THE BLOG

Are You a Mean Cow?

19/08/2013 12:12 BST | Updated 16/10/2013 10:12 BST

Are you a mean cow... to yourself?

It will come as no surprise how seemingly insignificant events and comments can fundamentally change the course of our lives.

One of my clients, Jess, allowed me to share how she has gone through her life truly believing she is not good at anything. After much exploration we uncovered how a netball game in Year 3 led to this belief: "I remember the teacher shouting at me as I caught the ball in the wrong hand. From memory I still really enjoyed netball up to that point. I guess I interpreted that moment as 'I'm not good at sport'. My interest in sport declined and I eventually purely focused on my academics".

In that moment Jess unknowingly interpreted this moment as I am not good at sport. Which eventually expanded into I'm not good at anything. Now this may seem like a far-fetched conclusion that Jess made about herself, but the reality is that we are making these interpretations about ourselves subconsciously every day.

Our perception of the world is shaped by our background, experiences, education, culture and assumptions. Everyone lives in their own unique version of reality. Small events occur, we interpret these moments and build our own unique perception, personality and beliefs about our abilities.

7 Billion People in the world, 7 Billion unique sets of fingerprints and 7 Billion unique perceptions of the world.

So why are we not able to see the world objectively? The straight forward answer is that at any second, there is too much information coming in through our senses to be able to process all of it.

We are faced with 2 million bits of information per second. Our nervous system, however, can only process 134 bits per second (Flow: The Psychology Of Optimal Experience).

Humans are therefore massive deleters, generalisers and distorters of information. At any second 2 million bits of information is coming our way, yet we are only able take in only 7 chunks (134 bits) of information at a time. So what do we do with the rest?

It all starts with a seemingly insignificant event or comment made by someone. Let's take Jess' teacher. She interpreted this comment in her own unique way. She had hundreds of different options. She could have chosen to think "My teacher thinks I have talent and really wants to help me", or "my teacher is grumpy" or simply "I caught the ball in the wrong hand, next time I will use my other hand". The possibilities of different interpretations are endless. When we are young we do not have the knowledge, emotional intelligence or life experience to make wise interpretations. So we choose to accept others to impose limitations upon us for the rest of our lives. This becomes a subconscious choice.

Once we choose a belief, we spend our lives subconsciously gathering evidence to support this belief. It's as if you are using a torch and continuously shining light on every bit of evidence to support that initial interpretation. Jess would have gathered all the evidence throughout her life to support this belief. After every small mistake she would think "see, I am not any good at this". If something to the contrary of that belief occurs, she would dismiss or delete it as a one-off. If someone paid her a compliment for doing something spectacular, she will distort the messages "that person is just trying to make me feel better". We distort all information to fit into the beliefs that we have formed.

On the flip side, if Jess had the belief that she is absolutely fantastic at everything she does, she would have accumulated the evidence to support his. If she made a mistake, she could have thought "That was a one-off. I'll learn and become even more fantastic". How different do you think her life would have looked if she merely had a different belief?

Become aware of the underlying beliefs on which you operate. Beliefs cause us to see reoccurring patterns of failure or success in certain areas of our lives. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. The good news is that you have a golden opportunity to play at a higher level. You can fundamentally reverse disempowering beliefs and learn to engage your subconscious to take you to levels you have never thought possible. Through helping my clients to become more aware of their underlying beliefs, I've personally witnessed many remarkable life changes.

How do you interpret the events around you? Are your beliefs empowering you to play big?