with Sue Cullen
- Change your circumstances by changing your perception.
The human mind is so powerful it can drive you into a dark hole and it can be your biggest cheerleader. It can self-sabotage; bring about fear, but also allow you to feel success, delight, and joy. Your mind can cause you to feel stuck in your past and it can make you worry.
The placebo effect is real and works. You trick yourself all the time. You instruct your subconscious mind to find evidence to support your beliefs all the time. Now, start tricking your mind to work in your favour.
Your habits will pull you back but even by telling yourself, “Actually, I can do this”, you’re creating an opportunity. If you want to change your circumstances, change your perception.
- Understand the difference between your conscious & subconscious mind.
Your conscious mind enables you to evaluate and make decisions.
Your subconscious mind trusts and accepts what your conscious mind decides. It’s in your subconscious where you store your habits and your beliefs.
As you get older, you rely on your subconscious mind to operate. For example, when you were a child learning to ride a bike, this was done using your conscious mind. Now, when you ride a bike, your subconscious mind does the work.
Our conscious and subconscious minds working together is what makes humans powerful and advanced as a species.
- Your mind doesn’t wander, your awareness does.
Imagine your awareness is a glowing ball of light, floating around, like an orb. It floats in the vast space that is your mind. Anger, love, as well as all of the different memories that trigger these emotions for you live within this space. Imagine that ball of light travelling around your mind lighting up different areas.
When you go to the cinema, you’re paying someone else to take hold of your awareness. The director takes you to different parts of your mind, directing you how to feel.
What you become aware of every day can trigger memories and emotions and consequently a physical reaction.
- Grow your awareness.
Have you ever been looking for something, maybe a set of keys, before realising they’re in your hand? This is an example of how your brain can keep you from seeing the whole truth. Opportunities are available to you every day but you’re not seeing them all; they’re being blocked out. You’ve convinced yourself you’ve lost your keys, that’s now your truth.
The Reticular Activating System is the part of your brain that filters out information to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed. So much information passes through your sensory organs. For example, feel your socks on your toes. Now you can feel them, but you didn’t think about it until it was mentioned.
Be conscious of what information you’re giving to your RAS. It works to support your habits and will filter out information to honour and indulge those habits. It matches the labels you’ve given yourself and the beliefs you hold. If you notice and become aware of this, you can make changes more easily and effectively.
By growing your awareness, you can learn to work with your mind; make it work in your favour so that you never feel trapped. By becoming more aware, you will start to behave differently and make different choices.
Our image of the world and life is distorted by how our brain filters out information. This is all shaped by our experience with the people around us, society, education, and the art and media we consume.
Look for further information; further opportunities. There is more to what meets the eye. Often we’ll say, “I’ve tried everything, nothing works”, but we haven’t tried everything. There’s always another way of approaching a problem or responding to a dilemma.
Discover the hidden aspects of your life. There are opportunities there. Are there people in your life who have been there all the time but you’ve never had a conversation with them?
Become aware of what you’re blocking out. When life presents you with opportunities, you want to show up and experience them in the way they should be experienced.
Heightening your awareness will enable you to seize opportunities. Become conscious of your perception. How you perceive life will affect your outcomes. Even by considering this concept, you’ve already started to make progress.
- Keep your chin up, literally.
Practice keeping your chin up so that you’re visually accessing more. This also helps you breathe easier which has a further positive effect on your brain and awareness.
- Once your self-image is formed, it’s difficult to let go of.
Your multiple thoughts and self-talk build up your self-image and reinforce it. This informs your performance and your reality.
For example, you may have already decided that you’re a shy person. As a result, your body will give you physical reactions to stop you from speaking in public, like a foggy mind, or sweating. Another example is that you may have told yourself you’re a clumsy dancer. Now, your mind will make you worried about falling if you get up on that dance floor. This has become your truth. You’ve attached your emotional history to this truth. You’ve told yourself you’re shy, so now you’re acting shy. Try stepping out of that comfort zone and step into an area of discomfort like you did when you first learned to ride a bike. Acknowledge any physical symptoms that are deterring you from moving forward. For example, if public speaking is uncomfortable for you, go for it and pay attention to your shaky hands or your dry throat. Be aware of what you’re thinking. It’s important to understand the physical symptoms and to feel the big emotions when you’re outside your comfort zone. This enables you to grow and learn from your experiences.
We all act in accordance with our truth as we believe it to be. Beliefs are the filters that turn you on and off. If you think you can’t do something, this is often the result of a deep-rooted belief that your brain is programmed to go along with.
