Change is tough, but it’s entirely possible — in fact, human beings are designed to adapt when necessary. That said, it isn’t always easy.
Our internal dialogue and beliefs often prove to be the biggest hurdles when it comes to actually changing. So, what is a belief exactly? And, how can you “trick” your brain into creating positive changes in your life? In this article, we’re going to answer these questions and more to help you take a few steps forward to becoming a better version of you!
What is a Belief?
Our beliefs help us make sense of the world. Undeniably, the world is very complex. Thus, our brain works to simplify things. Beliefs offer shortcuts regarding our understanding and help us predict our external environment.
Beliefs also help us understand how things relate to one another, offering a “template” for learning and interpretation. All of this saves energy and time when we interact with our environment.
Our beliefs further fill in the “gaps.” They frequently include assumptions made from incomplete information or knowledge. This is primarily what differentiates beliefs from facts and also offers a pathway to alter our beliefs, potentially leading toward positive changes in our life.
How You Can Make Positive Changes in Your Life
In a 2016 study, researchers suggested that individuals who believed they could change their personality traits were more likely to make changes that aligned with their desires. They did so by altering their personality traits to match their goals. In other words, beliefs can be a powerful vehicle to change ourselves and our behaviours.
So, how can you change your beliefs? Here are a few ways.
Self-affirmations involve repeating positive statements about yourself. Some examples include “I am worthy of a healthy body,” “I am enough,” or “I deserve to feel good.” The key is to repeat them to your mind again and again. This may mean turning to them and repeating them a few times a day or sitting down and saying them out loud five to ten times.
This helps improve self-worth and may allow an inpidual to move beyond any threats or self-doubt regarding self-competence or ability. A study published in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience further indicates that self-affirmations can improve self-worth and drastically change our future orientation and behaviours. Plus, this is something really simple that only takes a couple of minutes (if that) each day.
Research shows the powers of “mental contrasting,” where a person visualizes their ideal outcome as well as the obstacles that they may need to overcome. It was shown that this method could result in effective problem-solving, which may drive behavioural change.
Many more studies examine the effects of visualization. In fact, many athletes use visualization to help them achieve great sporting and athletic feats. By visualizing the change you want to make or the positive outcome, you are more likely to achieve it.
Use “Temptation Bundling”
“Temptation building” refers to pairing an enjoyable activity with a less enjoyable activity or delaying the enjoyable activity until the less enjoyable activity is completed. For instance, maybe you’re really enjoying that new page-turner! You could use temptation bundling to help you go exercise before you allow yourself to read another chapter of your book.
Another example of using this method is by pairing exercise with watching your favourite reality show. There are many ways to do this! The key is finding what works for you.
Reframe and Challenge Your Beliefs
Cognitive reframing involves challenging your negative belief and replacing it with a more positive one. This can lead to improved mood and reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression.
For example, if you have a belief that’s preventing you from making a positive change, what would be the complete opposite of that? From there, you can find a middle ground that is often more realistic and apply that to the situation. Remember, your beliefs aren’t always facts; we make them based on our own assumptions and interpretations.
Identify What You Can Control
When times are tough or you’re trying to make a drastic change in your life, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. We might worry about what others would think of us. We might also worry about how others may act toward us. You aren’t alone; these are very common thoughts and fears.
Luckily, we don’t have to pay attention to them. Focusing on what we can control is a much more constructive way to use our energy and time. It can also help us feel empowered. For example, instead of worrying about what others might think of you at the gym, focus on getting that technique down or learning how to use each machine properly. These are things you can control.
Set Realistic Goals
A problem that often arises regarding our beliefs is when our expectations don’t match the outcomes. This frequently occurs when setting goals for ourselves, which then leads us to not achieve those goals. Thus, it’s important to be realistic when looking toward what we want to change and in what timeframe.
When setting goals, try using the S.M.A.R.T. acronym, which stands for making goals specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-oriented. And remember, little steps lead to big changes down the road! It can help to break big goals down into smaller ones, making everything that much more manageable. Don’t forget to celebrate every win along the way!
A growth mindset involves believing that you can acquire a skill, or ability, or learn something new through hard work and dedication. Embracing this mindset can help you find opportunities to grow and change, as well as become inspired to continue to foster your own personal growth.
Remember, everyone starts somewhere! We are all beginners at one point or another. Yet, with time and effort, most skills can be acquired.
Seek Out Support
Making a change alone can prove challenging. Recruiting your family or friends to help you change can make things a little easier. They can offer their support or even team up with you to make similar changes. Talk with your family and friends. Determine if they want to join you or are open to supporting you. Alternatively, you can also seek out a therapist for emotional support and professional advice.
At Bhatia Psychology Group, we are here for you and can support you as you strive to change your life. Together, we can determine what works for you, helping you overcome your limiting beliefs, and live the life you deserve! Contact us today to learn more.