Our reality is based on our beliefs. If we can learn to re-change and shape our beliefs, then we can change our lives and transform the way that we feel, act and behave. In this episode, Steven Aitchison will tell you how to do exactly that.
Show Notes & Resources
Steven, tell us about your life…
- My story begins back in my late teens, going through some really crappy times, trying to figure out what life is all about and how do I transition into adulthood.
- I questioned everything about life, about the world and read about everything.
- I finished up getting into self-help by reading ‘Think And Grow Rich' by Dale Carnegie, when it fell on my head as I was reaching for another book in a second-hand bookshop.
- After reading ‘Think And Grow Rich' it really started me on a whole new journey and I really thought it was amazing.
- I changed my life all based on that catalyst. I knew that I wanted to change everything.
- I knew that I wanted to help people, so I moved to Glasgow and started nursing.
- Eventually decided that the National Health Service wasn't for me, as it was run too much like a business and I didn't like that, so I had to find something else to do.
- In the end, I went to University to study psychology and got a degree in that… making me the first person in my family to get a degree.
- That really blew away one of the big beliefs that I'd held about myself; that I wasn't clever enough to get a degree.
- That degree and the knowledge that I had acquired led to me starting a blog called “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life”, where I'd share the personal development advice that I had learned. Over the last 12 years, it's gained a big following and a big email list.
- After that, I started to create personal development training programs and turned it into a business and then started making business training programs too.
- I'm very much into business, but personal development too… as you can't run a business without developing yourself.
What would you describe as the lowest moment in your life? What did you do to overcome it and what lesson did you take away from it?
- Shortly before discovering that book, so I was about 19 or 20 and I honestly, truly believed that I didn't belong to this world.
- It didn't suit me to be in this world. It felt like the world was like a jacket and it just didn't fit me.
- From the age of 16-20, I kept fantasising about ways to kill myself and end my life. It was the only thought that kept me going.
- I wanted to find a way to kill myself that would look like an accident, so that it wouldn't hurt my parents as much.
- One day, I decided to take an overdose of 30 strong sleeping pills. I told my parents that I loved them, and called my sister that I loved them. Then I went to bed crying with a glass of milk and 30 sleeping pills. I decided this was it.
- I fell unconscious and fell out of bed somehow. My Dad heard the thud and he came to find out what was going on. He called the ambulance and they saved my life.
- I woke up a couple of days later in hospital and I was offered a psychotherapist but I said no and realised I knew what I wanted to do.
- I knew that there was a bunch of stuff that I didn't like about my life and that I wanted to change it. My job, my ‘drinking buddies', where I lived. I changed everything and from there I started to love my life.
- I took control I learned that the life you're living is not set in stone. It doesn't have to continue on the way it is – you can change it.
You focus a lot on the power of beliefs and the way that they influence us. So why are beliefs so important?
- Beliefs are extremely important and one of the biggest gifts that we have been given as humans is that we can change our beliefs.
- We have intrinsic beliefs (which you hold about yourself) and extrinsic beliefs (which you hold about the world around you).
- For example, I'd spent years believing that I wasn't clever. I really believed that I was ‘thick' because that's what I'd been called at school. It turns out that I'd actually had a hearing problem, so when the teachers faced away to write on the board, I couldn't hear anything and so I had real problems at school.
- One day, after passing a history exam (aged about 15) with an A-grade, I realised that I wasn't stupid. Suddenly I was able to change an intrinsic belief that I'd held about myself for a long time.
- Later on in life, I realised just how important intrinsic beliefs are – and the ability to change those beliefs.
- If you can change just one belief and it changes your whole life… imagine if you could look at all of the other beliefs that are holding you back and change our disempowering beliefs into empowering beliefs.
How do our beliefs that we hold about ourselves shape the way that we think, act and react to the world around us?
- Our beliefs are everything and our reality is based on our beliefs (our beliefs are not based on our reality).
- If we can change our beliefs, we change the way that we see ourselves and the way that we see the world.
- Gandhi said, “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny”.
- So it all begins with those beliefs.
- We use these “I am” statements and that's how we find out what our beliefs are. We tell ourselves things like “I am stupid” or “I am ugly” or “I am not good with women”.
- We also create beliefs about what we think other people think about us. Our beliefs about other people's view of us shape how we feel and what we believe about ourselves too.
- If we can look at ourselves and change the intrinsic beliefs about ourselves, it doesn't matter what we think other people might think about us because we can just become confident in our own skin.
In a world of technology, social media, the press, and idle gossip, it's hard to know what to believe. How do we counteract this?
- I believe that the news is disproportionately biased towards bad news, because bad news sells.
- When we look at the world around us, we naturally assume that the world is a bad or evil place, because the bad news is everywhere.
- We don't get all of the good things that are happening everywhere, we only get the bad news… which shapes our beliefs about the world.
- It's worth taking a 30 day ‘news-fast' and avoid listening to, reading or watching the news (because we're connected to it 24/7), and you'll see a huge difference in how you feel and your attitude towards life.
- Gossip is the same. If it doesn't affect us, why pay attention to it? If it doesn't affect us, we should be focused on us and how we can help others.
- If we can help other people, based on our beliefs and have a positive attitude towards life, then that is going to be much more giving, rather than listening to the idle gossip.
- You've got to force yourself to question your beliefs, question what is being told to us (and why it's being told to us!) or just ignore it.
When (and how) do we form our beliefs in the first place? And what signs should we look for to indicate that we have misleading or harmful beliefs?
