Continuing the theme on flexibility in your beliefs giving you freedom, contributing to your intelligence, and attracting people, I’ll continue about ways to increase that flexibility.
Yesterday covered using a prevalent ad campaign to help develop non-judgmental acceptance of other people’s beliefs and changing your own. By the way, by accepting other people’s beliefs, I don’t mean necessarily agreeing with them, just accepting that they have them and understanding them. The day before used changing your physical perspective to change your mental perspective.
Today I’ll give a couple cases where you routinely change your beliefs 180 degrees in a matter of seconds. The more you recognize you already change your beliefs to such a wide degree without thinking about it consciously, the more you’ll be able to change them when you want to consciously.
First, I’ll reinforce why I find this skill so important to develop. Here’s a typical context. Someone wants to do something new — maybe dress differently, switch jobs, learn a new skill, etc. He or she thinks, “But I’m not that kind of person.” He or she knows the change will improve his or her life, but doesn’t implement it. He or she is too fixed in his or her beliefs about him or herself.
Beliefs are your own. Whatever beliefs you have, you are the only one who determines which ones you have and act on. More to our point, you have every ability to change them.
Your beliefs about how fixed your beliefs are are the only thing keeping them. Believing you can change a belief is the first step to changing it and leads to all the above advantages of flexibility of your beliefs. Likewise, the more you believe you can’t change your beliefs, the more you confine yourself mentally. When that concept resonates — that you create your own mental jails with your beliefs — you might find yourself preferring a physical jail to a mental jail if you had to choose. At least in a physical jail, you can let your mind run free.
Anyway, practicing changing beliefs enables changing beliefs. Seeing you already change beliefs all the time helps lower barriers to changing other times. You can turn everyday behavior into practice for life challenges.
Here are two examples where you change beliefs regularly 180 degrees.
Case 1: you wake up late on a cold morning. You’ll barely have time to make it to a meeting on time. You know you’ll have to do your morning routine as fast as possible. Before you step into your shower, you tell yourself you’ll spend no more than three minutes in it. You’re afraid you’ll look bad, worried about being late.
Then you step into the hot shower, out of the cold apartment air. Suddenly the fear and worries about the future dissipate. You aren’t in a hurry. You suddenly become confident if you stay a bit longer than three minutes you’ll be okay. You remember many other times you enjoyed a shower longer and things worked out, didn’t they? You become comfortable and unhurried. You believe you’ll be alright if you stay longer.
Amazing how your beliefs change when you get in that hot shower on that cold day?
Case 2: you plan on waking up early to go to the gym and set your alarm for earlier than usual. As you fall asleep, you believe you will wake up, jump out of bed, and exercise. Tomorrow will be the best workout you’ve had in a while.
The next morning the alarm goes off. It’s hard to open your eyes, let alone get out of bed. Suddenly your beliefs are that it’s okay to sleep in this one time.
Recap: These are modest changes. They last a few minutes. But they show you can change your beliefs about yourself easily in some situations. To change them in others is qualitatively similar, only quantitatively different.
Next time you believe you can’t do something or be someone you want, think about how you change beliefs about yourself all the time. At first you might think the shower and getting-out-of-the-bed-in-the-morning changes don’t count because the situation is too different. Eventually you’ll realize in one aspect — the one that matters here — the relevant context is your emotional and mental perception, which is independent of material circumstances.
And next time you take a hot shower on a cold day or decide to sleep in, recognize the value of the skill you’re practicing and think of how you’ll use it later to accomplish goals you want to.
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book