Do you believe everything you hear?
I doubt it.
But what if it's coming from your own skull?
- "You can't run 100 miles, you'll get hurt"
- "You don't have time to play, you have to get rich first"
- "That's way too heavy for you, you're not strong enough"
- "You're not deserving of love yet, you have a lot to work on"
The Science Foundation says the average person has between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day.
Of those thoughts, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive.
There is nothing wrong with having a lot of thoughts.
There is also nothing wrong with how many are positive or negative.
The problem arises when we assume they are true.
Every thought comes from a deeper belief about ourselves.
And beliefs come from two places
- Personal experience
- Other people
Neither of which are always true.
I recently discovered a false belief I had been carrying for over a decade.
Ignorant to it's negative impact on my life.
Until this moment. 👇
Questioning My Beliefs
I went to Kalamazoo Michigan to stay with a buddy and his fiancé.
No plans and no agenda.
Just quality time with good friends I don't get to see often.
My buddy and his fiancé have been dating for 8+ years and living together the entire time.
During my stay, he asked me something that seemed trivial at the moment.
"Once you're done traveling, do you think you'll live with your girlfriend?"
It shook my world.
The first thought that popped into my head... "No way!"
But I sat with it for a moment... and suddenly became very curious about the belief behind that thought.
I started regurgitating to him the story I was hearing in my head.
- "I should never live with a partner before marriage"
- "Living together before marriage will destroy my relationship"
- "My relationship is more likely to fail if I live together before marriage"
As mentioned before, all belief comes from two places.
- Personal experience
- Other people
This one... was from someone else.
I never chose to believe it.
Someone said it to me at some point in my life and I accepted it as truth.
Fun fact, it's not even true.
Like everything in life, it's more nuanced than that.
Here's the fascinating part.
We are all littered with these types of beliefs.
Beliefs about ourselves that we believe so deeply that we never think to question them.
Ironically, these are the ones that are most dangerous.
Playing us like a fiddle.
Dictating our choices without our conscious awareness.
Sometimes these beliefs are for the better.
But sometimes these beliefs are for the worse.
This is why it's so important that we stress test them.
That we shine the flashlight on them.
That we stair directly into them regardless of how uncomfortable they are.
Here's how. 👇
Step 1 - Awareness
All change starts with awareness.
Using my example above, I became aware of the story in my head. The chattering of the internal voice.
It was the noticing of the thought that gave me the space needed to create distance from it.
To be able to observe it as it is.
Just a thought.
At this point, you probably think I'm going to tell you to start meditating.
But here's what I'll say.
If you want to make meaningful change in your life for the better. You need some practice of tapping into your thought process.
The voice in your head that talks on average 12,000 - 60,000 times.
- Nature walks
There are an infinite number of ways to do this and it's unique to you.
But don't skip this step.
Develop a practice that allows you to notice your thinking.
Step 2 - Ask Questions
Once you're aware of your thoughts.
It becomes much easier to test their validity.
You do this by questioning them.
- Is it even true?
- Does this serve me?
- Why do I believe this?
- Where did I learn this?
- What are alternative perspectives?
Using my example from above of living with a partner before marriage.
- It's not true
- It doesn't serve me
- I learned it from someone else
- There are tons of people who lived together and turned out just fine
Clearly, I needed a new perspective.
The easiest way to do this is to talk to someone with an alternative viewpoint.
Luckily, the person I was visiting had just that.
Which is why my belief system shattered a bit that day.
My literal brother taught me this long ago.
He said something I'll never forget.
"I'm always searching for Mr. Wrong, not Mr. Right"
In other words... he looks for perspectives that challenge his beliefs.
Not ones that reinforce his current beliefs.
He questions everything.
Especially those beliefs he hold so deeply that he never think to question them.
Step 3 - Reframe
Here's what I love most about beliefs.
You can always change your mind.
You're never stuck in one way of thinking.
Once you have an awareness of your beliefs and have gathered alternative viewpoints.
It's time to make a choice.
To adopt it or to discard it.
Here's how I look at it.
Does this belief move me closer to my goals?
- If yes, I adopt it.
- If no, I discard it.
Here are a few common examples.
"That the world is dangerous and unsafe."
This belief is mostly driven by the news narrative to get you to watch more news.
For starters, it's not even true.
If you don't believe me, read Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World--and Why Things Are Better Than You Think.
But even if it was true.
- Does this belief make me want to explore the world?
- Does this belief make me a happier person?
- Does this belief give me hope for humanity?
No... no... and no.
Nothing about this belief serves me.
So I discard it.
"Money is the root of all evil."
We're all familiar with this one.
It has been preached to us since birth.
Again... It's not even true.
Read Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth if you don't believe me.
But even if it was.
- Does this belief inspire me to make money?
- Does this belief make me want to strive for financial freedom?
- Does this belief encourage me to connect with people who are richer and smarter than me?
No... no... and no.
So I discard it.
"I can't lose if I don't quit."
This one is personal to me.
I lean on it a lot.
- When I feel like my business is going to fail
- When I don't want to run one more mile
- When I want to quit the podcast show
- When I resent posting one more piece of content
This belief carries me through.
It might not even be true.
But even if it isn't.
- It gets me to take action
- It keeps me moving forward
- It inspires me to never quit
- It encourages me to dig deep
Ultimately, it moves me closer towards my goals.
So I adopt it.
This all probably seems like I'm ignorant of reality.
That I'm making up beliefs as I go.
Which in all fairness... you're sort of right.
But what's the alternative?
- Believe that the world is a terrible place?
- Believe that you have no control over your life?
- Believe that you're doomed for suffering?
- Believe that everything is pointless and useless?
If given the choice (which we are).
Doesn't it make more sense to believe in the things that make us a healthier, happier, and more prosperous human?
Seems obvious if you ask me.
- Don't believe everything your mind tells you.
- Have an awareness practice.
- Question your own belief system.
- Choose the beliefs that serve you.
If you want to learn more about the stories we tell ourselves, contact me here.
Hope you enjoyed this one, my friend.