Recently I caught myself realising when I was having negative thoughts about myself. I became aware that I was aware of my unhelpful thoughts, because rather than mindlessly accepting them as truths, I questioned them with a “but why?” — why would I think this? And then I realised my irrational, unhelpful thoughts were from some past experience or experiences that had formed the basis of my beliefs and led me to repeatedly behave in certain ways, in turn reinforcing and perpetuating these beliefs, which in turn solidified these beliefs!
To change the results we can actually see in our lives, we need to change our beliefs and behaviours. The way we behave must match the beliefs we hold about the world and about ourselves—we behave in ways that we believe fit our image of self. So in order to change beliefs and therefore behaviour, we first must examine what our beliefs are in the first place. Becoming aware of your thoughts and beliefs requires effort and repetitive, deliberate practise. With diligent persistence, eventually, you will be aware of your thoughts automatically.
Often we don’t even realise what beliefs we have. I encourage you to delve and introspect, to explore the beliefs you hold. It can be quite eye-opening and surprising. A lot of self help books suggest that many of our limitations are related to our deep-seated, underlying beliefs of being unworthy and not being good enough. I agree with them because why else would we sabotage ourselves with criticism, which we so often do, rather than think of ourselves as our heros, treat ourselves with unconditional love and allow ourselves to have,do,be all the things we’ve dreamed of? It’s because we don’t love ourselves enough to believe in ourselves.
Next time you catch yourself having a negative thought about yourself, listen to the way you talk to yourself, and question that thought, challenge it with a “why?” or “why not me?” This will help you to overcome self-doubt and limitations. For example if you want to be more sociable but have a fear of speaking to people for fear of judgement, then most likely you have the belief that you are a shy, introverted person who is not worthy of other people’s time. This may seem extreme but this is likely the extreme version of your belief if you are limited in your social interactions.
Next time you have a thought which stops you from doing something — I challenge you, do the opposite of what you would do, behave in a way that would challenge the very belief you hold. This will strengthen the evidence against the limiting belief so that the more you do this, the more you will begin to shift your beliefs. Change starts with the belief you can change.