The Mind Lab: How Thoughts Become Beliefs
Excerpt from The Mind Lab by Sarah Centrella
Here's How Thoughts Become Beliefs
Let’s back up and talk about the origin of our deepest, most common negative thoughts, our subconscious beliefs. It took me a long time to understand the concept and process of embedded beliefs and why they play such a critical role in how we’ve manifested our current reality. The tricky thing about these beliefs is that you’re most likely not even aware they exist! Talk about annoying. And what’s worse, they are often the opposite of what we think we believe. In other words, they are tricky little fuckers! There is nothing worse than working your tail off to get a result, when all the while your subconscious does not believe that result is even possible. When this happens you will always manifest the result that aligns with the belief, and not the effort. And let me tell you from a lot of personal experience… THAT SUCKS.
It’s so important that we align our beliefs with our actions, so they are both pointing in the same direction. When they are in sync, we get our desired result. When they are in conflict, or going in opposing directions, all the effort in the world won’t deliver our ultimate desired result.
What happens when our beliefs and actions are in conflict?
EXAMPLE: I learn best through examples, so you’ll get lots of them throughout this book.
All my life I told myself that no matter what I did, I would never lose weight. This proved itself true, on loop. I’d hire a trainer, a nutritionist, I’d starve myself, I’d go on Atkins, I’d run a marathon, I’d do Keto… and I never lost any measurable weight. I told myself this story every time I tried something new, and every time I quit it, and the outcome always matched my belief, regardless of my considerable efforts. Until one day a few years ago when I heard myself say it. I mean, I really HEARD it. I was like, “Hold up! You KNOW the power of your words; you coach this stuff! Why are you still saying this?” That belief was so deeply embedded that I’d convinced myself it was a simple fact. For me, it was a fact. I’d proven the belief correct so many times, that it baffled every professional I hired! So, that day I started using Mental Tennis and Power Mottos (you’ll learn them soon) to change the belief. I started by saying, “The weight just falls off! I can’t believe it was so easy! My body responds so quickly to the work I put in.” And… no lie, the weight began to fall off. I lost 25 pounds over the next year by walking 20 minutes a day and saying my mottos. That btw was WAY easier than training for 8-months to run a marathon, just sayin’.
My belief was headed in one direction and my effort and desire were headed the other way. The two were in conflict, so it was impossible to get my desired result until I lined them both up in the direction of my desire. In other words, I told myself the outcomes I WANTED on repeat, every single day until I believed them. AKA I changed my thoughts from, “I can’t lose weight.” To, “I can lose weight.” And repeated it so often that soon my brain was replacing the old belief with the new, once the new one took root, the results began to match. I was doing my walk and telling myself the whole time that my body was responding quickly. For the first time in my life, the effort and belief were working together, instead of against each other, so the results followed.
How Beliefs Work
The foundation for our beliefs begins when we are very young, they are comprised of what we hear and see in our environment, the media, and from those around us, among other things. And as we grow, they become solidified by the voice in our head repeating things we’ve seen and heard, and then we unconsciously internalize all those voices, turning them into personal labels, our identity, and descriptions of who we are.
Let’s start with a simplistic example. Imagine that when you were five years old, you heard your parent tell you and everyone you knew, that you were clumsy because you tripped on your shoelace a few times. To them, this is no big deal, and it may not have even registered with you, but a few years later when your middle school basketball coach sees you trip off the bus, he calls you clumsy and everyone laughs, people at school start calling you the klutz. And soon you’ve created the self-identity that you’re clumsy and bound to embarrass yourself in some horrific way at any moment. You now believe this is something you have no control over, it just is what it is, you’re clumsy. This belief is played repeatedly in your head (repetitive thoughts) in all kinds of situations where you fear a greater potential for embarrassment. Those thoughts say things like, you’re too clumsy to dance, you’ll trip and fall or stomp on your partner's toes, so you don’t dance at prom. Later, you’re afraid to eat on a date because you’re clumsy. You tell people you’re a klutz in hopes they won’t mock you too much if you make a huge fool of yourself. And on the cycle goes throughout your life, impacting your decisions, your actions, and shaping your identity.
This example is simplistic I know, but what happens when your parent, sibling, teacher, or some other influence in your young life tells you that you’re worthless, stupid, bad with money, a mess, unlovable, do don’t deserve something you want, you’re ugly or fat, told you to shut up and be quiet? You know what that’s like, because we were all told things like this growing up, by someone. And don’t worry, this isn’t a blame game, but I do what you to understand the origin of how beliefs get so imbedded into our subconscious that they become the driving force behind how we operate, they impact our decisions, and our actions, and in many cases become our very identity.
A slow transformation takes place over time, that can turn someone’s off-handed comment (or mean-spirited one) into our identity. It happens slowly through our process of absorbing and internalizing what was said, in other words, by us thinking about it. The more we mull it over, wonder if it’s true or not, obsess over it, or generally give it energy, the more it sticks. Now remember, for most people all of this is happening without their conscious involvement or understanding of the long-term consequences. It’s essentially a little script (or internal conversation) running soundlessly in the background of our minds. As this idea begins to settle in (we stop actively rejecting it), our brain starts looking for more examples to prove our new belief correct. That’s how the kid who thinks they are clumsy, will trip on the dancefloor at prom. The beliefs become the reality.
It’s intense, I know. But don’t worry, we can’t do anything about all the things we’ve heard, been exposed to, were told, or observed throughout our lifetime, that is the past, and we can’t change it. So, we give it grace. The best news of all is that what you’ll learn in this book will help you identify and change those beliefs that aren’t serving you and teach you how to create new ones that absolutely will.
Think of our beliefs as the root system of a giant oak tree. Without the roots, the tree can’t stand. Healthy roots mean a healthy tree. Our beliefs are holding up the whole operation, they are driving our thoughts, which fuel our actions and deliver results.
Beliefs + Thoughts + Actions = Results
So, how do we change beliefs that are not serving us? First, we need to know what those negative beliefs are, we need to do a little digging to encourage our subconscious to let us in on that little secret. You’ll learn how to do that in our next chapter. And then, we need to change our thinking, because repetitive thinking is what establishes new consciously created beliefs. You’ll learn how to do that using Mental Tennis, Power of Pause, and Power Mottos in the coming chapters.
Your Mind Lab begins now.