Whether you think you can or you think you can’t,
you’re right. –Henry Ford
I remember a few years ago seeing Tony Robbins demonstrate something amazing to his audience. You can try it yourself if you’d like, I think you’ll be amazed.
Stand up and put your hand in front of you with your thumb up, like you’re giving someone the “thumbs up” sign. Now, with your arm extended in front of you, twist your torso as far as you can, and notice where in the room your thumb is pointing.
Now, close your eyes and imagine your torso spinning freely like a top. There is no limit to the number of times your body can spin. After a few seconds of visualizing, keep your eyes closed and again twist your torso as far as you can and notice what position your thumb is in relation to the room.
If you’re like most people, you will have twisted about 10-15 percent further than the first time. I have tried this on myself and others, and I continue to be amazed.
To me, it highlights an important principle: the power of our beliefs.
We all have messages we tell ourselves every day. They may not be conscious, but they are like a constantly repeating playlist. And for most of us, they are not messages that empower. We repeat our failures and fears. We replay the times we tripped, spoken out of turn or made a fool of ourselves. And even though we might not consciously think about them, they are there, guiding our decisions and our future.
We are constantly making what I call “micro-decisions.” These are tiny moments throughout our day that we make seemingly insignificant decisions, so small that we might not even recognize them as decisions. Speak up in a meeting or not. Eat the junk food or not. Check my Facebook or not. I’m making constant decisions to do – or not do – a myriad of things throughout my day.
Stop to consider how often those decisions are guided by the internal playlist in our minds. Past failures affect my willingness to take chances. Past conflicts might stop me from making myself vulnerable. Past mistakes can make me hesitant to try something out of my comfort zone. Then, when I do try and fail, I use that experience to reinforce my current, self-limiting beliefs.
And we don’t even think about it consciously. We just don’t do it. We write off opportunities without consideration. We turn the other way by habit. We close ourselves off even before we encounter something new. It’s just how we view the world. “I’m not creative.” “I’m not that kind of person.” “I don’t think so.”
What might happen if we paused that playlist? Or what might happen if we started a new playlist? Might our lives change? Might we find ourselves open to new experiences and opportunities? Might we find the success we’ve been hoping for?
But how do you change the playlist. If were that easy, why wouldn’t we do so? Wouldn’t everyone do so? It’s not automatic, but there are some strategies you can put in place to begin slowly transforming those negative beliefs and expectations into something positive.
Rethink Your Past
In the movie “Pretty Woman,” the characters Vivian and Edward, played Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, are lying in bed talking:
Vivian: People put you down enough, you start to believe it.
Edward: I think you are a very bright, very special woman.
Vivian: The bad stuff is easier to believe. You ever notice that?
The bad stuff is easier to believe, and to remember. That internal playlist rarely contains memories of our good moments. The times we have succeeded are usually not on the list. It’s the failures and mistakes that are easier to remember and believe.
Instead, create a playlist of positive memories. Think about the times you have tried and succeeded. Think about the people who have respected and looked up to you. Think about your wins, not your losses. Make a list of those times. Seriously, write them down and keep the list. Refer to it when you’re feeling bad about yourself or when you catch yourself in a self-limiting pattern of fear.
Rethink Your Present
Oprah Winfrey once said, “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.” That’s good advice. With whom are you surrounding yourself? What are you reading? Who is speaking into your life?
If Jim Rohn’s axiom that “you are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time” is true, then it might be time to evaluate who those five are. Are they inspiring and pushing you toward your goals? Do they fill you with joy and expectation of the future? Or are they reminders of where you’ve been?
Rethink your village. You might have to say goodbye to some friends. You might have to pause some relationships. You might have to make decisions about those in your life who are holding you back and those who are propelling you forward.
And it’s not just people. What books are you reading? Which films and shows are you watching? What music do you listen to? We all know how a song can instantly transport us to a memory. How much time do you want to spend in those memories? How much time do you want to spend reading or watching things that don’t push you forward. I’m not discouraging entertainment. We all need times when we just turn off our brain and enjoy some mindless mental comfort food. I’m talking about the constant messages and influences you are allowing to affect you. We have to get intentional about those interactions, or they will never change. And if they never change, we will never reach our fullest potential.
Rethink Your Future
In 1989, a psychologist named Robert Zajonc published one of the most significant studies on the emotional effect of smiling. His results showed just smiling at yourself in a mirror can cause happy feelings. Imagine what might happen if we accompanied that smile with powerful, positive affirmations of our future.
Many people hear the word “mantra” and think of something mystical and metaphysical. But that’s not necessarily the case. You most likely are already repeating mantras to yourself every day. They’re those limiting thoughts and beliefs.
Since you are already repeating messages to yourself, why not make them positive. Why not fill your mind with belief instead of unbelief, courage instead of fear, expectation of good, not bad. I can instead of I can’t.
Write down messages on cards and carry them with you. Post them on the bathroom mirror. Make them your screen saver. Bombard yourself with messages that inspire hope and expectation. They may seem unrealistic or untrue. That’s ok. Speak what you dream. Speak beyond what you think is possible.
Money flows to me in abundance.
I’m making decisions every day that lead me to my goals.
I’m constantly seeing my dreams come true.
Again, it’s not metaphysical woo woo. It’s training your brain to expect good instead of bad. And as you fill your mind with those thoughts, your micro-decisions begin to change. You begin to see reality taking the shape of your expectations.
Your thoughts determine your decisions, your decisions determine your actions, and your actions determine your destiny. Become intentional about looping a mental playlist of positive messages that empower you to reach your potential. Put the playlist of failure and fear on pause and see how your life changes.