By : Kevin John
”If You Believe You Can Or You Believe You Can’t, Either Way You’re Probably Right…”
You may have heard this famous saying about beliefs. It sounds contradictory, even ridiculous, but you had better believe that it’s right! Understanding your beliefs, how they control your life and the traps caused by beleifs is a key ingredient in the mental game of success.
What are beliefs?
Very simply beliefs are those things that we believe to be true.
The first trap is that beliefs are personal – what we believe is not the same as what other people believe – two people can look at exactly the same thing and have different beliefs about it… and both can be right.
Yet we all fall into the trap of believing that our beliefs are right while anyone who holds different beliefs is wrong!
Some beliefs are built from shared experiences – we all believe that gravity will cause objects to fall to the ground – most people recognise this one! These basic beliefs which come from incontrovertible external facts are shared by the whole of humanity.
However, the majority of beliefs are not so clearly defined. They are about ourselves and the world we live in- who we are, how we should react, what is good for us, what is bad for us, who we should trust, who likes us… These beliefs are more likely to be shared by smaller groups of people – our friends, family, our cultural groups – or be personal to you as an individual.
Beliefs are formed throughout your life, in childhood, by copying people you respect, as a result of repetitive events, or even single very emotional or traumatic events. You can also pick up beliefs from your culture and your environment. You will have some beliefs for your entire life while beliefs about some things may be changed several times during your life.
It is also important to realise beliefs are not values. Values are more fundamental statements about what is important for you and often underpin your beliefs. You can find out more about values in my article Are Your Personal Values Aligned With Your Path to Success?
Values frequently support your beliefs, although you can also hold beliefs that conflict with your values. Getting beliefs and values lined up is important if you want to be successful.
While you have maybe a few tens of values, you certainly have thousands of beliefs about every subject under the sun.
What do beliefs do for us?
Beliefs are like a lense through which we look at the world. Like a lense they fundamentally distort, reshape and change the importance of the information that we take in through our senses creating the view that we really have of the world.
Beliefs have a strong effect on your behaviour, if you believe you should do something or think something then you usually end up doing or thinking it!
Beliefs strongly influence both what we do and what we learn from our environment – it is difficult for you to learn anything or do anything that you believe is going to be unpleasant or bad for you.
“If you believe you can or you believe you can’t, either way you’re probably right…”
Beliefs not only shape our view of the world but they also control the way that we react, for example if you believe that someone does not like you, you are not going to react to them in same friendly way that you would to one of your friends.
Of course it may be that your belief is completely mistaken, that person may actually like you. However because you have decided that they don’t like you, you continue to react to them as if they were hostile and little by little their opinion of you becomes more negative.
If only you had started with a more positive belief…
Another example is the well known medical “placebo effect”. Something as simple as water administered in a way that causes you to believe that it is the drug that is going to cure you can in fact be as effective as the real drug.
Beliefs can have a shockingly powerful grip on your mind!
Warning – limiting beliefs can ruin your life!
We’ve seen that beliefs can shape our world by affecting the way we perceive it and by affecting the way that we react to it. We have also seen how powerful they can be. This can make beleifs a fantastic tool for you…
… or it can make them a mortal enemy.
Positive beliefs that support your goals and values will produce very positive results for you. However, through no fault of your own, you have almost certainly acquired some limiting beliefs during your childhood.
Limiting beliefs often begin with you saying to yourself – I can’t… They may even have been true or are still true at some time in your life. The danger is that you are likely to automatically apply these beliefs to the rest of your life – jeopardising your future and your success.
For example it may be true that you don’t know how to do something today, but so often, you end up saying to yourself: I can’t do… If you say that often enough it becomes a belief and, as you’ve seen, this belief will almost certainly become the truth.
Even worse are limiting beliefs that are not based on the truth but on some belief that has been instilled into by your parents, your friends, your society… If you believe that you’re destined to be poor or that you’re not capable of making money, well, the outcome is inevitable.
Give Your Beliefs a Check-Up
Think very carefully about your beliefs, for the next seven days, watch yourself as you interact with the world around you and people you meet. Look for those “I can’t…” statements. Identify them, write them down, ask yourself just how much harm are they doing you. Do you want to let them kill your chance of success.
Every time you find yourself making one of those I can’t statements, turn it into a “How can I statement” – “I can’t make more money” becomes “How can I make more money”. Can you feel the difference?
If you do this consistently and persistently, you’d better believe that you will find a difference in your life!
Kevin John has spent many years helping businesses owners, aspiring business owners, and private individuals to develop the understanding and skills that they need to achieve the success that they want. If you would like to comment on this article or ask Kevin a question, you can contact him at email@example.com