- Do your beliefs support you to be the best version of yourself?
If you believe in luck, it’s actually that belief and awareness that brings about good fortune. For example, if you’ve seen two magpies and believe that you’ll experience something positive that day, you probably will. Equally, if you’ve crossed a black cat and believe you’re now going to have an awful day, you probably will. If you believe you’ll never achieve something, you won’t achieve it.
Beliefs can enable you to be the best version of yourself you can be. They can also control you and discourage you from releasing your full potential. By changing your beliefs, you change your world. To do this, you need to look at things differently.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do you want to believe about yourself?
- What truth do you want to hold?
- What beliefs will work for you?
- What’s the consequence of holding onto your beliefs?
- What if you let go of those beliefs?
- Disrupt the beliefs that are holding you back.
Think about the areas of your life in which your beliefs hold you back.
- What beliefs do you hold about your work? Do you believe you’re not assertive? Maybe that’s why you didn’t go for that job that you wanted or you didn’t submit that proposal or apply for that funding.
- What beliefs do you hold about yourself in relationships? Do you believe you can’t maintain a relationship? Do you believe you’re happy single? Do you believe you’re happy in a toxic relationship?
- What about your physical health? Do you believe your body wasn’t made for exercise? Do you believe eating healthy is too much work?
- What beliefs are you holding for yourself? Do you believe you’re moody or emotional? Maybe you believe that you don’t like to show your emotions; you don’t have any emotions, things just don’t bother you. Do you believe you’re not smart?
What do you gain from clinging to your beliefs? What do you think will happen if you change them? You can create a more empowering alternative.
Think of a limiting belief that you are now prepared to let go of, e.g. “I’m a shy person”. Interrogate this belief. Ask yourself:
- What’s the root of this belief?
- Where did that belief come from?
- How long have you had it?
- What evidence supports this belief?
- What’s keeping you believing this belief? Fear? Ignorance?
- What does this belief feel like?
- What does it mean to you?
- How does it keep you stuck?
- What have you done to try to overcome this belief in the past?
Consider what you would like to replace your limiting belief with, i.e. a new belief such as, “I’m a confident person”.
Now ask yourself:
- What do you need, to act on this new belief?
- How realistic are you with this belief?
- What are you prepared to do?
- Who are you going to be with this new belief?
- How often are you going to exercise this new belief?
Pay attention to the emotions that you feel as you ask yourself these questions. To disrupt your deep-rooted beliefs, you need to emotionally connect with the, “Why?”
Why do you want to disrupt this belief? If the reason is stronger than the initial belief, you won’t regress.
- Connect the cognitive with the emotional.
Unless you connect the cognitive with the emotional, you won’t get far. When you make the connection, the result is powerful.
- What kind of mood are you in?
- Are you stressed?
- Are you feeling down?
- Any level of discomfort or joy?
- Does your work fulfil you?
- Does your life fulfil you?
- Are you satisfied with your life?
Connect with the emotions that these questions might stir up. It will help you to understand yourself on a deeper level. Often, we don’t want to go here because it can be painful but it’s important for you to feel in order for you to identify what’s limiting you. Being honest with yourself about how you feel will help you progress. You deserve honesty.
- Improve your quality of thinking to improve the quality of your life.
Examine your thoughts in detail. What do you think about every day? Are your thoughts of quality? You’ll likely realise that a lot of them aren’t. What are you saying to yourself? What were you saying to yourself last night before you went to sleep? Your self-talk can be harmful and disempowering. Negative self-talk closes doors for you.
Look for the evidence to support what you’re telling yourself. Critically question what you’re saying to yourself. The more honest you are with yourself, the more opportunity you give yourself. When you improve your quality of thinking, you improve the quality of your life.
Do you overgeneralise when you talk to yourself? “I don’t like being in relationships.” “I’ll never get the contract.” Do you use phrases like this?
Do you minimise or magnify? “I forgot to send the email so my boss hates me.”
Do you label? “I didn’t stand up to my colleague because I’m a wimp.” “I’m an idiot for not seeing that coming.”
Do you jump to conclusions? Make negative assumptions about how people see you without any evidence? You’re not a mind reader. If your friend doesn’t show up, you don’t know that she can’t be bothered with you, but do you tell yourself that anyway?
Do you discount the positives? Do you engage in emotional reasoning? “I feel, therefore it must be true”. Sometimes we feel without even having an experience.
Once things go wrong, do you dismiss everything? “The steak is overdone so the whole meal was crap.”
Do you use all or nothing statements? “If I don’t get this job then I’m a failure.”
