7 Highly Effective Steps to Change Any Belief
Have you ever tried to change a pattern or behavior in your life and no matter what you tried it just wouldn’t stick?
Have you ever thought, “It shouldn’t be this hard!”
Well. You’re right. And it doesn’t have to be as long as you know how…
Today the Both Now Team is going to show you a very effective strategy for changing any pattern that you’re stuck in.
Because...if you change your beliefs - you change your life!
Keep reading because we've got you covered with a step-by-step proven formula.
Let’s get into the good stuff!
- Important Concepts
- Step 1: Understand How Beliefs Affect Your Life
- Step 2: Become Willing To BELIEVE That Beliefs Can Change
- Step 3: Understand How Beliefs Are Formed
- Step 4: Understand Why Beliefs Hold Power Over You
- Step 5: Identify The Belief You'd Like To Change
- Step 6: Examine The Impact That Belief Is Having On Your Life
- Step 7: Determine A Good Replacement For The Belief
Let’s start by making sure we’re on the same page.
If you’ve heard the Both Now Team discuss beliefs before, feel free to skip ahead a bit.
But otherwise take a quick peek below because it will help you approach the process for changing any belief.
A Better Working Definition of Belief
Dictionary definitions aside, psychologists struggle to simply define what a belief is.
So, for our purposes…
The Both Now Team considers a belief to be any powerful thought or opinion you have about yourself or the world around you.
In fact, you often simply “know” that your beliefs are true – whether you can prove them or not!
Now that you have a working definition of what a belief is, let’s dive right into how you can change any belief you have (and why you’d even want to).
Understand How Beliefs Affect Your Life
Because we humans, more often than not, just “know” that our beliefs are true...
even when they often aren’t
...beliefs have a huge impact on how we interact with people and the world around us.
A quick note from Brad...
Seriously! Just think of how you react when someone challenges you on something you’re really sure about.
See if you can relate to this.
You’re in a discussion with a close friend and things get a little tense.
Smart phones are pulled out of pockets…google searches are entered...and your friend proves you wrong.
Has that ever happened to you? It has to me.
Maybe you mumble that you were wrong. Maybe you make an excuse or two.
Later when no one’s looking you check the information again.
And maybe if your friend showed you some compelling information from a source you trust – maybe you even changed your mind. I can’t be the only one this has happened to… 😊
Beliefs affect the habits and behaviors that make up your life and also the results you get (or don’t get).
So, what exactly do we mean by that?
The Bias in Our Beliefs
It turns out that people are usually quite biased about what they believe.
They tend to have certain beliefs about things, accept these beliefs as “true” without much proof, and then filter out day-to-day experiences and data that differ from the beliefs they hold.
That’s quite something when you think about it!
Here’s an example:
Each of us has a belief about the earth; we all “know” what the world looks like.
It’s just exactly like the maps we learned from in school.
Well…depending on when you grew up, the map you saw in school would have looked a little different.
But, if you were in elementary school any time between, say…1569 and 2005 😊, the map you learned probably looked something like this:
How Wrong Can Our Beliefs Be About A Map?!
But (as you may have learned from the TV show, The West Wing), it turns out that it’s not that simple to represent the 3-dimensional world on a 2-dimensional map.
You need to make a bunch of assumptions and choices about how things are transferred to the flat piece of paper.
If you’re interested, there’s a great article on the subject at Discovery Magazine that explains it a lot better than we can.
Turns Out Our Beliefs Can Be Quite Wrong...
It turns out, that the map that we all “know” to be true is quite inaccurate and quite biased.
Here are two different versions of the world that are more accurate, but in truth, there are no perfectly accurate maps because they all distort latitude and longitude and the relative size of the land masses and oceans.
Facts to Challenge Your Beliefs...
Considering that we were taught at an early age using a version of the first map, most of us go around thinking that:
- North America is bigger than Africa (It is not! Seriously, Africa is huge…it’s bigger than Canada, the USA, and China put together!)
- The UK is around the same size as Madagascar (it’s actually only about ½ the size!)
- Greenland is bigger than Australia (in fact Greenland is less than 1/3 the size of Australia!)
