How to change beliefs?

Marcella Bremer Positive Power 3 Comments

Do you want to adopt the beliefs and behaviors of the positive mindset? I hope you do. This next part (about 14 blog posts) will be about the “inner work” you can do to develop your personal potential: change beliefs, know yourself better, find your purpose, transcend your fears and what is holding you back, and so on. If we don’t look in the mirror first, we are less able to look outside with fresh eyes and make a difference.

If you want to be a positive agent in spite of earlier experiences with scarcity, competition, failure, and fear – you might want to change some of your thinking. How could you do this? We can’t and don’t want to simply erase the old data and install positive beliefs and assumptions. Then we would lose the caution of the conventional mindset that we need as well. But we can look with fresh eyes and create new experiences – and develop positive beliefs over time.

Open mind

The first step is to be open to the possibility that the positive mindset can be true in certain contexts. You don’t have to go with “always” and “everywhere” because that might not pass your reality check. This is what Otto Scharmer describes in Theory U: we suspend judgment. Mindfulness training can help you do so: observe and do not judge. What do you see, hear, think, feel? Take note of this and let it pass. Don’t associate with it. You are not what you think of feel. You have passing thoughts and emotions. You see, read and hear things – and you can train yourself to think: that is new information. Don’t associate with it. You don’t need to judge and have an opinion about what you see, hear, read. Just take note of new information. Challenge your mind to gather information or observe just like Sherlock Holmes. It can become a game: to mindfully notice.

Search positive exceptions

Second, discover and challenge limiting beliefs. It can be an interesting search to detect your hidden assumptions. You can often identify them by their absolute terms, like always, and never. Or; everyone and nobody.
Disarm them by challenging them: “Is it true that all people always refuse to change?”
“Is it true that all people in this culture are skeptical, conservative, and unable to open up to a positive mindset?”

Search positive exceptions. Is it true that people always refuse to change? Click To Tweet

Now, start looking for exceptions. “When did some people change a bit, during a change project?”
“Which individuals were hopeful, forward-thinking, and open to trying something new, even for a short while?”

You might discover a crack – and that’s where the light comes in. Now you can work with those positive “exceptions” to your rules and try to increase them. In a way, you are looking for positive deviance. Something or someone that deviates from the “normal baseline” and that stands out as positive, uplifting, enthusing, extraordinary.
This is training your mind to notice positive potential. You need this ability to develop a positive culture.

Positive explanations

Another exercise is to be creative and find a positive explanation for something that happens – instead of the habitual realistic, skeptical or cynical narrative.
For instance: The fact is you’ve been asked to join a positive culture project.
Positive narrative: They value my qualities and positive contribution to this organization. I’m acknowledged and respected. They expect something great from me – how exciting!
Realistic response: They need a culture change so thought that my organizing skills might come in handy.
Skeptical/cynical response: Someone has to do the extra work. They invite me to keep me cooperative and control what I do. They need something from me.

Of course, you want to check the facts and see if that positive frame holds any truth. Don’t assume anything, but be open to the possibility while you ask or gather observations.

The point is to not jump to skeptical or cynical conclusions too fast as it will drain your energy and close off your mind. Stay open and train yourself to find a positive framing of events.

If you keep focusing on what is working well – in addition to what is not working – you enhance your energy, motivation, and creativity. You might encounter positive experiences that back up a new, positive belief. Slowly but surely, you will be broadening your mental map to include positivity.

Are you living and working as if the positive mindset was true? Click To Tweet

It’s just like with money and interest: more gets more. Optimistic narratives and noticing the positive will bring you more positive experiences and good “luck”. It is training your brain to notice the glass half full even though our evolutionary bias is to notice, remember and mind the half-empty glass. We consciously want to see the whole picture, not just a “normal” negatively-biased version of reality.

Positive examples
Seeing is believing. If you find it difficult to challenge beliefs and to see positive potential – try to find positive examples in real life. Who is living and working as if the positive mindset was true? It might be interesting to talk with them!

What are the beliefs that you’d like to change? Challenge them with positive exceptions, positive explanations, and real-world positive examples.

This is book post #34 – ME

Here‘s the earlier post
Here‘s the next post

If you’re confused – please start with post #1 or check the Positive Power overview and read the Positive Agent Manifesto.

Copyright © Marcella Bremer 2017. All rights reserved.

Leaders, employees, consultants, citizens – everyone can make a positive difference from any position, without needing permission or resources from others. This blog will help you see positive possibilities and (re)claim your positive agency. Unstuck yourself and engage others via your interaction and actions. Transform into a positive organization where people and performance thrive.

I’m blogging my next book: “Positive Power at Work – How to make a positive difference from any position.” Your feedback is appreciated!

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Comments 3

  1. Thank you for blogging. Not sure, why someone should change believes?
    I guess what we have to change is the world’s understanding about what a belief is.
    It is not something you hear around while growing or read in the book and decide that this is going to be your belief now.
    Or like say one Monday you decide to change your life from negative to positive and put that mindset into a belief.

    IT DOESN’T WORK.
    Belief comes from within and not the other way around.

    Belief is very unique and not really describable and true belief has nothing to do with being positive or belonging to a club of like minded people. So, really, no need to change anything from outside. When and if someone is ready to change the force will appear.

    1. Post
      Author

      I for sure would like to change beliefs that are limiting in any way – you don’t have to wait for an outside force. When you feel ready, you can start. But you are right – simply deciding to change beliefs is not enough. It doesn’t work. Affirmations are nice but beliefs are deeper rooted in the subconscious. With a coach or counselor, you might transcend what is holding you back and increase your personal positive power. The most effective approaches are those that bypass the verbal, rational mind and address the subconscious. Having said that, some rational awareness can be helpful as well. We’ll look at ourselves to start this personal work in my next blog posts. The series continues on May 16 with https://www.leadershipandchangemagazine.com/are-you-willing-able-and-ready

  2. I’m a student in Positive Psychology. I live in São Paulo Brazil and I appreciate to read your nice articles

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