A Happiness Journey

Mindset

I am reading a book at the moment called Limitless by Jim Kwik. I’ve been following Jim’s work for a couple of years now and after 30 years of helping people with his brain training and personal development he has finally written a book. He starts by explaining that the best way to learn is to teach so I am taking his advice and I am going to use these weekly blogs to teach what I am learning. That way, I get to commit these practices to memory, and you all get to save yourselves $30. As well as Jim’s teachings I will add some nuggets I have picked up from other great teachers along the way that have helped me.

 

Jim says that you need a combination of 3 things to be able to learn and achieve anything you want, to become Limitless. Without all three combined there is a strong chance you will fall short of your goal. The three things you need are the Mindset, the Motivation and the Methods. First you have to believe it’s possible and that you deserve it, then you need to have the motivation to do the work, finally you need to understand the best methods for doing the thing you want to do.

 

Mindset is the deeply held beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions we create about who we are, how the world works, what we are capable of and deserve, and what is possible. Many of us have very limiting mindsets; we entertain a low belief in ourselves, in one or many of these areas. All our behaviour is driven by belief, so this is the first thing that needs addressing when attempting to learn something new or personally transform in some way.

 

Beliefs – the good, the bad and the ugly

As babies we are born blank slates; we don’t come out with beliefs about what we are capable of. This is something we learn from the culture we experience and the people we grow up around. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, we form the blue print for our lives in the first 9(ish) years of learning whilst our brain is in the hypnotic state, so those beliefs we pick up as children, are the ones that stick with us, buried deep in our subconsciouses, for the rest of our lives. Whether we are consciously aware of them or not, we are full of all these beliefs that we have collected from our parents, peers, teachers and society during our formative years and these beliefs are what shape us as the adults we are today. These beliefs can make us big and successful, but they can also make us small and feel unworthy. As humans we have a natural bias towards the negative due to survival. Good things aren’t likely to kill us so we’re better off focusing on the things are not so good. As a result, many of the beliefs we store in our subconscious for ways to keep us safe, are also negative beliefs. When we hold a negative belief in our subconscious it is designed to keep us small, to limit us and thus it is a limiting belief.

 

Limiting Beliefs – the gift that keeps on giving

L.I.Es are Limited Ideas Entertained. If you are like the majority of the population of the world you are entertaining ideas about yourself that define you as being less than you are actually capable of.

 

When an elephant is a baby it is tethered to the ground with a rope and a stake. The baby elephant is small, and the stake is well buried in the ground so as much as the elephant pulls on the rope to get away, it doesn’t have the strength to break free. Eventually the elephant stops trying as it learns that the effort it futile. When the elephant is grown it has more than enough strength and power to snap the rope and pull the stake from the ground but it has already learned, in adolescence, that it cannot be done so it doesn’t try. This is called learned helplessness. If we don’t consciously make ourselves aware of the limiting beliefs we have picked up in childhood we just mindlessly carry them with us through adulthood.

 

The easiest way to be able to tell what your limiting beliefs may be about a certain topic is to look at your life. Your external world is a direct reflection of your internal world. Do you spend money as quickly as you make it? Do you find yourself repeatedly in relationships with the same kind of people even though you think you don’t want to be? Do you feel there is a glass ceiling to what you can achieve in your career or love life? When you examine any area of your life, and get to the root of the issue, you will see that this pattern is a reflection of something you witnessed, or were told, from childhood, that you have turned into a belief. These beliefs don’t just come from things we have directly been told, they also come from things that have been indirectly inferred, or from situations we have witnessed and placed our own judgment on. We are the sum of our environment in which we grew and the way we perceived it.

 

Many people have a fear of public speaking, this is pretty common. When you speak to a lot of people with this fear they will be able to tell you about a time at school when they were asked to read out loud and they stumbled over a word and felt shame or ridicule for it. A direct limiting belief could come from being told you’ll never amount to anything as a child. It may come from a time you did something and failed. It may come from a time you were rejected by a loved one when you put yourself out there. An inferred belief may be hearing your parents make negative comments about the couple down the road getting divorced so your young brain worked out that failing at relationships is a bad thing, frowned upon and should be avoided. The beliefs we pick up are infinite and the ways in which we can pick them up are vast so I won’t go into too many examples.

 

Not all beliefs are limiting, and it is easy to see this in many areas of society. Ever notice that sometimes the rich just keep getting richer? Many people who are born into money, have been surrounded by wealth and have seen financially successful people around them growing up have not experienced a lack mindset around money before, so they don’t have any limiting beliefs in place to hold them back in that area, so oftentimes wealth fosters more wealth. But if you didn’t grow up around wealth you may have witnessed a lot of lack mentality around money and those habits and beliefs your parents held about money when you were young may be the same beliefs you unknowingly also carry around money. This is the same for everything, not just money. Love, relationships, career, travel, success, drive, creativity etc etc.

 

The inner-critic and the inner-best friend

Limiting beliefs are often disguised in our self-talk, our inner-critic, that tells us what we can’t do, instead of reminding us what we excel at and all the things we’re capable of. How often does that inner critical voice in your head stop you from doing things by telling you it’s a silly idea, or it’s not meant for you, or you couldn’t even do it if you tried?

 

Your mind responds to two things; the pictures you make in your head and the things you say to yourself. Your mind will use these two things to decide what it thinks are in your best interest to keep you safe. If you say things like “oh my god, I’ll just die if he makes me speak in front of the whole team” then guess what? Your brain is going to think – “I DON’T WANT TO DIE, I should just make sure I do everything in my power to stop her from having to speak out loud”.

