“The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.” – R.D. Laing
Read that quote again. Unnerving and beautiful at the same time, isn’t it?
(In this article, I refer to mindset as the habitual patterns of thinking, feeling, and responding.)
You are exactly who you tell yourself you are. From the moment you wake up, you move through the world based on the core beliefs that have been ingrained deep within the neural pathways of your brain over years’ time. Limiting core beliefs help you tell yourself lies; lies that make everything seem okay and lies that immobilize you from action. Lies that keep your nervous system calm but preserve all the things in your life that you currently don’t like, but always complain about, but do nothing or little about. And the lies continue…
Since you were born, you have heard messages that you’ve internalized and have been immersed in environments where people’s actions have communicated a certain mindset. This mindset has shaped your world. You do things according to what you believe in your mind to be true about yourself and the world. This is apparent in all areas of your life. If you believe that you are worthy of happiness, then you will seek out people and things that make you happy. If you believe that people are worthless and inherently flawed, you will place yourself in situations that perpetuate this mindset.
You have been and will always continue to create an external world that coincides with the one that exists in your mind. Keep this at the forefront as you think about your current personal, professional, and interpersonal successes in life.
Are you satisfied with where you are?
Are you fulfilled?
Are you taking action everyday towards a vision that you have created for yourself?
Are you self-sabotaging yourself?
If your answers are mostly “no,” then taking the time to explore your current mindset would greatly benefit you and offer answers that haven’t been apparent. Self-exploration and self-honesty will evoke confusing or uncomfortable feelings within you. The challenge of considering that your mindset and worldview has either helped or hindered your progress and success can be a sobering thought. And that’s okay. It’s true that this is, in no way, an easy task. But hey, I implore you not to be a kid-adult. I try to read at least 20 minutes of inspirational content each day from different books and some days I find something that’s just brilliant. I’ll share this with you here because it fits perfectly. This excerpt comes for Steve Chandler’s book, 17 Lies That Are Holding You Back and the Truth That Will Set You Free:
“Immanuel Kant said that enlightenment is a person’s emergence from ‘self-imposed immaturity.’ Self-imposed immaturity is when we deliberately lie to ourselves and become frightened children in the face of adult challenges, instead of becoming brave men and women who are simply challenged by the tasks ahead. We do this because it feels easier and more familiar to us. In truth it is far more difficult and is actually abnormal. If we only knew.”
Explore Your Mindset
Currently, you discard and minimize any information that does not correspond with the lens from which you view the world. This is how your brain and body save energy to take care of all the things you have to do every day. This means that you will have put effort into paying close attention to everything you discard and everything you don’t discard. The view you hold of yourself, others, and the world itself is made apparent by everything you do and don’t do. The most difficult thing here is that you don’t know what you don’t know, right? So, if you’re saying to yourself that this is “just the way you are” and this is how you’ve always done things or dealt with things or solved problems, all you’re actually doing is perpetuating your current mindset, thus perpetuating your limiting core beliefs whose roots are oh, so deep within you. Unfortunately, you also continue to preserve what you’re currently dissatisfied with in life. Every time you make an excuse for yourself and use the phrase, “that’s just the way I am,” you are 1) completely discarding the fact that you have the power to change; 2) actually condoning the behavior that is causing problems in your life; and 3) remaining stuck and allowing the problematic behavior to continue. You’re acting without an ounce of self-awareness and not taking responsibility for your life. You know… that kid-adult concept. You’re allowing yourself to be controlled by ingrained beliefs that, if you were to stop and actually pay attention, you would see that they are not serving you at all and are actually causing you pain and problems. So if your current situation does not reflect where you want to be in life, then you have the power to change it.
Holding two inconsistent ideas, beliefs, or views is very uncomfortable for the mind. The mind will get rid of or change one of these ideas, beliefs, or views in order to make them “fit.” This is the notion of cognitive dissonance. The mind’s job is to remain consistent. If your current mindset and core beliefs are perpetuating the reality that you do not want, then you must work to change your core beliefs and mindset. Because the mind will always align with what you tell it. If you tell yourself that you are unworthy or that you don’t have enough resources or time or that you will never be successful or wealthy because of x, y, z then that is exactly what is going to be manifested in your life. You will engage in behaviors that perpetuate this thinking and continue blaming and holding resentment towards the whole wide world while remaining in the same, exact place.
