An age old adage teaches us that “there is no such thing as reality, only perception”. In other words, our thoughts and beliefs shape our experience of the external world and colour our reaction to a myriad of events and situations. For this reason, thoughts and emotions hold a great deal of power. It is up to us to harness this power for positive results in our personal and professional lives.
Firstly, it is important to recognize the way in which our thoughts and beliefs influence one another and affect our behaviour. For example, a thought, when repeated, often becomes a belief that our mind processes as an indisputable fact rather than a construction.
If one were to have thoughts such as “I am not creative”; “My ideas are not original” and “My colleagues are superior to me”, then one would be likely to believe “Other people have better ideas that I do”. When thoughts become beliefs, it is often difficult for the mind to shake them off and recognize that they are not absolute truths.
That being said, it is important to distinguish between realistic and unrealistic beliefs. If the thoughts “I am not creative”, “My ideas are not original” and the like are the results of conversations you’ve had with your manager or colleagues, it is best to collaborate with them in order to correct the issues you are experiencing in your professional life so that you may become a more productive employee.
If, however, your beliefs are not based in reality and exist solely within your mind, it is important to firstly recognize that these beliefs are unrealistic and secondly, identify the ways in which your unrealistic beliefs are hindering both your work and the productivity of your team as a whole.
If your unrealistic belief is that “other people have better ideas than I do”, then this belief is likely to influence your behaviour. For example, if you believed that “other people have better ideas than I do”, then you may be tempted to remain silent during virtual meeting, preferring to avoid the embarrassment of presenting a “bad” idea.
Further, if you really believe that you are constantly cooking up bad ideas, then you won’t be motivated to put the effort into thinking up good ones. Thus, your negative belief becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and will most likely impact your work and the rest of the team negatively.
If you don’t speak up during a virtual meeting, you are not likely to feel engaged with the team, leading to a decrease in enthusiasm for your job. Likewise, the rest of the team will not feel very engaged with a silent team member and may begin distancing themselves from that individual; perhaps not responding to emails in a timely manner or failing to put any effort into strengthening their relationship with that individual. Furthermore, a virtual manager will begin to wonder whether an excessively quiet team member is losing interest in their work or simply not keeping up to speed with their tasks due to the fact they have little to share at meetings.
Hopefully, by now, it has become apparent that our beliefs have the ability to influence our behaviour to a significant extent. When our beliefs are negative, they are referred to as limiting beliefs, and the above scenario demonstrates the reason for this label; when we allow negative thoughts to invade our minds, we are limited in terms of the contributions we make to personal and professional lives.
Another limiting belief is: “I have so much work to do. The task at hand is so large, that I will never be able to finish it”. This limiting belief will quickly diminish your motivation and increase your stress levels, both of which will lead to a decrease in productivity. Once again, the limiting belief will become a self fulfilling prophecy; because you believe that you cannot complete your work on time, you probably won’t. So, the question remains, how do we conquer limiting beliefs to become happier and more productive in our personal and professional lives?
1) Develop self awareness: It is important to set aside some quiet time to consciously examine your thoughts and beliefs. You must ask yourself: “Do my thoughts tend to be negative? Do I place an inordinate amount of blame on myself for things that don’t go according to plan?” “Do I put myself down while building others up”? The answers to these questions will give you great insight into your thought patterns.
Better yet, when a negative, disturbing thought pops into your head, ask yourself whether you are thinking realistically or buying into a limiting belief.
2) Consciously acknowledge your limiting beliefs: Tell yourself that a particular belief is limiting, but do not blame yourself for having that belief. Instead, let it pass through your mind. Remind yourself that you have strategies for dealing with this potentially destructive belief.
3) Transform your limiting belief into something more realistic and positive.
For example, “Other people usually have better ideas that I do, so I’ll just say quiet” becomes: “Sometimes, other people have better ideas that I do. When this is the case, I will actively listen to their idea and identify what makes it good. I will do this by taking notes. I will transform their good idea into a learning experience. When someone has a better idea that me at work, I benefit because I am able to recognize this fact. This shows me that I am learning and growing professionally. Often, I have good ideas, otherwise, I would not have been hired in the first place.”
“When I have an idea, I will share it. I will have faith in myself. Even if I think my idea is good but others disagree, my team will appreciate the fact I shared my thoughts. My manager will admire the effort I am putting forth. My team will provide me with feedback that will make my idea better”.
In the end, it is very important to recognize that our experience of reality is shaped by our emotions, thoughts, and beliefs, and that we are in control of our emotions, thoughts, and beliefs. We must recognize and acknowledge the negative and unrealistic beliefs that creep into our minds because they have the potential to negatively impact us on a personal and professional level. When we transform our limiting beliefs into positive, realistic beliefs, we become happier workers and this will impact our personal productivity and our relationship with our team as a whole.