A sporting year! The Women’s Euros, the Commonwealth Games, Wimbledon, F1 and the World Cup yet to come! I thought it would be fun to take a look at what makes the best, the best.
Ask any elite athlete in any discipline and they will tell you that success begins in the mind. The mind and physical body are so closely connected, that the physical will not function at optimum performance without the close attendance of a healthy mind. To produce excellence, you must first believe that you are capable of achieving ultimate success. Every athlete will believe that they can win and it’s that total belief that has driven them to the peak of their game. The same is true in any profession.
Let’s consider belief for a moment. It may surprise you to discover that beliefs are not true. Beliefs are not true and we act as if they are, therefore beliefs act as self-fulfilling prophecies. If we believe something to be true, then it will be true in our personal model of the world, our own reality. This concept is nicely illustrated by the quote attributed to Henry Ford, ‘Whether you believe you can or you can’t you are absolutely right.’
Beliefs are related to our values and every individual belief is linked to a certain value, which is held at the unconscious level of our cognitive minds. Beliefs are more conscious than our values and make generalisations about our actions, about what we are doing or what we need to do. Beliefs form our Model of the World and by that we mean, how we believe the world is. One of the presuppositions of NLP is, ‘The map is not the territory’, meaning the representation we make of our own reality doesn’t accurately describe reality itself because everyone forms a different map which fits their values and belief systems. So, what we believe is our truth and guides our perception of reality and our outward and inward behaviour.
Positive beliefs are extremely powerful contributors to our success. If we believe something is possible, then it is possible in our model of the world. As we began by considering sporting success, let’s take Roger Bannister, the Athlete as an example. When Roger announced that he was going to run a mile in under 4 minutes, his contemporaries said it was not physically possible. Roger’s belief in the possibility of running a 4 minute mile made his success possible. After he achieved his goal, the four minute mile was achieved a further 70 times, because Roger had altered other peoples model of the world by his success, they believed it could be done and so they too achieved results.
Beliefs can also be limiting. If we believe something about ourselves, all of the time, then we behave as if that belief were true and so become the product of our limiting beliefs. For example, if a person has a limiting belief that ‘I’m not good enough’, then they will behave as someone who is not good enough. If a person believes that they can’t make enough money, then they will behave accordingly and never make enough money. So what we believe generates our model of the world and dictates our behaviour. Beliefs are very powerful and changing a limiting belief can transform your life entirely. The good news is that it is easy to change your limiting beliefs and replace them with powerful positive beliefs, using the technology of NLP.
Today, I invite you to give up arguing for your limitations and to leave your reasons and excuses for not having your life the way you want it behind. What you focus on is what you get because energy flows where attention goes.
Here’s a challenge for you and an opportunity to play and experience a bit of NLP thinking. Think about something in your life, either at work or more personal environments that you want to achieve and haven’t achieved as yet. Think exclusively about that one thing and push everything else from your consciousness. Now, as you think about that one thing that you want to achieve and haven’t yet, notice how you represent that thing internally. What do you feel like? Do you have a picture in your mind? Notice the properties of the picture, is it small, large, bright, dark, moving, still, framed, panoramic, do you see it as if through your own eyes or can you see yourself in the picture? Notice any sounds that are important to your representation, including any self-talk. Notice your physiology, how does your body feel? Notice any muscular tension, how you are holding yourself and notice the rate and location of your breathing. Now ask yourself, what is it that you believe about yourself that means you haven’t achieved this thing yet? Notice the answer that your unconscious mind gives you and then let that go.
Now, please think about something that you wanted to achieve and achieved really easily and enjoyably. Think exclusively about that one thing and push everything else from your consciousness. Now, as you think about that one thing that you achieved, notice how you represent that thing internally. Consider and notice everything that you noticed above. Most importantly, notice how this representation differs from the other. Now ask yourself, what is it that you believe about yourself that means you achieved this thing? Notice the answer that your unconscious mind gives you and then let that go.
Take a moment to reflect on the differences between the two representations, note them down if that helps. Most crucially, note down the belief that you held about yourself in each circumstance and see how different they are.
In order to change the belief that you found to be limiting your success, return to thinking about that thing that you want to achieve that you haven’t achieved yet. Now, begin to change how your represent that activity in your mind so that it matches the thing that you have achieved. Change your physiology, your posture, your breathing, change the way the picture looks, change the sounds and the self-talk and as you do that, notice the limiting belief changing to one of achievement.
Practice this technique a few times on the same desired goal, so that a new pattern of belief becomes consolidated in your thinking. Your brain will form new and more complex neural connections and your beliefs will shift to empower and motivate you to achieve.
Beliefs are not true and we act as if they are, therefore beliefs act as self-fulfilling prophecies. I invite you to give up arguing for your limitations!