?
The cold, and elements, used to kill us so we sheltered in caves, discovered fire, built homes and then installed central heating. Viruses like Polio used to cripple us and many died during surgery, so we discovered vaccines, improved our hygiene and refined our surgical procedures.
There is no problem we can’t solve and you are part of this shared genius. Once you start to believe there is always a solution, no matter how desperate the situation may appear, you’ll tap into the universal mind and discover the multiple options available to assist you in escaping from your predicament.
You don’t have to be perfect or get it right first time. Furthermore, you don’t always have to beat other people or meet their standards. All you have to do is improve. Over a long enough time scale, this will lead to success.
To do this, though, you must adopt a growth mind-set. You must understand that you are not fixed to your so-called innate talents (or lack of). With every day, you can learn something new or experiment with a different strategy.
How will an extra half an hour of work each day impact your results? What will happen if you make adjustments to your technique and alter your swing? There is no area of your life that can’t be improved and there are numerous sources to learn from that will enable you to do so.
What about when you get older? Is it still possible to be learning and getting stronger?
Absolutely. While some physical decline is inevitable (although the extent is up for negotiation), strength can be defined in many ways. You can strengthen your resolve, become wiser and more loving. There are always ways to improve so long as you reject society’s understanding that ability is fixed and dependent on age.