This might be shocking to you, but we convince ourselves about things like this all the time. Don’t get us started on what’s wrong with globes! 😂
A quick note from Paula...
Okay here’s another quick example of how often we’re changing out beliefs.
Not that long ago, I learned that it’s a myth that goldfish have a 3 second memory.
Turns out scientists are saying it’s more like 5 months!
Don’t believe me…here's the link.
Don’t look now…did you just change a belief?!
Because beliefs impact how you interact with the world around you, that means that beliefs affect outcomes in both your life and your career.
Hey! There's a free workbook with this post!
Who wants to take notes?! Wouldn't you like a step-by-step guide that walks you through changing any belief?
We’ve got you covered, grab The Beliefs Workbook right now to become a belief changing machine!
Become Willing to BELIEVE That Beliefs Can Change
Alright. So let’s use the map example above to explore this.
What do you believe about the map of the world you have in your head now?
Unless you’ve heard this before, you might be reeling a bit with this new information.
Perhaps you’re even a bit skeptical?
But if you do a bit of your own research on the topic you’ll see we’re not making this stuff up! The world map you “knew” to be true as a kid has a lot of issues with it.
You Have a Choice...
So, what are you coming to believe about your perception of the world now?
Even if you have seen similar information on world maps before, the result we’re interested in focusing on right now is the same.
At some point you absolutely knew without a doubt that the map of the world was accurate and now you’re either certain that it’s not a very good representation or you’re at least on your way to believing that it’s not as accurate as you once thought.
Don’t look now…
You’re changing a belief!
You Absolutely Can Change Your Beliefs
That’s it. That’s step 2.
You need to become willing to believe that your beliefs are much, much more flexible than you ever thought they were.
If we can’t convince you of that, don’t bother reading any further.
Why would you go about trying to change a belief if you think they’re impossible to change 😉
But the truth is, you change your beliefs all the time.
There is no way that you believe everything today that you did when you were 5, or 10, or 16-years-old.
A quick note from Hailey...
We all have examples of silly things we believed as children.
Here are a couple of mine:
1. I used to believe that plaque made your teeth feel smooth. As a result, I hated that slimy feeling. I still brushed my teeth twice a day but just never made the connection that my teeth felt smooth after I brushed them.
2. I used to believe that it wasn’t rude to chew gum with your mouth open. I knew it was rude to chew food with your mouth open but I honestly believed there was a special rule for gum.
If I couldn’t change my beliefs I’d be stuck believing these things!
And they probably would have led to some pretty awkward social interactions…
Even scientists are changing their minds all the time.
Things they “knew” to be absolutely true 200, 100, even 20 years ago have been disproved and are now often laughable.
And if scientists can change their mind, surely, we all can!
But all this is honestly fantastic news, because as we said earlier, your beliefs directly affect the outcomes in every area of your life and career.
So that means that if you change your beliefs, you can change your life and your career.
That is some pretty exciting stuff!
Understand How Beliefs Are Formed
How you form beliefs is quite a simple process.
But knowing how beliefs are formed can be a very helpful thing to understand when you are trying to change them.
Okay. Here we go.
You Constantly Form and Examine Your Beliefs
Your beliefs enter your consciousness through experience.
As you go about your day-to-day life you experience things, take in information, and you form beliefs.
Once a belief enters your consciousness, you examine that belief and weigh it against all your past (and eventually future) experiences and you either accept that belief as true or you reject it.
Then, individual beliefs work together to form your larger belief system.
You adopt many of your beliefs from those around you. Especially people you hold in high regard.
Beliefs Often Come From Those You Trust
As you can imagine, that means that you formed many, many beliefs during your childhood and the majority of those beliefs came from your parents, extended family members, caregivers, and teachers.
The more highly you think of a person, the quicker you accept things they tell you as “fact” or “truth.”
Which also means it’s easier for you to adopt these ideas as you own beliefs.
A Couple of Examples About Beliefs
If your parents told you that Santa Claus was real and then reinforced this belief by eating the cookies your left out or making presents “magically” arrive overnight, you likely adopted this belief quite easily.
If your older cousins or kids at school told you Santa wasn’t real, you likely had to hear this news a couple of time before believing it.
