Are you familiar with Joseph McClendon III? One of the most powerful things I’ve learned from him recently is that our thoughts (about anything) influence how we feel about that thing. And how we feel about it, influences what we will do about it. And what we do about it influences what we have and experience regarding it. I learned this in a recent workshop he did and it really is shifting how I use my mind.
What I know for sure is that much of how we relate to life in the present, is due to beliefs we established primarily in childhood AND during momentous events in the past. It amazes me how something as simple as a bully smacking an ice cream cone from your hand at 6 years old, can cause you at 66 to still believe, “I can never have good things.”
The reality is that conclusions drawn between birth and 7 years old (about who we are, how people treat us, how life works, etc.) become lifelong beliefs, unless we become aware of them and intentionally shift them. As a result of one unexpected incident, we begin a pattern of thought. Then we begin to unknowingly look for evidence to prove that conclusion is true.
The way our brains are wired, we will always find the evidence we are looking for. And typically because we find circumstance after circumstance which aligns with our belief, we become certain that we believe is absolutely true.
But what many of us don’t know is that the brain has something called the reticular activating system. This is the brain’s way of helping us focus on what’s important to us and ignore the things that aren’t. For example, if you have your eye on a certain car—maybe you just purchased it or it’s just your favorite car—suddenly everywhere you go you see that car. It’s not that suddenly everyone chose to like the car you do, it’s that the reticular activating system is helping you notice the type of car that you told your brain is important. So now you are more aware of their presence. Other types of cars are still present, but your brain is highlighting the car you made important. Your favorite car was always present, but your thoughts about it trained your brain to focus on it.
The same thing happens with our beliefs. If we believe “everybody mistreats me,” we begin to only notice the times we are mistreated. We don’t pay as much attention to all the other people and times that we are treated well. Our brain helps us find evidence to match our thoughts… our beliefs…
This is a good time for a sidebar. Abraham-Hicks gives the best definition of what beliefs are (in my opinion). They say that “a belief is just a thought you keep thinking.” So if we think a thought enough times—and our reticular activating system keeps only showing us evidence to support it—we begin to believe that the thought is true. So whether your belief is “all women are gold diggers,” or “all men are dogs,” or “children aren’t safe around gay people,” or “Black people steal,” or “white people can’t be trusted,” or “bad things always happen to me,” whatever those beliefs are merely started with a thought that was repeated until it became a belief.
So the good thing to know about this is that if our beliefs are merely thoughts we keep thinking, until our brain begins to help us prove it with evidence… we can change our beliefs by thinking new, more empowering thoughts. And we can begin to look for evidence to support our new beliefs and eventually our brain will catch on a do the same!
So presently the belief I keep thinking—that I established in childhood—is “everybody gets to have that but me,” and its twin “everybody gets to do that but me.” And one other that, “no one is going to help me.” Throughout my life, I have found so much evidence to support these unhelpful beliefs. However, as I think about shifting beliefs, I realize that these are just thoughts that I have been thinking since childhood. I can create a new habit of thinking otherwise and looking for evidence to support these new beliefs.
That’s essentially how affirmations work. This is why my children’s book, I’m Proud to Be Natural Me! has been so powerful for so many children. By reading empowering words repeatedly, with emotion, we are able to establish new belief systems. As children read, “I’m proud to be natural me,” over and over again while experiencing the uplifting story, they begin to see for themselves that they can be proud of their natural beauty.
We can shift our own beliefs by creating new patterns of thought and attaching positive emotions to them. What if you chose an empowering phrase to say each morning while you dance to your favorite song? What if every day, first thing when you wake up, you smile at the ceiling for 2 minutes while thinking, “I love myself,” or repeat in your mind, “If anyone gets to have it, so do I,” for a full minute every day at 2:22pm? Imagine if you did that for the rest of this month, or for 21 days, or for life. Do you think it might have an impact?
We can create new habits of thought, the same way we created the old ones. It helps if we choose affirmations that are not too far from our present reality, then work our way toward the truth we desire.
I know I’ve made the mistake MANY times of creating an affirmation that feels so false that it’s annoying to repeat it. When I’ve got a dollar in my account and about to run out of gas it’s hard to keep affirming, “I am rich.” But I can affirm, “This is temporary.” I can affirm, “More money always comes.” I can affirm, “Life gets to be better than this for me.” I can affirm, “I am worthy of the abundance I desire.” Then, I can begin to look for evidence that I get to have the desires of my heart.
As I am writing this, these words are ministering to me. I have been struggling with my finances from as far back as not being able to buy “penny candy” in grade school, to not being able to visit Yvonne Livingston LLC (my business partner) a week ago because I didn’t have enough gas. It is empowering for me to see that I can use what I know to get my mind to believe what I need it to in order to shift my life. Shifting my thoughts eventually shifts what I have. So I am choosing to ACTIVELY believe that and begin by doing one of the exercises I stated above to shift my beliefs about how life works for me.
As we shift our thoughts, we’ll shift our feelings. And as we shift our feelings, we’ll shift what we’re doing. And as we shift what we’re doing, we’ll shift what we’re having and experiencing. I’m ready to shift what I’m having and experiencing. Maybe you are, too.
Will you join me in actively shifting to more empowering thoughts? I believe it will be a gamechanger for you and me.
Marlene Dillon Empowerment Specialist
Co-Founder of SISTAMoms
Author of I’m Proud to Be Natural Me!
Owner of MDillon Designs & Publishing
I appreciate you!
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