 

You need to be mindful of how you talk to yourself and to others. Carefully listen to yourself using phrases like “I can’t,” “I’m not,” or “I don’t”. These are the instructions you are telling your brain. Perhaps you tell people you’re terrible at telling jokes, and maybe this is not a big deal to you because you don’t care whether or not you can tell good jokes. But this message may also be telling your brain that you don’t think you’re entertaining, or good company or an enjoyable companion, and that can have very damaging consequences on how you maintain personal relationships or interact with people in new situations. When using this kind of negative language try adding the word YET. “I’m not great at telling jokes yet”. This reframe is giving a new instruction, a different instruction to the brain. When you find yourself saying things like “I always screw up this kind of thing” counter that with “just because I haven’t always been good at this in the past doesn’t mean I can’t be great at it now”.

 

Whilst these limiting beliefs can hold you back in every area of your life they don’t have to. Like any belief, if you can finally see the reality in something different, you can change your belief.

 

Finding examples of people/things that blow your limiting belief out the water!

Jim uses a beautiful story that I love in his book. He tells the story of Sir Roger Bannister. Sir Roger Bannister was a British Olympic athlete who ran track back in the 50’s. Back then it was believed that no human being could break the 4-minute mile barrier, it was believed it was physically impossible, that our hearts would literally explode under the exertion. Many athletes tried, and none came close. Roger studied medicine at University and he just couldn’t believe that the human heart was incapable of this feat so he took his new belief and his knowledge of human physiology and sport and he trained with the specific goal of breaking the 4 minute mile. On May 6th 1954 he ran 3 minutes 59.4 seconds and achieved a feat the entire world believed was impossible. Once he did it, it was a mere 46 days before that record was broken and from that point on, many people broke that barrier. He acted as an example to people to prove that something that was once held as fact, was not fact at all. Roger is one of life’s way-showers and there are many out there like him.

 

I follow a woman on social media called Lacy Phillips. She uses the term ‘Expander’ to describe a person who shows your subconscious that something is possible. Want to swim the channel in your 60’s? Find the person who’s done that and expand your belief. Want to start your own company but you come from a working-class background where everyone was employed? Find those people who came from your background and went on to start their own business. If you can dream it then you can guarantee it’s already been done by someone somewhere, let them be that Expander for you, find your Roger Bannisters.

 

Reframing your limiting beliefs

One of the most frustrating and damaging things about limiting beliefs is that they are rarely even true. Are you really honestly absolutely terrible at public speaking? How many times have people actually booed in your face? How many people have come up to you and said “do you know what? That was the worst example I have ever seen of public speaking”? Has this happened every single time you have spoken in public? I’d hazard a guess that none of these things have happened. It might be what we fear will happen but it hasn’t actually happened. If you believe something to be true, look at the evidence. How many times have you been in these situations and had the worst case scenario actually happen? What have the results been?

 

When you are aware of a limiting belief you have, you need to work to remove that belief. You do this by proving it to be untrue. Like a solid table, if you take out one leg it will begin to wobble, if you take out two legs it will fall over. So find the legs in your belief and take them out one by one. Once you actually sit and write down some of the limiting beliefs you have, you can also see that many of them would just have been opinions of other people based on themselves rather than universal law or fact. Some limiting beliefs may merely have taken hold because you tried to do something a couple of times as a kid and failed. Being aware of what is holding you back and identifying what your self-talk is can be incredibly liberating. Once you recognise what the belief is, you can find all the examples in your life that prove your belief isn’t even true. You can list everything, big and small, that you have done in the past couple of years (or longer) to prove the invalidity of the belief. That’s one table leg. Then you go out and you find examples of many other people who have accomplished the thing you are trying to accomplish at your stage of life, that’s the other table leg. Now your old belief is all wobbly and lacks its foundations so you can create a new belief.

 

For example, you’re 40 years old and you want to learn the guitar. You keep picking it up to learn but you can’t seem to stick with it. You don’t understand why you’re finding it so difficult to just commit to taking lessons and learning the guitar. You sit down and think about it and you remember your granddad telling you that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks; that once you reach a certain age you are not capable of learning anything new. Logically you know this isn’t true but your young mind has taken this belief offered to you by an elder and now it’s buried in your subconscious. Now you need to find all the times in your adult life you have learned something new (like driving a car) that prove you can learn new things as an old dog. Then you can go and find all the other old dogs that learnt a musical instrument so your subconscious is even more expanded. Then you need your new belief. Your new belief may be “whilst it may be harder to learn the guitar as an adult than it would have been as a child, it is something I really want to do and I know it is possible” or “now I’m an adult I finally have the finances available to hire a great guitar coach that I couldn’t have had as a child so I am much more likely to succeed now than I would have then.”

 

Process

Identify – What is the limiting belief or self-talk holding you back?

Examine – Is it even unrefutably true?

Evidence – What evidence can I find to prove it isn’t 100% true?

Expand – Who else has achieved what it is I want to achieve?

New belief – Insert your new belief here and practice it until it’s second nature

 

Once you are aware of how you speak to yourself and others you can change your internal and external dialogue. As with anything in life you need to practice it, it doesn’t just change overnight. We don’t have 5 year old hypnotic brains anymore so we need to work at it. You may feel alien thinking positive things and saying positive things at first, you may not even believe them at first, but like learning to drive the car, first it’s super hard and incredible exhausting, and before you know it you’ve done it so many times you don’t even need to think about it any more because you have committed it to your subconscious.

 

Next week we’ll look at Motivation. We know what we want to do, we believe we can do it, we believe we deserve it, now to find the motivation to get off our bums and achieve it.

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