Or maybe you asked your parents if these terrible rumours were true.
Or here's another example...
If your third grade teacher, who you adored, continually told you that you were the best drawer in the class...
there is a high degree of likelihood you enjoyed drawing more and worked diligently on your drawing skills...
which of course made you better at drawing and cemented that belief for you.
A quick note from Paula...
Childhood beliefs aren’t always traced back this easily to an adult who told you they were true.
Sometimes we adopt childhood beliefs from watching behaviours, or overhearing conversations between adults, or other more subtle ways.
Lots of beliefs we have as children get changed and morphed and replaced as we learn and grow.
But…many stay with us, both good and bad, and affect us into our adult lives.
As we said, forming new beliefs is a fairly simple process.
Changing beliefs can be a bit trickier, but once you understand how beliefs hold power over you it becomes much easier.
Understand Why Beliefs Hold Power Over You
There is simply too much information in the world for you to process.
We’re sure we don’t have to try very hard to convince you of that.
So, in order to make sense of the world around you, your brain creates beliefs and systems of beliefs called schemas.
What's a Schema?
Schema is just a fancy word for framework.
Here’s an example of how a schema works.
Let’s say a young child grows up with several kinds of dogs living with them. The child begins to make a mental map that goes something like this. Dogs have fur, four legs, pointy ears, and a tail.
Now, the first time that young child sees a cat, it is likely that they will call that cat a dog.
That's a schema at work.
You Constantly Adapt Beliefs and Schemas
In this case, the child’s schema of a dog is not a perfect representation of what every single dog looks like in the entire world. It is a short-cut about what dogs roughly look like based on that child’s experiences.
Obviously, the more cats the child sees will help them build a schema about cats and they will know that cats and dogs are different.
As the child ages, many other factors will be added to both schemas so that they will be less and less likely to mistake a cat for a dog.
You are adapting your beliefs and schemas all the time.
A Little Thing Called Confirmation Bias...
Once you have a firm belief, you start to filter out information that contradicts that belief.
This is another short-cut we all use so we can make sense of an otherwise overwhelming amount of information.
And that filter – the one you use to ignore things that don’t support your beliefs and pay more attention to those things that do – is called confirmation bias.
So, we are all biased to confirm what we already believe.
Change What You Believe - Change Your Results
You believe what you believe. Some of those beliefs are so strong that you are unwilling to change them. You simply “know” that they are “true”.
And that means that you perceive the world in a certain way.
And because you behave in accordance with your system of beliefs, it makes the reinforcement of your beliefs even stronger.
Beliefs change how you see the world around you. Beliefs affect the outcomes that you get in both your life and your career.
And if you change your beliefs, you change your results.
Let’s repeat that one more time.
If you change your beliefs – you change your results in your life and your career!
That’s what the next step is all about.
Remember the free workbook!
Wouldn't it be great to be led step-by-step through changing any belief?
Well, that's exactly why we created The Beliefs Workbook, AND it's yours for free!
Identify the Belief You'd Like to Change
Now we’ll show you how to change any belief you currently hold.
Don’t underestimate how important the first 4 Steps are in this process.
You need to understand that beliefs shape your life and your career and you need to believe that beliefs can change.
Sounds too simple to even say it, but it’s absolutely true. If you don’t believe it’s possible to change, you won’t.
Once you believe it’s possible to change, you need to be aware of the belief that’s holding you back.
And that takes a degree of self awareness...
Find the Beliefs You'd Like to Change
Here’s a quick list of some other things you can do to become more aware of beliefs you’d like to change:
- Keep a daily journal
- Do a mental review of your day each evening and think about what things could have gone better. Maybe you owe someone an apology. Maybe you left some things undone or unsaid that you shouldn’t have. Maybe you said no to an opportunity because you didn’t believe you were capable.
- Set a timer and do some journaling on the topic “What three things would I like to change most right now”, or “What are the top three negative patterns I keep repeating and why?”
- Ask a trusted friend, family member, or advisor for trends that they observe in your behavior that they believe would be helpful for you to improve. Please make sure that you only do this with someone you really trust and only if you’re ready for some feedback. If you’re not ready, or you don’t trust someone to give you this, don’t ask in the first place!
