Have you heard the quote saying if you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right? It’s true. When you tell yourself you can’t do something you limit yourself. Stay tuned to learn the trick to stop doing this
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
This morning on my commute I was listening to the book “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday and heard the following quote: “Our perceptions determine to a very large extent what we are and are not capable of”. (Ok, the quote may not be perfect, I wrote it after I got to work). Those are some powerful words, putting the ability to increase your success directly in your own hands.
We make our own reality and our beliefs impact our success in life. If you want to increase your success, you have to manage your perceptions and change your thoughts.
Your Perception Is Influenced By Your Thoughts
Whatever that thing is that we experience goes through our mental filter and gets colored by our personal beliefs.
Let’s say you are walking through a mall and see a friend of yours and you wave at that friend, who does not wave back. Your interpretation of this event will certainly impact your perception. If you think she is ignoring you on purpose, you might feel angry or sad. If you feel she just didn’t see you, you likely feel differently.
How might you react to this situation depending on what your belief was? If you were angry at your friend, you might act differently toward her than if you thought she didn’t hear you.
Could the way that you act toward your friend impact your relationship with her? Could your perception of an event, even if incorrect, change the results of that event?
Perception and Success
Think of perception as the way we think or believe about something. If you set your mind on a task, your beliefs about that task are going to impact your ultimate success with that task.
Have you ever had the experience of deciding you were going to do something but then having lots of thoughts about how it’s too hard and you’ll never be able to accomplish everything?
You allow “overwhelm” to creep in, take over and then you freeze. You don’t complete anything.
If you think you can’t do something because it is “too big,” then you probably actually can’t do it. Your thoughts about the task become a self fulfilling prophecy and get in the way of you becoming successful. It would be hard to focus effective energy on something you didn’t believe you could actually do. What would be the point?
If you think you can’t, you probably can’t.
Our life experience influences the way that we perceive things. For example, your prior experience with dogs will influence how you perceive dogs.
I once was attacked by a Golden Retriever (I know, right?!?) and was scared of Golden Retrievers for quite some time after that. Yeah, I’m probably still a little scared of them. This one experience has changed my opinion of my safety around Golden Retrievers.
Negative Beliefs About Yourself
If you hold a belief that you are incompetent or ineffective, it changes the way you interact with things. It affects whether you are successful in life.
If you tell yourself you can’t do things and then when you actually try you fail, it increases the likelihood you will believe you cannot do things in the future. This seems so unfair!
You become anxious about even trying because it sucks to feel like you can’t accomplish something.
What happens when you become anxious or fearful about something? You will probably avoid it.
Avoiding it actually makes you feel better, you have a sense of relief…after all, you no longer have to feel the fear. You escaped. Phew! Dodged a bullet there!
Guess what you just learned. Avoiding doing hard things makes you feel better. So what happens then?
You will avoid again in the future.
All because your belief in the first place told you you couldn’t do it, resulting in you putting forth less effort….then when you didn’t do well it was PROOF that you shouldn’t have tried in the first place.
This has to stop. You are sabotaging yourself!
What Can You Do About This?
It is totally normal to have worries and negative thoughts. The good news is the fact this all started because of a belief means you can actually change your situation. It may not be easy, but you can do it. You get to choose what you believe.
Beliefs only stem from something you’ve told yourself over and over. You can choose to start giving yourself different messages.
What do you think of that?
A belief often feels like a cold, hard fact, but it isn’t. It is just a thought. Telling yourself you can’t do something doesn’t make it true. If you never tried it, how do you know?
Belief sounds pretty strong. How the heck do you change something you believe in? Is it really a choice?
Yes, it is a choice, though not as simple as choosing which sandwich to have for lunch. There is work to be done to change the belief. You don’t just get to say you don’t believe something anymore and magically have that come to pass.
Instead you have to examine and challenge your belief.
Change Your Thoughts and Negative Beliefs
So let’s say your belief is that you cannot start your own blog. Therefore you do not. You might ask yourself what the evidence is that you cannot start your own blog.
Maybe the evidence is that you don’t know how to start your own blog; however, that isn’t really evidence for that belief since there is a solution inherent in that statement. You could learn how to start your own blog. It isn’t that hard. So, this makes the statement “I cannot blog” incorrect. The correct statement is “I don’t know how to blog.”
Take a moment and feel the difference in those statements. I don’t know anyone who was born with the ability to blog. Imagine all the little babies logging into WordPress.
When you notice a belief getting in your way of your moving forward, take a moment and write out all the evidence you can think of both for and against your belief. (I developed a worksheet to help you with this, which you can get by signing up for my free resource library below).
My guess is you will come up with a whole bunch of thoughts that lead you to your current beliefs. The next step is to evaluate that evidence as if you were a scientist.
Ask yourself if the evidence is really true and whether it actually means what you are saying it means. When I said that I felt I couldn’t start a blog because I didn’t know how, I determined that this is not a valid belief because there is a solution. I could just learn how, right?
In fact, I have an email course you can sign up for right on this blog.
Rewrite your statement. Stick with the facts and just put the truth out there. “I don’t know how to start a blog” is a true factual statement.
The secret to success is starting. It is doing the thing. It’s consistently taking one step at a time to just get closer and closer to your goal until you reach it. If you get in your own way before you even start, it’s not going to work. Look at your thoughts and beliefs about the task and examine whether they are are useful. I created a printable worksheet for you to go through this step by step for yourself.
If you need some help, reach out. I’m happy to help. Shoot me an email or leave a comment.
Marlena is the blogger behind apenandapurpose.com, where she writes about using journaling for self improvement and reaching goals in life and business. Using her experience as a Licensed Psychologist with a Master’s in Business, she teaches people how to break through negative thoughts and fear to do what matters. For more about me read my about page.