What We Think, We Create
We have a lot of pre-conceptions about who we believe ourselves to be. Sometimes we believe that our intelligence, character and our potential are set at birth or formed during our childhood. We believe that this impacts our ability to take on new challenges, embrace risk and be comfortable with change. And so it does, because our beliefs are what influence the results in our life. What we think, we create, both for the positive and the negative.
The Role of the Subconscious Mind
How much trepidation and fear we allow ourselves to experience is connected to our parental, ancestral and environmental conditioning. Our parents were no different, they were taught in a similar way. At the root of it is the subconscious mind playing havoc with our conscious mind. The subconscious mind’s default setting is to protect and automate. Therefore, it does its best to create habits that shield us from harm. That could be both a good thing and a bad thing. Good, because it puts us on alert to any dangers or threats lurking out there that may compromise our safety or curtail our very existence. This was helpful back in the day when we were less evolved and had to protect ourselves from dangerous beasts and the vagaries of the weather. Nowadays with most of our basic needs met in terms of a roof over our heads, readily available food and drink and a more ordered and legally structured society, these dangers have all but dissolved. What has replaced these fears and threats are the more evolved and often buried fears of lack of harmonious, loving relationships, lack of financial security, lack of self-fulfilment, lack of peer or societal approbation. These are more pernicious, insidious fears. And why is that? Let’s take a closer look.
If we have been deprived of love growing up or our confidence has been shattered when someone has told us we are not in the least bit attractive or are never going to amount to much, or if our parents have struggled and expressed issues with money, or that we have been told that money does not grow on trees and that we have to work hard to prosper and succeed, or that dreams are just wishful thinking, then naturally the more often we are exposed to this kind of internal and external dialogue during our formative years, the more likely they will cloud and create layers of indoctrinated beliefs in our subconscious mind.
As we have learned to understand in neuroscience, repetition is key (and the subconscious mind loves repetition because it supports automation). The subconscious mind will always interpret every current experience against the backdrop of our conditioning and inherited beliefs. It will seek to validate these beliefs, even if our current experience does not provide fullest evidence to support these beliefs. And so our beliefs are embedded and layered, like an onion. As the onion expands its layers of self-destructive beliefs, we become increasingly disempowered, helpless and anxious. The mental strain this causes impacts us physiologically, stress hormones are released and flood our body, these in turn over time cause physical ailments, disease and cognitive unrest and malfunction (brain fog, insomnia, loss of memory to name a few). It becomes a vicious cycle fluctuating between the mental and physical strain of not being in balance or energetic flow.
Fixed versus Growth Mindset
Many psychologists talk a lot about split mindsets: fixed and growth mindset. Fixed is when you believe that you are dealt a particular hand (personality, character, intelligence) when it comes to achieving anything in life. The other mindset believes that anything is possible, that you can be and do anything you set your mind to. That does not mean that you have everything at your fingertips, it just means you have the motivation and understanding that you can learn and that you can ask for help if you need it.
And it’s true, people do differ in their personality traits, talents, aptitudes and interests, but the belief is that anyone can change and grow through application and experience. With growth mindset there has to be a sense of determination and grit-like commitment to succeed, even when the chips are down and any number of obstacles are thrown in your path. It’s a resilient mindset.
And we CAN change – at any stage in our life – and move from fixed to growth mindset. Neuroscience proves that. It’s all about re-wiring your brain and creating new, neural pathways. It becomes a coaching programme for your subconscious mind, coaxing it to acknowledge that beliefs and circumstances can be changed and shifted out of the negative into the positive realm. How we do that, I will cover shortly.
Exercising Self-belief Against the Odds
Let’s look at some examples of how we can exercise self-belief against all the odds, including my own.
Did you know that Darwin and Tolstoy were considered ordinary children? In fact, Darwin was not a brilliant student as a child but went on to study at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland, intending to become a doctor, following in his father’s footsteps (he even followed him on his rounds). He had lost his mother at the age 8 and was raised by his older sisters. However, he developed a dislike of medical education and switched to study Divinity at Cambridge University, intending to become an Anglican minster. But whilst there, under the influence of botanist John S Henslow he discovered an avid interest in botany. Not too long afterwards he boarded the Beagle and didn’t look back. As for Tolstoy, he came from noble lineage, but he didn’t make much of his early life – he was a drifter and gambled, running up large debts. He even admitted later in life to being a fornicator, a liar and a cheat – “there was not a crime I did not commit… Thus I lived for ten years”. He struggled with his studies and chose instead to volunteer in the Russian army, which prompted him to start his writing career, chronicling his observations on the battlefield and finally expressing his repudiation of violence of any kind.