A quick note from Hailey...
Another thing you can try that works really well for me is to get good at asking yourself some questions, like:
- Is there something in my life or career that I’d like to change?
- Would I get the same outcome in this area of my life, if I changed how I thought about it?
- Is there something in my thinking that’s keeping me stuck in this area of my life?
These tools, along with the post on 7 Proven Tips to Boost Accountability, are intended to do three things.
- make you more self aware.
- help you start seeing trends in your life and career that you want to change.
- help you identify the beliefs that are reinforcing your behaviours and keeping you stuck.
An Example from Brad...
I’m going to walk you through this with a simple personal example so you can see these last three steps in action. Okay…here we go.
In my 20s and 30s I was goal-driven to a fault. It’s been a long journey for me, but over the last decade, I’ve made a lot of progress trusting more, enjoying the journey and not just the destination, and becoming more accepting of outcomes that differ from what I originally ‘intended’.
Recently, through some self reflection, I realized that I was spending more time than I’d like watching TV, watching movies, and playing video games and that I had really let my other hobbies slip.
Specifically, I was rarely playing music or painting anymore. Over the last year and a half, those things slipped from a few times a week, to a few times a month, to ‘it’s been months since I did that’.
Once I became aware that I wanted to spend more time revitalizing those hobbies in my life, I used steps 5, 6, and 7 of this process to make a significant change in this area of my life.
And best of all, once I got my beliefs figured out and changed, it happened without much effort at all.
Using the methods of self-reflection, we outlined above, I was able to determine that I had two current beliefs about my hobbies that were stopping me from picking up my guitar and my paintbrush.
- I had convinced myself that it was just too much trouble getting everything set up again. My guitars were packed away in the closet and I had forgotten how to use the digital paint program that I had enjoyed playing with about a year ago.
- I believed that if I couldn’t eventually do these things professionally (i.e. for money) they weren’t worth doing at all! Wow, some hobby! 😊
I’ll pop back in and touch on this example as we take you through steps 6 and 7 of the process.
Be Easy On Yourself - It's a Process
If you’re new to this, please don’t get discouraged. Self reflection, like everything else, gets easier with practice.
Journal, ask for feedback from those you trust, and look back over the last 24 hours on a regular basis until you’re able to do this much more naturally throughout the day.
If you’re open-minded and willing, areas of potential improvement, and negative patterns will start popping up!
And remember, you don’t have to fix everything at once. If you ever find yourself getting overwhelmed with this process, remember that you can manage these types of changes easier if you take them one at a time. The goal is progress not perfection.
Alright. That’s it for step 5.
Examine the Impact That Belief is Having on Your Life
So let’s say you’ve identified something in your life or career that you would like to change.
And you know the specific belief (if there are multiple, work through one at a time) that is keeping you stuck.
Now dig a bit deeper to determine all the impacts your current belief is having on your life and career.
Some Good Questions About Beliefs
Start by asking yourself some questions:
- What does this belief encourage me to do?
- What does this belief stop me from doing?
- How does this belief stop me from moving forward or getting what I want?
- What negative outcomes does this belief produce in my life?
An Example from Brad...
I’m sure it’s no surprise that holding the belief that ‘it was just too much trouble to setup my guitar and digital paint program’ was directly contributing to me ignoring my hobbies.
As trivial as that belief sounds, each time I’d think about starting either of those hobbies again the first thing that would pop into my head was, ‘It’s gonna take a bunch of time to get all the gear out and working again…maybe later.’
And here’s the thing, I really enjoy my hobbies. They are a great stress reliever for me, and they bring me a lot of joy.
So, what was this belief encouraging me to do?
This belief was not encouraging me to get positive outcomes and it was stopping me from what I wanted – to get stress relief and joy out of actively engaging in my hobbies.
I also had a second belief that was more complex and took a bit more work for me to figure out. As silly as it may sound, I had an old, lingering belief that hobbies were only worth pursuing if they could eventually be turned into a professional venture at some point.
