The Domino Effect
Imagine yourself being successful, what obstacles will you have had to overcome? What a powerful question and one that really gets to the core of how our beliefs influence our thoughts and our actions. It's also interesting to consider what is possible when there isn’t a belief holding us back.
For many of us, we don’t question or challenge our beliefs. It’s likely that you don’t even see them as beliefs but more the lens through which you see the world. The truth is that beliefs are assumptions. They are the assumptions that we have about ourselves and about the world around us. They are not facts.
We have two types of beliefs.
First up we have beliefs that are empowering, positive and that resource us. Things like “I am a good friend, I take responsibility for my actions, I accept that I am not perfect”. Think for a minute about what positive beliefs you have about yourself and your life, and how these beliefs make you feel.
We then have another set of beliefs that are more limiting and disempowering. These are less helpful ones that can surface as our inner critic, for example, “I am not smart enough to do that job, I could never start my own business or I am stupid and silly”
We experience our beliefs as if they are truth, reality and the way things just are. We often don’t create any distance between them and our identity. It just is what it is.
I like to think of beliefs as a chain reaction, or the first domino in a line.
Beliefs are the starting block that then informs and shapes our thoughts. If you believe (like it’s a truth) that you are not as good as other people, maybe in your team, at work or in your industry, then the chances of you thinking about putting your name forward, trying something new or even expressing what you think is very unlikely.
The belief shapes the thought, and the thought dictates the action, and the action (or non-action) will shape the progress and change that you make.
“Don’t believe everything you think” Byron Katie
I see this all the time when working with clients and organisations and have experienced it myself, we all have, it’s a human trait.
When I was at school I was never sporty, so much so that the teachers would actively encourage me to stand on the sidelines, take the score or hand out the kit as opposed to the one picking the team.
I grew up with a belief that I was not an active person. As I became an adult, and all through my 20’s I never even considered doing anything on the exercise front. I just knew that I was not that person and therefore wouldn’t be able to succeed, would most likely look stupid and end up hurting myself in the process.
After I had my first child, I was looking for a way to get a bit of me-time out of the house. I started to imagine what my life would be like if I could do exercise, and that felt good and exciting. So I began couch to 5K. The beauty of this app is that in the beginning, all you need to believe is that you can run for 30 seconds and walk for 1 minute and then repeat… I knew I could do that. I wasn’t that unfit! The thought of a 5K run felt enormously out of reach but 30 seconds on and then off was ok. So I did it. I believed that I could follow the steps, I let go of the outcome and just did it. 8 weeks later I ran my first 5K. A year later I ran my first 7km and 18 months later I entered into a 10km race! Me! I did!
It’s a small example but an important one, the most important belief in those first 8 weeks, the one that made the biggest impact on my success was the very first belief. The belief I could run for 30 seconds. If I hadn't believed I could have done that I never would have crossed that 10km finish line and continued to run for 8 years.
The awareness of understanding how our beliefs are serving us, or not, creates choices about what we do with them and what action we can take.
Here are some ways in which you can approach your beliefs and reframe them to help you build your inner confidence and support your goals
What evidence do I have that this belief is true? When you notice a limiting belief come up, shine a light on it and ask yourself what evidence do I have that this is true? Can I be 100% certain that it is true? What does that tell you?
Challenge or reframe your limiting belief. For example a simple reframe is adding the “yet” at the end of your sentence…” I haven’t achieved xxx “yet '' '' Or how about seeing failure as positive and an opportunity for learning. What failure are you most proud of?
Create new neural pathways. If you imagine that your limiting beliefs have been like a record player going round and round in your brain, never challenged, then they are going to be pretty ingrained. To overcome this create new neural pathways, a different tune. The best way to do this is through affirmations, take your positive beliefs and turn them into affirmations and practice them every day for 30 days.
Understanding how our beliefs influence our thoughts and actions puts us in the driving seat and gives us some options in how we think, respond, and act.
How about starting each day with this question? What would you do today if you had total faith in yourself and see the direction it takes you in. You may well be surprised!
If you are looking to increase your confidence and self-belief and would like to discuss how coaching can support you please send me an email email@example.com