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How thoughts, beliefs & language shape our daily life
Everything starts with a thought
Every idea, intention, goal or decision starts with a thought. We have up to 70,000 thoughts per day, starting as soon as we wake up and ending when we fall asleep in the evening. Of course, being “thoughts” means they are not real, so why bother with them? Why do we have to focus on our thoughts? Are they really so important? YES they are! Thoughts determine what we achieve or do not achieve in life, and what we get and what we don't get. Thoughts determine our focus and therefore our state of mind. Some thoughts are processed so many times that they become hardwired in our brain, and we don't even question them anymore. The more we process the same thoughts, the more we believe in them. Then we start to reaffirm that what we do is, indeed, correct. A thought can be empowering or it can be destructive, it can unleash our potential or it can limit us. Unfortunately, due to the protection mechanism in our brains, most of our thoughts are limiting us. The protection aspect is there with good intentions and in case there is a real threat but, in many cases, the protection pattern creates fear and worry based on past experiences and negative beliefs that we have built from the past. So in other words, most people are living in the past, with their past subconscious. Thanks to neuroplastic science discoveries, we can change our brain and free ourselves from destructive thoughts and habits.
How you talk to yourself sets the path to success or failure
In every training class in business, education, and team building workshops I have participated in, communication was always on top of the importance list. I absolutely agree with this. If we cannot communicate effectively, we will not get what we are striving for. Right? But what about the communication we have with ourselves? Is that important, or is it just normal or common if we tell ourselves that we are dumb? Here is the answer: the communication we have with ourselves is critical to unleash our own power. What we tell ourselves on a consistent basis becomes a belief in our subconscious mind, and our brain does whatever it takes to fulfil that belief. A scenario: whenever you fail to achieve a goal, even a small one, and you keep telling yourself ”I failed, I can't do it”, or “I am a failure” and you feel ashamed, you're forming a new belief of yourself, a belief that will prevent you from trying something new in the future. Your brain wants to protect you from being ashamed and feeling bad, and you will start to tell yourself thousands of reasons why you should not do it. In this case, being “ashamed” or “failing” pushes the red button that triggers the “fight or flight” response. And when you find reasons that sound reasonable because they confirm your belief, then you avoid anything new on an ongoing basis. The language pattern that you use to talk to yourself is key and crucial to success. Build awareness around it and start changing the negativity into positive self-worth statements.
The impact of "I can't" vs. "I can"
When you tell yourself, "I can do this", you stand a good chance of being right. But if you say to yourself, "I can't do this", you will be also be right. The reason? When you use self-defeating language, the creative part of your brain, which works to find solutions, will shut down. Science has discovered that using different words to express yourself activates different parts of the brain. For example, telling yourself "I can't do this” activates the part of brain that is responsible for reasoning, relies on past experiences, and does not look for further possibilities. If you say "I can...", like "I can check how we can do it...", another part of the brain gets activated and the creative process starts to run. “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t - you’re right” is a famous quote by Henry Ford. This has actual science behind it. Unfortunately, beliefs and self-talk, such as “I don't know”, “I can't do this”, “I'm not good enough to do this” are most likely hardwired and automatic from past experiences of repeating them over and over again. Changing these patterns requires awareness, commitment, and daily discipline in exercises. The good news is that it can be changed, and we have the ability to change it!
Belief is the core of decision making
Let’s start by looking into what a belief is. A few years back, a co-worker told me about how my beliefs were conditioning my life. I looked at him like he was an alien. I told him that my beliefs must be true, since I grew up using them. Lately, I have seen more discussion about “limiting beliefs”, so what is this about? Well, today I understand what my old co-worker was saying. Our beliefs shape our reality. What we believe to be true or not true will determine how we feel, our decisions, and the actions we take. The point is, beliefs shape our life and therefore it is worth the time and effort to understand where they came from, how they emerged, and what we can do about it. A belief is simply what we belief to be true, or not true, about ourselves and the world. Beliefs passed from one person to another person are not necessarily true, though. Some of them are old and don't serve us anymore. They may create anxiety and prevent us from living up to our full potential. Beliefs that we developed from experiences in the first seven years of our life are stores in our subconscious mind, and these are our so-called core beliefs. Other beliefs are built during teenage and early adulthood, and some are formed later. As we live, we build new beliefs around these core beliefs, and we become more and more sensitive to beliefs and behaviors that may not even be true. New beliefs can change our life dramatically and provide real freedom.
A belief is a manifestation of a thought that you keep thinking and saying
This is such a fantastic discovery, which leads many people to scratch their head, but at the end, they have to admit that this is the truth. A belief emerges out of a thought that you keep thinking and saying. The more you affirm something, the more you start to believe in the wide range of consequences. Some beliefs and their related effects are hardwired – they repeat themselves continuously, often without us even realizing it. A scenario: let’s take a student that has to give a speech in front of his class during his 5th year at school. He has to do a presentation about a specific topic, he prepares everything well, but during the presentation he stumbles on a word, and everyone laughs. He gets over the embarrassment from that incident, but then a few months later the same thing happens again. And this time not only are classmates laughing at him, but now the professor gives him some negative comments. Even if the student had taken it easy, the neuro associations were made in the brain, affirming that he was not good at public speaking and what he delivered was not good enough. From this point on, this core belief will strike every time this person has to speak in front of people or deliver a project at work. And whenever he processes the belief, it is reinforced. You can change the belief the same way it was built and set yourself free from these chains that are holding you back
Questions you ask yourself are seminal
We all want to know what's going on; that is why we constantly ask questions and seek answers and solutions for common, day-to-day personal struggles. If we don't feel well, or if unpleasant events happen, we always want to know why. We look inside ourselves and we ask why others respond to us in certain ways. In fact, the questions we ask ourselves, and the answers we get, can be very different. Depending on how we ask the questions, we may get good answers from our brain, or not. Our brain always delivers an answer, no matter what the question is. So if you ask "Why does this always happen to me", you can think to yourself “Because I deserve it.” If the event is unpleasant, your focus can easily shift into negativity and you feel guilty, ashamed, and so on. But by turning the situation into a learning opportunity and reframing the question as “What can I learn from this?” Your thoughts can shift and you can start to use your brain to find empowering answers; this action shifts your focus to the positive side. In other words, your focus impacts your mood and your emotional state, and your focus is ruled by the questions you ask yourself. This means that a negative question causes a bad focus, which then produces bad emotions and feelings. But when you shift your attitude to learn something new by asking yourself empowering questions, you can unleash creative power while also disempowering the negative thoughts that keep you from moving forward.
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