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Who Do You Think You Are

Have you ever said the phrase ‘Ooh I’d love to but it’s not really ‘me’ to do something like that’ or ‘I wish I was the sort of person who could do that’?

If somebody asked you to write down a list of character traits you would use to describe yourself, what would it look like? It might look something like this:

Generous

Kind

Messy

Outgoing

Disorganised

Perfectionist

Creative

Cynical

Motivated

Bad at running

Caring

Friendly

Adventurous

Impatient

Emotional

Brave

 

So what is it that makes us think these are traits we possess? What makes us describe ourselves as 'messy' or 'brave'.

These are all beliefs that we have created about ourselves based on certain experiences we have had in our lives. When you have an experience, your brain makes a log of this experience and stores the information to help you make future decisions. For example, you may have had a teacher in school tell you that you were disorganised because you forgot your homework one day. Your brain stores this memory for future reference.

The more times you experience something, the more this belief is re-enforced until it becomes stronger and stronger. Imagine you were having a bad week that week, and also forgot your P.E. kit and then perhaps you didn't turn up to a club practice that you were supposed to. Your brain continues to log these experiences and re-enforce the belief that you are indeed unorganised. 

This belief can then impact the way we live our lives, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, as our brain has been conditioned to believe that this a character trait that is engrained in us. If, going forward, you consistently tell yourself you are disorganised, you will inevitably, even if subconsciously, stop trying to be organised because you simply accept that this is 'just the way you were born'. You have unknowingly limited yourself to various opportunities because your brain forces you to make current judgements based on previous experience. 

The beauty of understanding this process, is that if we are able to create such strong NEGATIVE beliefs about ourselves, we are also able to create incredibly strong POSITIVE beliefs about ourselves and thus improve the way we view ourselves and live our lives.

For example, let's assume you wish you were more adventurous. The first thing you need to do is take the leap and do something adventurous. This will make your brain log the experience and create a reference point for this belief. The more times you re-enforce this belief with adventurous experiences, the stronger your belief will become, as you have more evidence to prove that this belief is correct. After enough of these experiences, you will have built this belief that you are adventurous and this will be a new character trait that you have created for yourself. 

And you can do the same to make yourself more motivated, outgoing, confident, hardworking, inquisitive, organised, social and so the list goes on.

The minute you realise that a large proportion of who you are is made up of how our brain has interpreted previous experiences, as opposed to a built-in genetic permanent state, you unlock the power to become whoever you want to be. 

Give it a try - write out a list of words that you would use to describe yourself and think about how you can change some of the negative traits to what you want them to become! 

Remember: Who you think you are and who you have the potential to be are two incredibly different things. You really can do anything and be anyone you set your mind to. 

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