To change this, work on your mindset. Align your mind with what you actually want. Start thinking and envisioning what you want, instead of what you don’t want. Stop berating, degrading, or lowering yourself. Stop rehearsing a dire future. Start thinking about all the power and control you have. Start believing in your talents, your strengths, and your power. Start thinking about the future you want.
Re-Wire the Brain.
Exploring your thoughts, words, and actions will challenge you because you will work to re-wire your brain and the pathways that have formed over years’ time. The re-wiring will begin to happen with every response that is opposite or different than you’ve been doing up until now. It will take many repetitions, but over time you will begin to notice that you’re stopping yourself before saying or doing something that is self-sabotaging; that you’re reacting less impulsively and resolving problems more effectively; and that you’re engaging in different behaviors than before. Change in behavior equals change in mindset and vice versa.
Throughout this process you will confront yourself, be brutally honest with yourself, and commit yourself to the art of paying attention. By doing this, you will experience the immense power and control that you hold within. When you actually realize all the abundance, potential, and power you possess, you will feel astonished.
The first step is to start looking at your life as your own and to begin seeing and believing that everything that currently surrounds you is the product of your own creation. The good and the bad. If your brain is currently fighting against this statement, this is an insight into your core beliefs. Your core beliefs and mindset are married. They don’t separate and they don’t divorce. As you change your core beliefs, your mindset will shift, and vice versa. Core beliefs are so pervasive and intense because you have literally had the thoughts that accompany the beliefs millions of times. So if the above statement jarred something within you, it is an indication that it goes against some of your current core beliefs. If all this seems a bit elusive, don’t worry. Everything will make better sense as you begin to pay close attention to everything you think, say, and do.
This brings me back to what I wrote at the beginning – over years, your mind has been conditioned to believe certain things. From those beliefs, attitudes, and assumptions, you interpret and respond to every situation that you encounter. Your beliefs, memories, and consciousness live deep within your cells. The only way to gain an awareness of how these beliefs and attitudes have shaped your current reality is to pay close attention to your thoughts, words, and actions.
Begin paying attention to everything you think, say, or do. This is not as hard as it sounds. It’s actually pretty fun (okay… and kind of scary) at the same time, but it opens a window into your own self. A window like nothing else. I can tell you now that some thoughts will surprise you, scare you, excite you, but most of all, they will bond you with your own self. This is the best exercise in getting to know yourself. You will also notice that when you actually pay attention to your thoughts, at times you will automatically try to alter or change what and how you say or do something. This will not happen with all your thoughts initially, but once you realize how negative or destructive some thoughts are and the feelings and behaviors they evoke, you will want to change them.
How to Pay Attention
You pay attention by imagining that you are observing yourself – like there’s another you watching your thoughts, your conversations, and your actions. This will help you distance yourself from your limiting core beliefs and detach yourself from the experiences that evoke automatic negative thoughts and feelings, and thus unwanted behaviors. The point here is that you want to avoid engaging in automatic behaviors that have, for the longest time, been prompted by certain thoughts and feelings. And again, you’re doing this because you want to move away from behaviors and actions that are not serving you and are keeping you stuck and driving self-sabotage. If you don’t love where you are currently in life, your mindset and limiting core beliefs have a lot to do with it. The way to begin changing that and to start making progress is to become aware of the impact of your thoughts and feelings that drive your behaviors.
An essential part here is to remember that when you react impulsively or automatically, it is because you only see the things that align with your current mindset and core beliefs. Whether you know it or want to admit it, you disregard everything else that does not support your current core belief(s). This is where you mistake your mindset for reality and, if you’re not paying attention, will fall into the victim trap, mistakenly telling yourself that you have no other choices.
It all starts in your mind. You are who you tell yourself you are. And you will be who you tell yourself you will be. You will accomplish all that you tell yourself you will. You will only be as big and successful as you allow yourself to be.
Thanks for reading! Tell me below your strategies against self-sabotage.
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