Like Darwin, Thomas Edison had a dislike of school and was regarded as being “addled” (translated as mentally ill) by his teacher. Today his condition would have been diagnosed as dyslexia. Fortunately for Edison, his mother believed in him and decided to home-school him. Edison then went on to fulfil his promise to his mother that she would be proud of him.
Stephen Hawking was on the verge of forsaking his life, when he was diagnosed with ALS at the tender age of 21, but against all odds he decided to take a different route and become one of the most famous physicists of all time. His best-selling work, A Brief History of Time, stayed on the Sunday Times bestsellers list for an incredible 237 weeks.
President Franklin Roosevelt could have easily given up the presidency and admit his limitations, when he contracted polio and became wheelchair bound. But he went on to become a great leader.
Mahatma Gandhi considered himself a coward when he was young. He was afraid of the dark, he let himself be bullied at school, he was socially inept and constantly plagued by doubts and fears. He was a college dropout. Even after studying law (in London) it was told that he fled a courtroom in terror to avoid presenting a difficult case. However, after spending 10 years in South Africa he returned to his native India a changed man. What changed him was his reading of the Bhagavad Gita. He came to personify its fundamental truth. He started living its message by spearheading a massive act of non-violent civil disobedience to free fellow Indians from the Black Act in South Africa. He somersaulted to master his fear and become known for his great moral and physical courage. One of his lifelines was the mantra Rama (meaning God), which he claimed through hypnotic repetition “opened the doorway to God”. Repetition has a powerful effect on the brain – it gathers and focuses its energy. He became a master of his energy.
Andrea Boccelli, the famous tenor and musician with over 75 million records sold, was born with congenital glaucoma that left him partially blind. He became fully blind at the age of 12 when he suffered a blow in a football game.
Michael J Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at just 29 years of age. Initially, he resorted to alcohol and became depressed. But when he reached rock-bottom, something (or some spirit) within him sparked him to embrace change and transform his life. He continued to pursue his acting career, making many hit movies, and he set up a foundation to raise money for Parkinson’s research.
There are so many similar stories of lesser known and very well-known people who have had severe challenges and roadblocks strewn across their path, but have chosen the growth mindset. Overcoming their fears and limitations, circumnavigating these to become a better person, often in the pursuit of helping not just themselves, but others.
My Story of Self-Belief
As for myself, I was very much conditioned to think that money and resources were scarce, that I had to prove myself and work hard to succeed. It was impressed on me that I had to have a college degree to have a really solid, well-paid job. As a result, I felt I was always having to measure up to some ideal, having to compete to become the best (as a family of 7 children there was a lot of rivalry growing up). But what actually transpired is that I often felt less than able, less than intelligent, less than confident enough to succeed. I feared failure, I feared disapproval from my parents and teachers. I went down the path of the college degree, I studied Economics and German, more to please my father and mother than myself. I tried to get a job in banking in the city, but ended up being a PA at a German bank in the city. Somehow, I always felt I missed the mark. My career has been a reflection of my mindset: evidencing times of momentum and times of stagnation.
When I decided to follow my passion for marketing, I started to blossom. I took a Masters degree in Marketing and got a Distinction. I loved that it allowed me to nurture the more creative side of my personality. However, my lack of self-belief was still a background spectre reaching out its tentacles and choking me at each stage of expansion and growth. I still had that underlying feeling that I was never good enough or successful enough.
It was only when I started my own coffee shop business, that I began to really shed those limiting beliefs. I poured all my passion, creativity and flair into the business, including business planning, marketing, cake baking and decorating, nurturing customer relationships and managing the books. I received a Women in Business award and subsequently a runner-up prize for Fastest Growing Small Business in the Caerphilly area of South Wales.
But for some (at the time inexplicable) reason the business started to flounder in its third year. I felt like I was losing my way and the allure of running my own business became tarnished from doing every conceivable job in the business without commensurate financial reward. This also coincided with branching out to a second shop in Cardiff, the capital city of Wales. This second investment proved too much of a stretch for my family: financially, physically, mentally and emotionally. And truth be told my heart wasn’t in it anymore: I was constantly plagued and distracted by the fear of losing my mother to a deteriorating illness.
