Even though you’ve accomplished a lot in your life so far and have been successful, you still have those nagging doubts. You’re not sure if you can have more happiness or self-fulfilment – if you deserve more happiness or self-fulfilment.
At home when you were a child, the environment was more negative than positive. Something – or someone – was always wrong. There were a lot of ‘conditions’: if only ____________ were like this, if only you behaved better, if only my boss _____________ me more, if only I had more time I would ____________, if only you didn’t make mistakes, if only you were more ________________-, etc. You developed a very strong sense of what you couldn’t do, especially that you couldn’t do enough in most situations.
As an adult, you entered a society that was also more negative than positive. A society with a fast-everything mentality, a celebrity culture and a new level of ‘wrongness’: not enough time to do what’s expected, not enough energy, not _____________ enough to be successful, be like ___________ and you’ll be successful, etc. A society with the viewpoint that your genes determine everything in your life – your health, your happiness, your well-being – rendering you effectively powerless. And, as if you needed more negativity, you’re constantly bombarded by death and disaster in the media.
It’s clear you come by your negative self-beliefs honestly!
Then there’s the fact that your wonderful human brain is wired to have a negativity bias. This bias dates back to prehistoric times when your forebears were constantly on high alert for predators – they faced real external threats to their lives. Despite the huge changes in society, your brain still has this bias, constantly scanning for possible threats. Your senses read the environment around you, sending back information to your cells, which then direct your body to act and behave in response to your environment.
The problem with negative self-beliefs
How you view the environment determines what your cells do in response.
If you view the environment negatively, as if everything is a potential threat, then your body will respond accordingly, putting you in fight or flight mode – in stress mode. Being in stress mode for more than a short period is bad for your health. It shuts down your immune system and sends more resources to your limbs for fight or flight, squeezing the resources from the rest of your body and making you less intelligent and incapable of rational thinking. If, however, you view the environment positively, as if you’re safe, then your body will respond by putting you in regular mode, able to think logically, make complex decisions, be creative and protect yourself from disease via your immune system.
Your perceptions control your cells, including your genes.
Your perceptions control your behaviour.
Your perceptions rewrite your cells (and genes).
Your perceptions rewrite your behaviour.
Your life is the result of your perceptions.
The solutions to negative thinking lie inside you
You are incredibly powerful.
You are not powerless, despite what society, old scientific knowledge and your home environment told you. With negative self-beliefs, you have the power to limit yourself and harm your health and well-being. With positive self-beliefs, you have the power to be limitless – to be healthy, happy, self-fulfilled and to do anything that your limitless self sees for you.
How to change your belief system:
- Acknowledge and accept that your current belief systems are negative and that you want to change this. You can’t change what isn’t true!
- Believe and commit. Start believing that you can change your beliefs and commit 100% to doing it. If you doubt that you can, you won’t succeed. As Henry Ford said: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”
- Increase your happiness and positivity. There are a number of exercises that, if practiced daily, are scientifically proven to increase your positivity levels and happiness. Here are five*:
- Daily gratitude practice. Every evening, write down three new things you were grateful for that day. After a week, you’ll have 21 reasons to be grateful!
- Daily generosity. Do an act of kindness – give an extra large tip, write a work colleague an email praising her work, thank a loved one for something. Being generous makes you feel good!
- Daily meditation. Mediation is an amazing way to rewire your brain for happiness. Even closing your eyes and focussing on your breath for two minutes a day has an effect! Find the type of meditation that works for you and start practicing today.
- Replay positive memories. Every day, replay something positive that happened in your past – a success, a happy event. You’re great at constantly replaying negative memories so change it up for positive ones!
- Fun exercise. Dance around to your favourite music or walk in your favourite park for 15 minutes every day. A fun cardio boost improves your mood!
- Deepen social connections. The quality of your social connections is the most important factor in having a happy, successful life. Deep, meaningful connections deliver positive energy – when times are good and bad. Choose wisely and go deep!
- Physical activity. Moderate exercise like walking and hiking for 30 minutes every day improves your mood. And vigorous exercise for 20 minutes three times a week boosts your happiness. Be active and you can’t go wrong!
- Mental activity. Deep learning about something you’re interested in is great for your self-esteem. When you master something you care about, it’s very powerful. Self-esteem is essential for positivity so hit those podcasts / videos / books today!
- High quality nourishment. You are what you eat. You can’t expect to have a high performance system if you nourish it with junk.
Create new, positive habits and change your negative self-beliefs into positive self-belief. Change the way you view the world from negative to positive, and make yourself healthier, happier and more self-fulfilled.
You are what you believe. Believe the best.
* Source: Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage