Fiona dreams of wandering the world.
She’s sitting at her desk gazing out the window at the grey sky. Her lips tingle from the spicy Thai takeaway she had for lunch, as she imagines herself sitting on powdery white sand sipping a cocktail from a coconut.
Turning from the window she sighs thinks “maybe one day”, and starts tapping away at her keyboard not really believing “one day” will ever arrive.
Every day she looks at the world map on her wall and thinks “maybe next year”. She reads travel blogs, has seen Eat Pray Love five times and her email password is “see the world”.
But another year will pass and Fiona won’t have gone anywhere. She’ll still be staring out the window wondering when her luck will change.
So what’s the one thing stopping her from wandering the world?
She doesn’t believe she can.
You see Fiona believes travel, career breaks, seeing the world are what other people do.
People who have more money and better jobs.
People who are lucky.
People who are different to her.
But she’s got it wrong.
The difference between Fiona and people who travel is that they believe it’s possible. And because they believe, they don’t sit around dreaming, they take action and make it happen.
The truth is if you never believe it’s possible you’ll never make it happen.
That’s because our beliefs affect our actions. They also affect the way we behave and how we think about ourselves and the world around us.
When we have limiting or negative beliefs, we become trapped in self-defeating cycles that stop us achieving our dreams.
So what’s a belief and how does it stop me wandering the world?
Basically, a belief is an assumed truth.
They are automatic thoughts, perspectives and opinions we assume to be true.
When we have a reaction to something and make a decision about it, we’ll have a thought about it. If we think that thought a few times and believe it to be true it becomes a belief. It’s how we make sense of the world around us.
Beliefs are important because they’re the foundation upon which our actions and choices are based. They can be the difference between a life of joy and fulfilment or a life of misery.
The problem is once we’ve formed a belief we tend to stick with it.
Even if it doesn’t serve us.
If we have a negative or limiting belief, we can become stuck in a life that we don’t want. Not realising that the limitations we face are put there by ourselves.
Most of us have known someone who seems to have all the things necessary for a successful life. They’re intelligent, creative, funny, heck, they’re probably a really good person.
But their life sucks!
Every time an opportunity presents itself they find a reason not to take it. They can’t see how good it is because good things only happen to other people.
What you believe affects what you achieve – Bill Gates
It doesn’t have to be a conscious thing. In fact, most of us are unaware of our beliefs, as they can be buried deep in our subconscious.
So if Fiona has a subconscious belief that says “I don’t earn enough money to go wandering the world” then she’ll never take the time to work out a way to save money.
Whereas a positive or growth belief can catapult us into a life of thrilling adventures.
And who wouldn’t want that?
But don’t just take my word for it here’s a journal article by Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology (yes it’s a thing) researcher at the University of North Carolina.
It has some interesting insights about the impact that positive thinking has on our lives.
How to change those pesky beliefs
Here’s the good news. Our beliefs are not set in stone. In fact, we get to choose our beliefs and we can change them anytime we want.
It can be scary letting go of long-held beliefs. After all, they’re a part of who we are, a part of our identity. But, when we ditch those negative beliefs for more positive ones the results can be amazing!
There’s nothing more powerful than having the courage to change our beliefs.
Here are some ways to help you dump those limiting beliefs and get you out on the road!
Recognising you have negative beliefs: The first and most important step is recognising and accepting that your beliefs are holding you back. This can be a tough one because it means taking responsibility for your own life. No more excuses!
Observe your thought processes: Notice if you rush to conclusions. Don’t get caught up in unhelpful negative thoughts. The more you cling to them the more they’ll hold you back. Turn them around instead.
If you hear of someone going on a dream holiday and you think “Some people have all the luck” or “It must be nice to have money”. Stop it! Turn it into a positive. Think “How exciting! Isn’t it wonderful how people get to go on holiday?” and “I can’t wait until I go on my trip too, it’s going to be amazing!”
Stop the negative self-talk: The way we talk to ourselves affects the way we think about ourselves. If you tell yourself something often enough you’ll believe it to be true. What do you tell yourself? Do you say “I can make this happen” or “It’s just too hard I’m never going to go anywhere”?
Challenge your beliefs: What evidence do you base your beliefs on? Are they really true? For instance is it only rich people that travel? Or do some people take on extra work and save really hard? If you are able to prove to yourself that your beliefs are not true then it’s going to be hard to hold on to them.
Take action: You’re never going to get anywhere by staring out the window. Take action. Make a start. Do something. Even if you don’t fully believe it’s possible. Taking action makes us feel better and you’ll start believing that “Hey! This could really happen!”
Because you know what? It really can!
If you want to go wandering the world then start believing it’s possible. It’s how you’ll find the motivation to take the steps that make it happen.
Don’t be like Fiona.
She’s not going anywhere.
What do you think? Do agree it all starts with our beliefs? Let us know in the comments below.
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