When it was time to part with both businesses (first one, then the other), I underwent a soul-searching exercise, looking for new ways to re-invent myself and find a new creative outlet, where I could regain self-belief. After signing up with a network marketing company and undergoing some personal development work, I began to train in holistic touch therapies. My new passion were facials and reflexology, in particular Zone Face Lift (a combination of holistic facial, reflexology and massage). As I was on this new study path, I also embarked on training in the Energy Alignment Method, which culminated in becoming an accredited mentor in 2019. And from that experience and the interaction with more spiritual, awakened people I began to read and explore more about energy and the power of opening, balancing and synchronising our energy centres: the head, heart and hara (the hara is a point in the abdomen and the seat of empowered and spiritually aligned action).
Why Self-belief Matters
Self-belief is a necessity to moving forward in life, because it empowers us to make decisions, to adapt to changing circumstances, to see our true potential. However, it’s also true to say that self-belief ebbs and flows according to where our energy is and how we choose to react to circumstances and other people. When we acknowledge when our energy or positive momentum has faltered, when we admit to our weaknesses, phobias and fears, we can decide to liberate ourselves from them. The Energy Alignment Method is a powerful tool to relinquish these in a 5-step process. We determine and gauge how these fears and weaknesses show up in our energy, we release or transform these layer by layer and we manifest something more empowering and positive in their place.
Every time I am assailed by self-doubt, I choose to believe that I can overcome and prevail. I use the Energy Alignment Method to recalibrate my energy flow to one of alignment, empowerment and conviction. Once resistant energy is cleared, it invokes through affirmations and mantras a powerful and positive shift in energy. My physical form feels lighter for having lifted any heavy, resistant energy. I am more clear-headed, focused and at ease in my mind. I feel strong, creative and supported.
Your Life’s Purpose (Dharma)
Other important factors that support a healthy self-belief include a powerful mission or purpose in life. This is what is called Dharma. For many of us this takes shape later in life or mutates over time, depending on one’s life experiences. But when it’s true Dharma, finding and creatively using our unique gifts, talents or learnings in a way that serves the welfare of others, where we feel we are doing a service to humankind, then our self-belief takes on a life-force of its own. We are no longer our own project, with an unhealthy preoccupation of self (where the ego dominates and self-absorption reigns supreme), we suddenly expand our vision and mission to serve the world. We begin to unshackle ourselves from the prison of self-perfection and self-dedication.
Connecting to the Heart and Detaching from the Outcome
At this juncture, self-belief can then move into what I call hyperdrive. This is when we believe in ourselves as a force of good to help others and at the same time release the attachment to outcome. This is what the great seventeenth century Jesuit writer, Jean-Pierre de Caussade, speaks of in his spiritual classic Abandonment to Divine Providence:
When God becomes our guide he insists that we trust him without reservations and put aside all nervousness about his guidance. We are sent along the path he has chosen for us, but we cannot see it, and nothing we have read is any help to us. Were we acting on our own we should have to rely on our experience. It would be too risky to do anything else. But it is very different when God acts with us. Divine action is always new and fresh, it never retraces its steps, but always finds new routes.
I call this leaning into the heart energy, listening to divine guidance. When I do, I’m at my most intuitive and creative. I let go of the need to strive hard, to push against the current, I let go of the need to control all actions and outcomes, I let go of the oar and rudder. I allow myself to be guided by the spiritual current and open myself to trust: trust in a higher power and in my co-creative abilities (in other words creating with spirit and connection to infinite energy source). The actions that ensue can sometimes be shrouded in mystery or smoke (as Krishna says to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita), but I know these actions are on course when I use the Energy Alignment Method to check in with where my energy is and if it “feels” right to me (the emphasis is on feel rather than what I think is right). One of the most difficult aspects of faith is the suspension of one’s own preconceived ideas about how to proceed – our plans become superseded by a growing trust in a moment-to-moment guidance.
I’ve had the privilege of coaching women who have been stressed by financial lack, who have been paralysed by fear of making the wrong decision and taking the wrong fork in the road. I’ve helped them with a combination of energy and mindset work and newfound spirituality to trust in their own energy and instincts, to release what’s no longer serving them, to align to a higher energy frequency and to trusting in a co-creative Universe to create clarity and to bring their plans, dreams and desires to fruition. When they start to do so and let go of the need to be perfect and in control, the miracles unfold…
If you want to take that leap of faith and start improving your life, you only have to reach out to me. Book a call to get unstuck and start your wonderful, new life. There are no limits, except those you impose on yourself and when you are free of these, a liberating, abundant path opens up before you.
- Stephen Cope: The Great Work of Your Life, 2015 Paperback Edition
- Main image: Leandro De Carvalho (Pixabay)