Where do beliefs come from? Parents, church, authority figures? Why do some people believe in a god and others not? Do beliefs come from experiences? Or do they come from some combination of all of these?
Whatever the case, if you do not believe that you have the power to change your beliefs, then one thing is for sure: you will make no attempt to change them.
for sure: certain, without doubt, definitely true
Gandhi on Beliefs
In my first betterment letter, I included a quotation from Gandhi. The first line states, “Your beliefs become your thoughts.”
If we replaced each occurrence of become with create, the quote would become:
Your beliefs create your thoughts,
Your thoughts create your words,
Your words create your actions,
Your actions create your habits,
Your habits create your values,
Your values create your destiny.
This all flows very well until we get to the part about habits and values. What does it mean for habits to create values and values to create destiny?
destiny: what happens in the future (whether you believe it is predetermined or controllable), similar to destination or where you are going
Eliminate Hypocrisy: Match Habits to Values
If we repeatedly do something, ideally, it would follow that it is of value to us. Unfortunately, more often than not, we get stuck in habits that do not reflect what we say we value. It follows that we become what we repeatedly do. If we do not examine our values and habits, we run the risk of becoming hypocrites.
run the risk: do something that may have a bad result, take a chance that something bad will happen
hypocrite /ˈhɪpəˌkrɪt/: someone who claims to believe something but whose behavior and actions show the opposite, a person who acts in contradiction to their stated beliefs or feelings
From the outside looking in, what we do tells others what we value. One of the first things that comes to mind is parents who say, “Do as I say, not as I do.” This proverb advises us to follow someone’s instructions and not their actions.
By taking a close look at our values, we can begin to adjust our behaviors to match them. In doing so, we can change our future and become the person we say we want to be.
Related post: Habits: Change your habits, change your life
If these ideas resonate with you, you might be eager to begin doing the work that will change your future. However, beginning with beliefs is a difficult place to begin.
resonate: to affect or appeal to someone in a personal or emotional way
First, you must know what you believe. Then, you must investigate the source of the belief. Why do you believe what you believe? Where did the belief come from? What, or who, created the belief? Is the belief a reflection of your true values? Is it a belief that you want to keep?
Question Your Beliefs
Because beliefs eventually lead to habits, it’s important to check in with your beliefs and make a conscious decision about whether you truly believe something or whether you are simply stuck in habit loop created by someone else’s beliefs.
check in: analyze and evaluate to verify (in this particular context – in other contexts, check in has other meanings)
By confirming your beliefs, you can be more confident that your actions are in alignment with your thoughts and the direction you want your life to go in.
in alignment: in agreement
If your actions are aligned with your thoughts, they match them and are compatible.
We all have inner critics. Our inner critic tends to see the worst in us. It asks questions like, “Why am I so stupid?” and “Why can’t I ever do anything right?” Our inner critic tends to get stuck in what Dr. Marilee Adams calls the Judger Pit.
Dr. Adams describes two mindsets: Learner and Judger. By changing the types of questions we ask ourselves, we can begin to quiet our inner critic and move from a Judger mindset to a Learner mindset. I’ll talk a little bit more about this soon.
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“If you can see the connections between who you are, what you believe, and what you are doing, you will know when you are on course, when there is tension, when there might need to be some careful compromises, and when you are in need of a major course correction.”
– Bill Burnett and Dave Evans (Designing Your Life)
In the first betterment letter, I asked, “Are any of your beliefs holding you back or limiting you in some way?” You’ll find my answer below. Remember, our beliefs become our thoughts. Judger thoughts mire us in negativity.
mire: cause to become trapped in a difficult situation
When I was young, I was given the message that I was not good enough. I internalized this belief. Internalized beliefs, ones that we take in and allow to unconsciously guide us through life, can be difficult to shake.
to shake: to remove, change, get away from or get rid of (U.S. informal)
Source: Collins Dictionary
I’m still working to change this inaccurate belief at a deep level. However, each day I do the work it takes to be the person I want to become. Some days I am more successful than others.
It’s helpful to start again each day and not lament the days when the feelings of not being good enough prevent you from acting in ways that make you better. It’s also okay to take a break from it all and just be. Not every day has to be productive.
lament: to feel or express sorrow, regret, or disappointment about something
Believe in Yourself
What does it mean to be good enough? Good enough for what? When I look back on how far I’ve come, I can say that I’m better than I was before. Comparing ourselves to others is always a recipe for disaster. It’s a no-win situation.
no-win situation: a situation offering no favorable outcome, also a lose-lose situation
Compare yourself to yourself, and adjust accordingly.
accordingly: in a way that is appropriate to the particular circumstances
Remember, just because someone (including yourself!) believes you aren’t capable, doesn’t mean it’s true. It only becomes true when you allow it by repeatedly thinking the same thoughts over and over. Beliefs are not facts. When a belief is not working for you, you have the ability to change it.
While it takes a bit of work and a lot of practice to change your inner dialogue, it is possible. The results are well worth the time and effort.
Change Your Inner Dialogue
Once you identify a belief and corresponding thought, you can begin to change it. When we think that we are not good enough, we are in Judger mindset. We can change to a Learner mindset by changing the thoughts we think and the questions we ask.
For example, continuously thinking and saying, “I’m not good at English” creates actions and habits that prove the statement true. It has nothing at all to do with whether or not you are capable of being good at English. Most of my students are much better at English than they think they are. They simply lack confidence and experience.
If you find value in English, you can become good at it. And you can absolutely become better than you were before.
Start by believing that change is possible. Then change your inner dialogue. Stop limiting thoughts in their tracks.
to stop (dead) in (one’s) tracks: to stop someone or something completely and suddenly
Each time you catch yourself thinking, “I’m not good at English” change the words. Find a way to open thoughts up so that they are not limiting and restrictive.
Instead, say, “I can become good at English” or “I am getting better at English every week.” Whatever you change it to, make it positive and believable. If you change it to “I’m good at English” it won’t stick if you don’t really believe it. You’re too smart to fall for false statements.
stick: remain for a long time
fall for: to be tricked into believing something that is not true
If you can’t think of a statement that works, try a question.
Change Your Questions
Change your questions to ones that promote a Learner mindset. You can ask questions like, “What can I learn from this mistake?” What can I do to improve?” and “What is something I have learned?”
Change begins by evaluating your beliefs, improving the accuracy of your thoughts, and altering the words you use. From here, you can begin to take actions that support your beliefs and ultimately change your destiny.
Everyone is capable of learning and improving. You might get frustrated that change does not happen as quickly as you want it to, but by focusing on what is working and learning from what is not working, you move forward rather than remain stuck.
Be Kind to Yourself
One of the most helpful mantras I’ve created to help with my own limiting thoughts of not being good enough is:
These thoughts of kindness, which I value deeply, extend to my self and everyone I interact with. By repeating this mantra daily, I keep my actions in alignment with my values. I may not always succeed, but my goal is always to act with kindness.
A foundation of kindness makes it easier to silence the inner critic and move past the limitations of judgement.
Remember, beliefs are not facts. Stop limiting yourself. Start taking action. Create your own mantra or use mine. Ask questions that open you to possibilities and be sure your inner dialogue is helping your create the life you want.
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If you are looking for tips to increase your confidence, check out this related post by Shayna: How To Speak English Confidently! She also discusses mindset and gives more examples on changing negative thoughts to positive ones.
Never stop learning.