Beliefs – the bedrock of our behaviours

August 14th 2021

Our beliefs are fundamental in creating our thoughts and feelings - but they can be changed and this simple exercise shows you how.


"Performance is 30% physical and 70% mental but we dont look after them in those ratios. " Greg Rutherford, Olympic long jump gold medalist 2012

"By the time you get here, it's all about what is going on in your head." Tom Daly, 4 x Olympic medalist

It has been wonderful to hear so many top athletes talk about their mental health throughout the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Most of these athletes will be using techniques such as visualisation – a simple technique that literally creates mental programmes through thought alone.

However the one thing I have heard so many of them talk about is their beliefs – that they never stopped believing that they could be an Olympian.

We may not all have that dream but beliefs are at the foundation of many of the things we do – good or not so good!

So here is a really easy activity for you to change your beliefs that can either help overcome challenges or to take you up to the next level of performance too.

Taking action!

Step One: Be specific on what you want to change.  It may be giving up smoking, losing weight, stopping procrastinating….Or relaxing more, reigniting a hobby, getting fitter.

Step Two: With this focus in mind, write down all the thoughts that arise when you have this focus.

Here is an example:

Focus: I want to change jobs

Thoughts: I am not good enough.  I will get anxious in the interview and look stupid.  I am too old to change jobs now.

And just keep going….

And here is the fun bit....

Step 3:  Now beside each thought, write the opposite.

Example: I am good enough.  I am ace at interviewing.  I am never too old to change jobs.

Step 4:  Keep repeating these new beliefs to yourself over and over again.

But I feel silly!!!

Initially, there will be resistance.  There will be a part of your mind calling you out as a liar.  However what you are telling yourself is nothing more than a story and your mind is listening!  So tell it a different story and it will listen to that.  And the more you tell it, the more it takes the story on board until that story – that belief – becomes the top story.

You may have heard of this expression.  It epitomises this activity.  You keep pretending it is true until one day, it actually is.

“It cannot be that easy.”

“I will feel silly.”

“You can’t change your beliefs.”

These are all things that I have heard people say and may be going through your head too.  And the irony is – they are just more beliefs, more stories.  It really can be that easy.  No-one knows you are doing it so you needn’t feel silly.  And yes, we change our beliefs about things all the time – you just change the story!

Alternatively, therapists (of all varieties) can help you change deeply embedded beliefs so please do reach out if you would like more help.

What beliefs could you change that will change your life???

Caroline Cavanagh is an anxiety specialist  and hypnotherapist in Salisbury, Wiltshire.  She is an author and public speaker and would love to talk to you if you would like to know more about her work.

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