This is part of our Rich Habits series, by best-selling author Tom Corley. Be sure to check out all previous habits we’ve covered!
Why do the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? Why does poverty perpetuate itself from one generation to the next? The answer is our beliefs. Our beliefs can either create wealth or create poverty. If we believe we are smart, we are right. If we believe we are dumb, we are right. If we believe life is our oyster, we are right. If we believe life is a struggle, we are right.
What We Believe Determines Who We Become
Our beliefs are stored deep in our old brain, also known as the subconscious mind. Our old brain differs dramatically from our new brain (also known as our conscious mind) and has been around for millions of years, whereas our new brain has only been around for a few hundred thousand years. Our old brain is immeasurably more powerful than our new brain. It is the only part of the brain that can actually multitask. Simultaneously, it controls our autonomic system, directs our behavior and stores our habits. It is where our emotions reside and warehouses our beliefs. Beliefs represent emotionalized thought programming our old brain has accepted. If we want to change our circumstances in life we need to start by changing our beliefs. In order to do that we need to create positive emotionalized thoughts and avoid negative emotionalized thoughts. Each one of us has inherited from our parents, environment, and our upbringing certain beliefs that direct our behavior, thinking, emotions and the choices we make in life. When these beliefs close our mind to new ideas, new knowledge and new ways of thinking, they hold us back in life. They inhibit our ability to grow as individuals. One way to tell if our beliefs are preventing us from growing as individuals is our reaction to new information or new discoveries. If our knee-jerk reaction is to immediately dismiss any new information as bogus then we have a closed-minded, limiting, negative belief. One of the hallmarks of successful people is their ability to be open-minded to new ideas, new knowledge and new ways of thinking. They are able to cast aside their limiting, negative beliefs and expand their thinking, to grow and to evolve. Unsuccessful people have limiting, negative beliefs that hold them back in life. These beliefs are like stop signs, preventing them from pursuing anything that their beliefs tell them are not possible. Our daily habits mirror our beliefs. “I’m not smart” forges the habits of not studying, not listening and not focusing. “I can’t lose weight” forges the habits of eating too much, eating poorly and not exercising.
How Beliefs are Formed
A belief is formed in two ways:
- Through repetitive programming that may be internal – our thoughts – or external – repetitive statements made by influence relationships such as our parents, teachers, friends, family, etc.
- Through life events that were anchored to strong negative emotions (disappointment caused by a failure event) or strong positive emotions (happiness caused by a success event).
The early part of everyone’s life is fraught with mistakes and failure events: we engage in new activities and make mistakes or fail at an activity. These mistakes and failures are life’s way of telling us we are doing something wrong. They are not intended to negatively affect the rest of our lives. They are intended to positively affect the rest of our lives by teaching us what not to do. Unfortunately, the people around us, our parents, friends, teachers, etc., unintentionally resort to destructive criticism that affects most of us for the rest of our lives. This criticism sticks because it is tied to negative emotions. Once a negative emotion is coupled with a destructive criticism, it becomes a limiting belief. Parents, teachers, company managers and anyone in the position of authority have the capacity to eliminate the limiting beliefs and bad habits of their children, students and employees. We all need to positively inspire everyone we are in a position to influence in our lives. One person can change the entire life of another person by simply giving them a new belief to believe in, which will, in turn, rid them of their corresponding bad daily habits forever. Here are some limiting beliefs that could be holding you back in life:
- Poor people can’t become rich
- Rich people have good luck and poor people have bad luck
- I am not smart
- Everyone thinks I’m ugly
- I never have enough money
- I can’t do anything right – everything I try I fail at
- People don’t like me
- I’m disorganized and have no discipline
- I’m not good at (fill in the blank): school, cooking, work, reading, relationships, etc
- I can’t lose weight
Each one of these limiting beliefs is an individual mini-computer program which alters our behavior in a negative way. These limiting beliefs are responsible for the life we have. If we are unhappy and want to change our circumstances in life, we need to replace these limiting beliefs with positive, uplifting beliefs. It can be done.
