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How Beliefs Take Root in Our Mind
by Sean Stephenson

Expected to die at birth, Sean Stephenson, author of Get Off Your "But": How to End Self-Sabotage and Stand Up for Yourself reached a height of only three feet, and is permanently confined to a wheelchair. At the age of nine, he found the purpose to his life after suffering a fracture that wouldn’t have even bruised the average child.

His mother then asked, “Sean, is this going to be a gift or a burden?” Her question set him free, and the answer fueled a quest to show the world that we choose whether every moment is a gift or a burden.

Here's a visual for how a belief works.

Imagine an an acorn. Can you see it?

A thought is like that acorn. By itself, it is a solid little object that can't do much.

If you keep it in a tin can, it will never grow. But if you plant it in soil and give it the right amount of sun, nutrients, and water, it will sprout roots and grow into a huge oak tree.

In order for a thought to become a belief, it has to be nurtured by evidence that proves its own existence. With each piece of evidence, it sprouts a root, and its foundation grows stronger. Soon, that thought -- true or false -- becomes a sturdy belief planted in your mind, growing stronger every day.

Beliefs aren't inherently bad or good. They are just "gofers" for whatever we want to bring into our reality. If we ask our belief that we are beautiful, for example, to go gather evidence to support it, it will find every shred of proof it can to convince us that we are beautiful. That's empowering! Unfortunately, it will do the same for the limiting belief that we are unattractive.

The quality of your beliefs and the self-talk that supports those beliefs determine the quality of your emotions. If you spend your time proving that you're ugly, dumb, not supposed to be wealthy, and defective, I promise you that your emotional state is going to be depressed and angry, and all your negative self-talk will create a terrible state of mind.

To counter the emotional pain this causes, many of us turn to immediate gratification -- food, alcohol, drugs, and so on. But none of those gratifiers give us lasting satisfaction.

Lasting gratification comes only from growth and contribution. It's only when we work on ourselves and we contribute our resources (time, money, and energy) to the efforts of others or the planet are we truly blessed with lasting gratification.

Make a "Get Off Your BUT" Personal Inventory

Beliefs are so powerful that they determine everything from our daily habits to our long-term goals. Why not discover right now what you really believe about yourself, your body, your job, your relationship, your future? Take out your Get Off Your BUT Now! journal and finish the following statements -- in as much detail as possible -- with whatever comes up for you, no matter how pretty or ugly it may sound.

Men are __________.

Women are __________.

My body is __________.

My career is __________.

My future looks __________.

My partner is __________.

I'm good at __________.

I'm lousy at __________.

People think I am __________.

When I am under pressure, I __________.

The world is __________.

What I love about people is __________.

What I hate about people is __________.

My heart is __________.

Marriage is __________.

Love is __________.

Exercise is __________.

Work is __________.

Life is __________.

Interesting stuff, huh? Writing down what's in our hearts and heads can sometimes be startling to read. The first time I did this assignment, I was shocked to discover what I believed. Fortunately, you can change your beliefs!

You can't change what you won't or haven't acknowledged -- and that's why this exercise is so helpful. Sometimes, simply acknowledging a belief is enough for you to be able to let it go.

If you don't like a particular belief you discovered in this inventory, write about what you do want to believe. Once you've described your new belief in detail, you'll have it in your mind. Then you can begin to find evidence in your life to support that new belief.

Are you beginning to see the value in every word you choose to tell yourself I hope so! Your self-talk creates the map that directs your life. The question is, what route are you mapping out?

We often think that we have to "find" ourselves in life. Yet we don't have to search the world to find ourselves. We create ourselves every moment, and we do so through our language, through what we say to ourselves on a regular basis.

You can't afford to treat yourself as anything less than the coolest person on the planet. Does it seem foreign to speak lovingly to yourself? Try it anyway. I promise, your life will become amazing when you do.

How do I know? Because I vowed years ago to always speak to myself with love and respect, and I am one of the happiest and most peaceful people you'll ever meet. You see, when you combine respectful self-talk with physical confidence (we'll talk about that in the next lesson), people will begin loving and respecting you on a level you never thought possible.

That's right! It's not only how you think about yourself inside that counts. Your confidence also manifests on the outside, in how you carry yourself. In fact, simply by presenting yourself as confident -- no matter how you may feel on the inside -- you will not only convince others; ultimately, you will convince the most important person: yourself.

Excerpted from Get Off Your "But": How to End Self-Sabotage and Stand Up for Yourself by Sean Stephenson. Copyright © 2009 by Sean Stephenson. Reprinted with permission of the publisher, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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