How the Mind Plays Tricks on Reality (365 Days of Spirited Living – DAY 264)
“We know what we are but not what we may be.”
— Ophelia in Hamlet
Your mind is the greatest asset you have. Yet, very few people actually spend time thinking about the way they think. Reality, however, is uniquely shaped by our thoughts — thoughts about ourselves, other people, and the world around us. If you develop cognitive processes that perpetuate inaccurate interpretations about yourself and your abilities, you’ll likely limit your accomplishments.
Thoughts are often the causes of effects in our lives. What you think influences how you act and what you say. How you think impacts your perception of the world, of people, of yourself, of intentions, motives, and non-verbal cues. Your thoughts reinforce beliefs and perceptions. If you think you’re a loser, you’ll feel like a loser. Then, neurons in the brain will tick off and have you start acting like a loser, which in turn reinforces the false thought that you must be a loser.
You might say, “I just don’t have any friends.” That assumption leads you to avoid people and social situations. You may attend meetings but sit in the very last row. You will go to social functions but stand off to the side or in the corner. The thought that “I just don’t have any friends” has reinforced the underlying belief that “I’m just not good enough” or “People don’t like me.” So you don’t put in the effort to be friendly and develop relationships with others.
Once you develop assumptions and draw interpretations about yourself, you run the risk of always putting yourself in a position to reinforce those thoughts. And you reject anything that subtly runs contrary to those thoughts. For example, a person who thinks he just isn’t good at anything will underestimate his success and accomplishments while at the same time putting a spotlight on all his failures and mistakes.
But if that very same person switched the spotlight from his mistakes to his success, his mind begins to produce a different outcome. Positivity doesn’t work magic tricks. But channelling cognition into a more optimistic path leads to more positive and productive behavior. Each of us lacks one thing or another in skill, talent, or ability, but if all you focus on is your lack, you limit your potential.
Consider that it might not be your lack of anything that is holding you back. Instead, it might be your own inaccurate, limiting beliefs and perception of yourself that is holding you back from living life and experiencing success. The thoughts you think and the labels you assign to yourself and even allow others to place on you will create the reality you face.
Don’t allow limiting beliefs to restrict your potential. You can change the way you think. Your cognitive faculties can be unruly like a little child, but when brought under the control of your will, it can assist you in altering your perception and changing your reality. Pay attention to situations that remind you of when your thoughts were inaccurate. Allow yourself to do things that challenge what you think about yourself.
Pretty soon, you will develop a sense of who you are. You will understand your core beliefs and embrace them as your own. By choosing to train your mind to think differently, you’ll be better able to handle life’s challenges and achieve your greatest potential. If you believe you can, then you will. And your belief will help create the reality.
“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”