- This blew me away, but we form most of our intrinsic beliefs by the time we are 7 years old.
- At 7 years old, we don't even know what a belief IS but we have formed most of our beliefs by that age. It's crazy, but it's true.
- If we look at that and question where we get those core intrinsic beliefs from, it's passed down from our parents, our teachers, the press and the people we look up to.
- If it's our parents who help us to shape our beliefs, where do they get their beliefs from? Well, theirs are passed down from their parents (and their parents before them). That means that some of our beliefs are hundreds of years old.
- For example, money beliefs. We live in the wealthiest generation we have ever lived in but a lot of people still live with a belief that money is evil or that we aren't worthy of having lots of money. But you have to look at that and realise that money can be a good thing.
- From 7 years old onwards, it's going to become difficult to change those beliefs. It's only in our teens or twenties where we're able to take a step back and make it change.
- Perception + Evidence + Repetition + Time = Beliefs.
What's the process that someone can follow to start to re-shape their beliefs that aren't serving them in a positive way.
- You have to start by becoming aware of the beliefs that aren't positive. That's a difficult thing to do.
- We have literally hundreds of beliefs and we have to become aware of the disempowering beliefs that are holding us back.
- For example, “I am not worthy of having money”. Lots of people find this… they might get a lot of money in but then they lose it all. You hear about that with lottery winners sometimes.
- The way to change that is to become aware of it. Awareness is where everything begins.
- What can you change that belief into? Like, “money is a good thing”.
- You start with a new perception like that. Cognitive dissonance states that we cannot hold two opposing beliefs at the same time.
- For example, you cannot believe that “money is the root of all evil” AND “money is a good thing”, at the same time.
- It starts with perception and then you look for evidence of the new perception.
- For example, you'd look at billionaires like Richard Branson and Bill Gates. They have charity foundations helping millions of people all over the world. That's evidence to prove that money is a good thing.
- Then you want to repeat that money is a good thing and look for evidence and repeat it over and over, eventually, that new belief that used to be like a rock becomes malleable and a new belief forms over the top of it.
- The new belief becomes like a rock and solidifies and that's where you start to change your conscious beliefs quickly.
- And this happens in all areas of life, not just money. Things like “are you worthy of being loved?”. Lots of people don't believe they are.
What belief patterns do we need to hold about ourselves in order to lead a truly successful and fulfilled life?
- I was talking about beliefs on a Facebook live broadcast once, and this really hit home with a lot of people.
- As I said earlier, you can tell someone's beliefs when you hear them say “I am..” statements. Like, “I am good at writing”.
- The one thing that really hit home with a lot of people is the belief “I am worthy”, so that core belief is really essential.
- Think of your beliefs as being like a tree. Your core beliefs are the tree trunk and your ancillary beliefs are the branches.
- If you take a moment after this and just say this statement to yourself, “I am worthy”, cognitive dissonance kicks in and begins to kick out the old belief.
- If you can change that and believe that you are worthy, you will change everything for you. It won't happen overnight but it will happen and will underpin so many other beliefs.
Obviously, we need to have positive beliefs but it's no use becoming disillusioned or being overconfident in our beliefs, or believing that we are the ‘best in the world' and can do anything. Where do we draw the line?
- This is where the evidence side of the equation comes in.
- Remember a new belief starts with a perception, for example “I am the best entrepreneur in the world” and we have to look for evidence and be realistic.
- This isn't about blowing smoke up your arse.
- It's about your goals. When you have a goal in life, like “being the best entrepreneur in the world”. What beliefs do you need to hold to reach that goal? For example, “I am good with technology” or “I am good at making money”, etc.
- With a big, audacious and over-the-top belief like “I am the best entrepreneur in the world”, there are lots of smaller beliefs that make up that big one.
- Then you ask if this is a realistic goal or is it true to yourself?
- Remember, all you really need to be is the better version of yourself. Or a better version than you were yesterday.
- Your beliefs should always be based on YOURSELF, not other people. If you want to be the “best in the world” at something, that requires you to look at other people. And that's not as good for you. That's what pulls us down.
- Just focus on being the best possible version of yourself.
What are the top 3 things we should do next?
- Really look at your beliefs in each different area of your life. For example in your business, career, relationships, health, hobbies, finances, etc. Assess your empowering and disempowering beliefs in each of those areas.
- Take action every day on changing a particular belief. Look at one underpinning belief, like “I am worthy”. Look for the evidence that you are worthy because everybody in the world is, but you have to take action and prove it to yourself.
- Set up some kind of empowering routine. I have a morning routine, where I get up early, brush my teeth, have a shower, take the dog for the walk, drink a couple of glasses of water, do meditation and write down positive quotes. Incorporate this process of transforming beliefs into your morning routine and it can change your life.
And into the quickfire round…
What is the best self-development advice you've ever received from someone else?
- “Help others to get what they want in their life and you'll get what you want” – Zig Ziglar
Can you give us a personal ‘habit’ or personality trait that you think contributes to your success?
- Definitely the morning routine. That's changed everything for me.
This podcast is all about building a more successful life. What does SUCCESS mean to you?
- Being a better version of yourself than you were yesterday.
Where can we find out more about you?
- Visit Steven's blog “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life” at StevenAitchison.co.uk.
- Find Steven's training programs at: http://changeyourthoughts.mykajabi.com/
- Find MindTree at: https://mindtreetv.mykajabi.com/p/111-daily-life-lessons