A number of times in my life, I have turned hobbies into side hustles and then into businesses and new career opportunities. And my old belief served me well when I was at a point in my life when I wanted to turn hobbies into businesses.
Now I don’t actually want to be a professional painter or musician. I have thought long about what those activities mean to me and they are much more valuable to me if they’re a form of play and pure enjoyment.
I don’t actually want to work at either of them hard enough to be a professional. Nor do I want to spend the time required to promote myself as a professional in either of those hobbies.
And yet here was this old belief I didn’t realize I even had anymore stopping me from enjoying a very healthy set of hobbies.
Whenever I had a thought of getting my equipment set up again, those two beliefs kept me stuck.
‘It’ll take too long to get started’, and ‘Why bother, I’ll never be good enough to be a pro anyways’ were the one-two-punch that kept me reaching for the TV remote instead of doing a couple of activities I really enjoy. I’ll touch back one more time in step 7 below and share with you how I shifted these two beliefs so I could get back to music and painting!
Once you have confirmed all the negative impacts your current belief is having on you, it’s time to replace that belief so you can start getting the results you want in your life and career!
Determine a Good Replacement for the Belief
Time for one more question.
Ask yourself, “What new belief or beliefs will support me in getting what I want?”
Very often, a belief or two that are the exact opposite from the one that you’re replacing will do.
So that means that...
“I’m not worthy of what I want in my life and career” might become “I deserve what I want” or “I am worthy”
“Only weak people ask for help” might become “It is actually an act of strength when I ask others for help” or “I am stronger when I can admit that I need help sometimes”
Reinforce Your New Belief
Once you have a good replacement for your old belief, it’s time to look for opportunities to reinforce your new beliefs whenever you can.
This can be as simple as repeating the new belief to yourself on a regular basis.
Also keep an eye out for times when your old belief pops back up. When this happens, practice taking a moment to remind yourself of your new belief several times.
There are other methods to support implanting the new beliefs like closing your eyes or getting in a mindset of gratitude while you’re saying your new beliefs to yourself.
Or, you might try saying them to yourself during your exercise routine. Or writing them down in a journal or posting them somewhere you’ll see them regularly (on your bathroom mirror or your computer monitor).
The Power of Being Subtle...
Brute force may not work. And so, for a time you may need to say something a bit more subtle to yourself like the following:
“You know, I used to believe that I had very few options in my life, but now that I see that there are many, many ways to solve every problem, I’m excited about the new opportunities in my personal and professional life.”
Alright. Back to Brad’s example one last time.
An Example from Brad...
So how does my example end? The good news is that once I saw what was stopping me from enjoying my hobbies, it didn’t take me long at all to start them up again.
I turned the excuse, ‘it’s going to take a bunch of time to set everything back up’ into ‘motivation comes from starting and I really miss music and painting!’
I set my hobbies back up that day. I just walked to the closet, dragged everything out, and set it up!
Now that the gear was staring me in the face whenever I went into that room, I just kept repeating a simple sentence to myself that gave me permission to enjoy my hobbies. ‘Not every hobby has to be transformed into a business. I love playing music and painting just for the joy of it. No expectations, no regrets!’
And I’ve been painting and playing music again ever since. And the days that those old beliefs creep back in…I have a set of tools to shift them back to the ones that make life enjoyable instead of stuck.
Get your free workbook!
Want some more help identifying and changing any belief right now?
Click here to get immediate access to your free Beliefs Workbook. Includes a step-by-step process with examples and tips you can implement right now!
Understanding what beliefs are holding you back and making a conscious effort to change them is one of the most powerful tools to change the results you’re getting in your life and your career,
As you gain and apply this new awareness about yourself, please ensure you don’t use it to beat yourself up.
Being hard on yourself won’t help! Be nice to yourself through this process.
Beating yourself up over something you didn’t know yet is like expecting your friends to come to a party you never invited them to. You wouldn’t blame them, so why would you blame yourself.
Understanding your underlying beliefs is not about harshly judging yourself. It’s about better understanding yourself and making better, more conscious choices.
Now we’d like to hear from you:
What’s your number one learning from today’s post?
Are you ready to start applying this process to the beliefs you hold in your life and career?
Let us know by leaving a comment below right now.