He who thinks he can…

Beliefs and more importantly the beliefs we hold about ourselves (self-belief), are extremely powerful things. There is a lot of information ‘out there’ about beliefs, it is a huge subject. In this blog I want to introduce you to the topic and to some of the key points about beliefs. There is a quote by Henry Ford that is often used to capture the essence of beliefs, however, I saw the following one and thought I’d use it instead.

He can who thinks he can, and he can’t who thinks he can’t. This is an inexorable, indisputable law – Pablo Picasso

What are beliefs?

Any guiding principle, dictum, faith or passion that can provide meaning and direction to life – Tony Robbins

Beliefs are assumptions, presuppositions, premises that we hold to be true. The beliefs we hold influence our behaviour and act as guiding principles (our internal compass). Beliefs can be considered to be a map of the past, as the beliefs we hold now are formed from our experiences, upbringing, media, culture, expectations and repetition/habit. However, they can also serve as a blueprint for the future as we can change our beliefs by changing our thinking, what we expose ourselves to, what we experience etc.

Self-belief is what we believe to be true about ourselves and is made up by what we are told about ourselves by others, what we think about ourselves, what we feel about ourselves and how we see ourselves.

There are fundamentally three types of belief:

  • Pure beliefs: these tend not to invoke any form of emotion and cover common beliefs such as the sun will rise in the morning.
  • Positive beliefs: these are supportive, give ‘permission’, release our capabilities and allow us to create results. I/it can…
  • Limiting beliefs: these are negative and tend to hamper us, I/it can’t. These tend to exist in three forms:
    • Worthlessness: do not believe that you deserve to achieve something
    • Helplessness: belief that we are not capable of doing something even though it is possible
    • Hopelessness: do not believe that something is possible

What makes beliefs so important?

Beliefs are so important because we tend to act as if they are truths. They provide strong perceptual filters through which we interpret events and experiences, the filters tend to let through the data that maintains and reinforces our beliefs. In that way they tend to become self-fulfilling. This is sometimes referred to as the Pygmalion or placebo effect.

I hope that you can see from this, that if you believe or you have been repeatedly been told that you are not capable of something or do not deserve something that it is highly likely that you will sub-conciously find the evidence to support those beliefs and vice-versa.

Change your beliefs, change your future

It is worth knowing that beliefs are not fixed, it is possible to acquire and develop new ones. If you want to be successful, to achieve, you can develop the beliefs that will support you and move you towards that. As I’ve said above beliefs are formed from what we experience, repetition, the media, who and what we expose ourselve to. Here are a few thoughts on how you might do that:

  • Positive self-talk statements/affirmations
  • Act as if you can:
  • Get to know and associate with positive role models
  • Associate with people who will support and help you, not knock you back
  • Define and break down goals into ‘bite-size’ chunks and deliver them; that will give you the regular experience of success and build confidence
  • Study, read or listen to the stories of others who have been successful or have achieved similar things to what you wish to

As you develop the new beliefs your perceptual filters and behaviours will change and develop to support your new beliefs.

Take a little time now and think about your beliefs, are they helpful or hindering? What beliefs would it be useful for you to develop to support and deliver your goals and vision? How might you develop them?

Next time we move on to the importance of planning

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Creative Commons License photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography