What do you think about yourself? No, really. Who do you think you are?
Because whatever you believe about yourself is absolutely true. If you believe you are fabulous, clever and interesting, you’re right! If you believe you are worthless, stupid and not good enough then you are also right.
What you focus on expands and whatever your belief, you constantly look for evidence to prove to yourself that your belief is true.
I used to believe I was an awful writer. I was working 16 hours a day as a journalist, saying ‘yes’ to every task and assignment. My coach asked me – “what motivated me to work so hard and such long hours?’ Without missing a beat, I replied: “I’m a terrible writer and I’ve got to work very hard and over-deliver or they’ll find out I’m no good.” “Is that really true?” asked my coach. “Where’s the evidence?” “Er…..” I couldn’t think of any evidence but I just knew it to be true. She asked me to create a physical ‘wall of evidence’ that I was a good writer – to find a wall in my house and stick up the articles that I had written – all of them.
So I did – one by one. There were four page spreads in the Daily Mail, lead features in the Marie Claire, the Sunday Times, the Express, the Mirror etc etc. When I was finished, practically the whole wall was covered. “If you weren’t any good at writing, why would these national newspapers and magazines be hiring you, not once but over and over again?” asked my coach.
Good question. I literally felt something shift. ‘Maybe I am quite good,’ I thought. Over a few weeks, I felt my confidence begin to shift and I started to be able to say no to the jobs I didn’t want to do, to ask for more money and eventually to apply for the job of health editor of New Woman, which was ‘magazine of the year’ that year. And they accepted me. I then went to be health editor of OK! magazine. That small shift- caused by questioning my old thoughts with a new body of evidence – created more peace and self confidence in my life and more success.
Identifying negative beliefs and creating a wall of evidence to support a new positive belief is one of the most life changing exercises I do with my clients. It’s not just commonsense – it’s also scientifically proven that when we change our thought processes, we literally grow a blossoming new network of neurons and connections in our brains – and the old networks wither and die.
Try this exercise in two parts. Part one helps you identify some of the negative beliefs you may have hanging around and part two will help you construct a concrete evidence wall for a new positive belief you want to create in your life.
Part 1: Identify your beliefs:
What decision did you have to make to survive and thrive in your family?
What happens to people like you?
What will people say about you when you are dead?
What negative feeling do you feel most often?
When you get this feeling, what do you believe about yourself?
When you get this feeling, what do you believe about life?
What would you have to believe about yourself to have a career like yours?
What would you have to believe to have a relationship history like yours?
What would you have to believe about yourself to have a circle of friends like yours?
What would you have to believe about yourself or life, for things to exactly as they are right now?
Part 2: Create your own evidence wall.
Identify a new belief that will improve your life. Don’t worry if your brain grinds to a halt. You are literally creating a new ‘thought pathway’ in your brain, and usually the old belief has a neural groove that is well worn, so this is not easy at first.
Now ask yourself: What ten pieces of evidence can you find that this new belief is true?
For example, if the belief you want to implant is ‘I can handle everything that life throws at me’ your evidence might include: “I’m not dead yet! I haven’t collapsed in a heap; I’m actually quite good in a crisis” (state example) etc.
You can either create a physical ‘evidence wall’ like I did – stick up pictures, statements, photographs on a wall, which prove that new belief, are true.
Or just start creating a list in a notepad. If after ten pieces of evidence your list looks skimpy or the walls looks a bit bare, start looking for five ways every day to prove that this new belief is true. What you focus on expands. The more you look for something, the more you will find it, and the more your wall of evidence will grow.
From working with clients, I’ve discovered that, at around the 50 pieces of evidence mark, an old belief starts to crumble round the edges (you may feel resistance at this point). Keep going until you reach the magic 100 and the old belief will disintegrate altogether.
Have fun and watch out this life changing exercise changes your life!
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