Here are some powerful strategies that will reprogram your subconscious and completely transform your life.
If you follow these strategies for 30 days, the reprogramming will stick and you will shift your mindset from negative to positive. #1. The Five-Year Letter The Five-Year Letter is a lot of fun. It gets the imagination going and when you’re done you will feel immediately better about yourself. Kids particularly enjoy this activity. Here’s how it works: Imagine it is five years from now and you are writing a letter to yourself explaining what your life is like five years from now. In a perfect world what would you like your life to look like in five years' time? Describe in your letter where you live, what kind of house you live in, what car you drive, what you do for a living, how much money you make, etc. Describe what you’ve done during the past five years – the goals you’ve accomplished and the dreams that have come true. The Five-Year Letter will become a blueprint for your future life. #2. Write Your Obituary This exercise forces you to evaluate your current life and gives you an opportunity to rewrite your script for the future. What would you like your perfect obituary to say? How would you like the world to remember you? Include all of the things you would like to accomplish in your life. Don’t skimp. List all of the dreams you realized in your life. Your obituary should make you in awe of yourself. Really lay it on. Let it pour forth your greatness and success. Let it paint a picture of the ideal person you would like to be. Like the Five-Year Letter, let this obituary become the blueprint of your ideal future life and your future you. #3. Make a List of Your Wishes and Dreams List every wish or dream you would like to come true. Then reduce it to the top five wishes or dreams you would like to come true over the next five years. #4. Create Goals around Your Wishes and Dreams Goals help bring clarity to what we are trying to accomplish in life. Goals work like a magnifying glass works in focusing the sunlight. Goals help focus our activities. Once you identify the actions required, you have your goals. The only remaining issue is whether or not you have the ability to perform the actions required. #5. Create a Success Log This is a listing of all of your successes in life. Its purpose is to put a stop to the negative self-criticism we all seem to engage in. It’s a tool that helps shift our thinking from negative to positive. Positive thinking attracts good things into our life by reprogramming our old brain positively. Negative thinking attracts bad things into our life by negatively programming our old brain. The Success Log helps shift our thinking from negative to positive. Every time you screw up, pull out your Success Log and begin reading. It will stop you from beating yourself up the rest of the day and prevent you from going negative. Mistakes and failures are nothing more than lessons to be learned. They are not a reflection of our incompetence, lack of education or some character flaw. They are just things to learn from. The Success Log helps put mistakes and failures in their proper context and keeps us on the path of Prosperity Thinking. #6. Create Daily Affirmations Around Your Goals Affirmations need to be in the present tense and represent a future state of being. For example: “I am my company’s #1 salesperson”. Affirmations only work when they are tied to our goals, dreams or main purpose in life. #7. Create a Vision Board A Vision Board is a visual representation of all of the things we desire in life. Cut out and paste pictures to your Vision Board that represent the ideal house you would like to live in, the ideal car you drive, the ideal profession, the size of your bank account, places you would like to go on vacation, things you would like to do, people you would like to meet or become friends or do business with, etc. Keep this Vision Board where you can see it and look at it in the morning just after waking up and at night, just before going to bed. #8. Meditate Once in the Morning Sit in a chair and get comfortable. Close your eyes. Feel your eyes relax; then your whole head; then your neck; then your shoulders; then your chest; then your arms; then your waist; then your legs; and then your feet. Take 30 deep breathes and visualize each number in your head. Let all thoughts drift by, one after the other. Visualize your big dream coming true. Visualize all of your goals being realized. Visualize your ideal life, with your ideal home, ideal job, your substantial income, and your good health. See yourself happy and successful. Ask for help in overcoming any obstacles that are currently in your way. Open your eyes and say “I am happy”.
What we believe determines who we become in life. Successful people are open-minded to new ideas, new knowledge and new ways of thinking. Unsuccessful people have limiting, negative beliefs that hold them back in life.