“Mind over matter.”

“What you think about is what you focus on.”

Have you heard those sayings? It’s true that what we think about tends to be where we focus. In fact, an exercise I frequently assign clients is to write down three things daily that were good that day. By doing this simple exercise, you start training your brain to notice what’s good — and to move away from focusing on what’s wrong.

That’s why people talk about ‘mindset’ and beliefs: because what we think about, what we believe, heavily influences our behavior.

  1. That will never work.

This belief is one that many people don’t even know they have. And it doesn’t matter what the thing is that you don’t believe will work. Because this has lodged in your mind as a ‘can’t do it’, you won’t even try.

It might be starting your own business. “That’ll never work.”

Or dating someone unlike other people you’ve dated. “That’ll never work.”

Considering saving money for a new car. “That’ll never work. I can’t save!”

By ruling it out, you also give yourself permission to do things the same way all of the time. This is one of the many ways people keep themselves stuck and prevent change from happening.

2) I can’t do that.

In psychology, we call this a self-limiting belief. You have set the limits on what you can do and therefore you stop yourself before even trying.

Someone suggests a painting class. “I can’t do that.”

You see a brochure for a tour in Italy. “I can’t do that.”

A friend tells you about a hike she took. “I can’t do that.”

“I can’t do that” is a friend of “That will never work.”

They both want you to have a nice, safe, predictable life. By stopping yourself before you start, you ensure you won’t fail, be embarrassed or have to deal with any uncomfortable feelings.

3) I’m no good at _____________.

Believing you aren’t good at something strips the joy away from that activity. It gives you blanket permission to never get close to some things in life.

Remember in elementary school when everyone loved to color? The joy of swirling crayons onto paper! Entire worlds got packed onto paper. And then one day, someone pointed out that it didn’t look like a dinosaur or that you’d colored out of the lines. And you thought, “I’m no good at coloring.”

“I’m no good at _________” is a blanket statement that holds you back. It keeps you away from the idea that the process can be enjoyed, that the outcome is not the important part; the involvement in it is.

4) I don’t need to try it to know I don’t like it.

Yes, if you have a fear of heights, you already know you don’t want to try bungee jumping. And that’s okay. But this belief can steer you wrong in so many ways!

By believing you already know what you like (especially without trying it!), you have made your world smaller. Now, if you’re like most people, your mind has already rejected this by using an extreme example: I don’t need to eat brains to know I don’t like them! I don’t need to jump off a building to know I won’t like it!

Think smaller: What could you try, what you do to move out of a comfort zone?

Image courtesy of Unsplash

5) It’s okay to fail.

By giving yourself permission to fail, you also give yourself permission to try and to do. You allow yourself the beauty of effort instead of the rigidity of not failing.

Michael Jordan is a great example. So is any entrepreneur who built a business despite the odds. And the kid who keeps laboring over his school project because this time he wants to make it just right.

Permission to fail is directly correlated to a desire to succeed.

6) I can do what I set my mind to do.

This belief is one that most successful people have. It’s about action. It’s about believing in one’s self and having a belief that you can effect change.

When you believe you can do what you set your mind to do, you tend to be more open to trying out more, new, and different experiences. You take the proverbial leap over and over again because you have no fears of failure, and because you know, at some point, what you’re doing will work.

All six beliefs can have a profound effect on how you are in life. They dictate whether you take chances or play it safe.

Originally published at medium.com