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Mind Control 🧠
Change your mindset. Change your life.
Yesterday I answered my phone and the voice on the other end delivered some unexpected news.
Mr. Fogle, we have your test results. You are positive for Covid-19.
My mind sort of spiraled into negativity as I dove into research, checking death rates, and reading articles about young people dying from this thing. I had a ton of work to do, but I just couldn’t summon the will to follow through on anything. When you’re plagued by negative thinking, every bit of effort feels 10x harder than it should be.
So here I am in the early hours Friday morning, and I’m totally shifting the content I had planned for this week’s newsletter. Today, I want to switch the focus to your mind.
Knowledge and Hard Work Aren’t Enough
I've had quite a few people ask me "How do I get to my goal of ____ when I'm stuck here?"
For most of our lives we heard advice like: Make good grades. Get into a good college. Finish your degree. Work hard. Be a doctor. Be a lawyer. Get that certification. 🤮
These days I'm relieved to see advice in more of a meritocratic form: Learn to code. Start a side business. Work weekends. etc.. And while I agree with these examples, they're only half of the equation. The other part is more important, and I’m surprised more people don’t talk about it.
Mind Control. 🧠
For years I set ambitious goals and struggled to make progress due to limiting beliefs like: imposter syndrome, anxiety about my health, and feelings of inferiority. I hoped that if I worked hard and hit my goals, I’d feel more confident. But it never happened like that. In reality, I’d achieve something and rather than increased confidence, I’d feel like an imposter who didn’t belong. It wasn’t until I tackled these negative thinking patterns that my life changed.
There are endless apps, task management tools, and self-help books focused on positive thinking and motivation, but none of them can reach into your mind and eliminate negative thinking. It’s critical that you understand what you actually believe, because these thoughts have a much greater impact on your ability to get what you want from life than any amount of studying, knowledge, or hard work.
What Beliefs are Limiting You?
Your brain interprets events and weaves them into a set of beliefs and rules about you and the world around you. These beliefs often serve an important purpose, like big animals with sharp teeth are dangerous or don’t touch the hot stove, but occasionally your brain creates a belief that causes more harm than good. For example, if you've dealt with personal rejection or betrayal, your mind might come up with its own rule system to make sense of this: People can't be trusted. I'm not outgoing enough. Other's don't value me. I lack the experience or credentials.
These sort of negative beliefs are reinforced and become stronger over time as your brain interprets new events and categorizes certain ones as evidence to support existing beliefs.
A Simple Exercise: Identifying and Replace Limiting Beliefs
Reflect on beliefs that may be holding you back. It could be a belief that you’re not smart enough, so you don’t want to start learning to code, or it could be a belief that you’re not outgoing enough, so you’re hesitant to start that business. You’ll find these beliefs are often broad generalizations, so be sure to challenge the truth of each one.
Once you’ve identified them, it’s not enough to just be aware of them and hope you can block them out with positive thinking. There’s no way to avoid the pattern when you’re trying to play “thought police.” That’s like me telling you not to think about a Pink Elephant. A better approach is to replace these beliefs with a more accurate statement. Here are some examples:
Limiting Belief #1: I don't have enough experience or credentials
Reflection: While it's true that I don't have decades of experience and every credential, I definitely have some experience. And my unique experience gives me huge value and one-of-a kind insight.
New Belief: "My knowledge is priceless."
Limiting Belief #2: I'm not outgoing enough
Reflection: People appreciate my thoughtfulness. Any role in the world could benefit from listening more than they talk.
New Belief: "Quiet conveys interest & intelligence."
8 years ago, I was working harder than I ever had, but I was completely stuck. I’d finished law school but was driving a shuttle and earning minimum wage. I felt depressed, anxious, and my sense of self-worth was in the gutter. Limiting beliefs were controlling my life and undermined my ability to move forward.
Within weeks of taking control of my mind, everything started to turn around for me. Learning to code was a big part of this, but I couldn’t have made the jump from law to software if I hadn’t worked hard on my mind first.
It’s been almost a decade since I started this, and I still have to fight negative thinking regularly. Eventually the process of identifying and examining your beliefs becomes second nature.