“I should”, “I must”, “I have to”. Reframe these into what they really are: “I want to”, and think about why you want to.
Every time a negative thought occurs to you, catch yourself and reframe. When negative talk seeps in, tell yourself, “That’s how I used to be, that’s not how I am now. I’m aware of what’s happening.”
Be who you want to be. For example, tell yourself, “Up until now I was a procrastinator; I lacked direction but that’s not how I am anymore. I now give 100% to everything I do; I bring energy and enthusiasm to everything I do.”
Connect with this new version of yourself. Tell yourself who you now are in detail: “I’ve an amazing work ethic. I’m growing my awareness. I know and understand how my body needs breaks and I nourish my body and my mind. This is me.”
If you repeat this kind of affirming self-talk 3-5 times daily, you’ll trick your mind into believing that you are living this and you’ll start moving towards this person more quickly.
- Practice gratitude in depth.
Effectively practicing gratitude is not as simple as reciting what you’re grateful for at the end of each day. Go a little deeper. Write down three things you’re grateful for today. Consider why you are grateful for them. This practice will change the chemistry in your head. Connecting feelings to what you write is powerful.
There must be something that happened today to be grateful for, no matter how small, even if it was a bad day. For example, think of a parent trying to manage a difficult child who constantly misbehaves and never listens. One day, the child didn’t brush his teeth, dress himself, or eat his breakfast. When he was dropped to school, he was shouting in the car. However, he did close the door behind him when he got out of the car. Out of all the pitfalls of that day, the fact that he closed the door behind him is a positive that that parent can be grateful for. Now they have something to build on.
So many positives happen all around you every day but you deem them insignificant. Any step forward is an accomplishment. Recognising these will keep you motivated and energised. Consequently, it’ll be easier for you to maintain your progress.
- Be your own cheerleader.
We are often the cheerleaders of everybody else. Start being your own cheerleader. Maybe you got to the gym when you contemplated not going. Maybe you got up earlier when you considered going back asleep. They’re accomplishments.
Find a mirror. Hold your hand up high. Connect with that person in the mirror; connect with that emotion of celebration. Tell yourself why you’re applauding yourself. Feel it. Give that person in the mirror a high five.
We have the memory of doing that to so many other people, but we often fail to stop and give ourselves that recognition.
Being your own cheerleader will energise and motivate you. Make it a daily practice, stack it onto a current exercise that you do regularly like brushing your teeth.
- Set a regular alarm to check in on yourself.
Set an alarm to go off every hour or two hours. When you hear it, ask yourself how you’re feeling. Reflect on yourself. Consider: “How do I want my next hour to look?”
If you’re feeling down, ask yourself, why are you feeling down? If you’re feeling nervous, why are you feeling nervous? Consider what you can do in the next hour to lift your mood.
- Try visualisation.
Visualisations are powerful and they take practice. While practicing visualisation, consider your five senses and the three dimensions.
Sit comfortably in your chair. Tell yourself you’re in a safe place. Consciously breathe in and out. Close your eyes. Feel your body relax as you become more comfortable. Pay attention to your posture – your hands loosely on your lap. Take a few slow deep breaths, in through your nose out through your mouth allowing your body to become even more relaxed.
Use your imagination to picture yourself standing in a kitchen. What colour are the counter tops and the walls? Notice the smells/sounds, the washing machine, cars outside, the clock on the wall. What are you smelling? Use all of your senses. Take your time. Now imagine a fresh, juicy orange on the counter. Hold it in your hand feeling the supple texture. Now begin to peel the orange, feeling the rough skin against your fingers, and the supple, plumpness of the flesh and juice inside. Smell that fresh orange smell as the skin comes away. Now lift it up to your mouth and take a bite. What was your experience? Can you smell the orange? Can you taste it? Are you salivating? Your memories were triggered during this visualisation.
Now try visualisation to ace that interview. Or nail that performance. Imagine you’re walking into the interview room or onto the stage…
- You are the architect of your life.
Consider this: An old wise man had his friends around for dinner. He passed fortune cookies to each of them. They excitedly broke open the fortune cookies to see what their futures will hold, but the paper was blank. The man asked his friends to write what they wanted their futures to be.
Everything you do is your choice. There is no-one else holding you back; no-one has you at gunpoint. You are in control of your life and your decisions. You need to expect more from yourself than anyone else expects from you.
Only you can define your future. Don’t allow it to be dictated to you by anyone else. You get to write the next chapter of your story. What do you want it to be? Who do you want to surround yourself with? You’re the narrator.