by Marcia Wieder
Everyone has attitudes and beliefs about the aspects of their lives. Your opinions are long-term parts of who you are: if you're 30 years old they've been developing for 30 years; if you're 40 they've been evolving for 40 years. Attitudes and beliefs are not always negative and not always barriers to achieving what you want; even if they are, fear not, it's possible to use them to your advantage.
The decisions and choices you make ultimately result from the attitudes and beliefs you hold about everything in your life. The process looks like this:
Attitudes & Beliefs
Thoughts & Feelings
Choices & Decisions
Attitudes and beliefs are at the core of how you react in the world. No matter how or why you developed them, it's crucial that you take responsibility for them, and that you evaluate them honestly. In my workshops I often ask, "How many people believe they can make their dreams come true?" A few hands go up.
Then I ask, "How many believe it's possible
to make your dreams come true?" Most hands go up.
"So what will it take to move you from possible to probable?" I ask.
Then I inquire, "Who's living in the home of their dreams, driving the car of their dreams, is in the relationship or job of their dreams?" Sadly, few respond favorably.
If you believe it's possible to make your dreams come true, yet you don't do it, there's a gap between where you are and where you want to be. This gap is comprised of your beliefs and attitudes. The bigger the negative beliefs, the wider the gap.
Some attitudes and beliefs are positive and supportive of the overall dream, and you can use them to get what you want. However, your negative attitudes and beliefs may become obstacles to achieving your dream. For example, you may believe you can't have what you want, or you can only get a portion of it, or that getting what you want will create more problems so it's better not to try. You might think that you're facing barriers you can't move beyond: your gender, your height, your lack of education, your paltry work experience.
Whether your attitudes and beliefs are positive or negative, it's much more effective to deal with them now than later. Those opinions that are positive are your allies; they're on your side
as you design the life you want. Those that are negative can sabotage you, especially if they're perceived as the biggest part of where you are now
, or if they get inserted into your dream.
Unexamined negative attitudes can become bigger than your dream, and turn into insurmountable obstacles after you're already on the road to what you want. If that happens, and you're stopped en route, you're unlikely to reach your dream. Alternatively, negative attitudes and beliefs don't have to be as menacing as they may seem at first. After all, each of your beliefs is just one of many; no single one of your beliefs controls your whole life. If you confront and handle those attitudes now, they can be used effectively to propel you toward where you want to be.
Here's a laundry list of attitudes and beliefs I hear most frequently:
- I don't have the time, the resources, the skills, and the knowledge;
- I'm not successful enough, not good enough;
- I'm too young, too old, too resistant to change, etc;
- I'm in the wrong geographical location;
- I don't have any knowledge in that area;
- I missed my opportunity years ago;
- My energy is too low;
- It's too hard, too technical for me;
- I don't think I can learn what I need to know;
- I don't trust myself or anyone else;
- I worry about what others will think;
- I don't believe it's possible, so why bother?
In an uneven economy the attitude I hear expressed most often is, "I don't have the finances to handle it." Frequently, however, the very people who express reservations based on their finances are the ones who can't afford to stay where they are. From an economic perspective, they would benefit from making a change.
The important element is not that you have attitudes and beliefs; it's how you use them. Do your beliefs empower or impede you? Whose beliefs are you buying? What's stopping you from going for your dreams? Anything and everything you want is no more than a belief away.
When something happens in any kind of situation, the results can be interpreted negatively or positively. Defining something as a good attitude
or a bad attitude
doesn't make it good or bad. It's just an interpretation, and interpretation depends on beliefs and attitudes.
There are many ways to look at the same incident. An old Chinese story tells about a young man who falls off a horse and breaks his leg. Initially everyone interpreted the incident as negative; then war broke out and the young man was unable to serve in the army because of his broken leg. Was the accident then good or bad?
If a member of your staff suddenly seems to be doing ineffective work, it could be interpreted as the employee's lack of interest and general unhappiness. On the other hand, maybe the employee is dealing with a problem at home, or is concerned about job stability. Which interpretation is correct? In this case, inaccurate interpretations can be avoided by communication. Ask the employee what's going on; create a dialogue so you don't have to guess about someone else's behavior.
You can learn to use interpretations to empower you by getting accurate information, and by thinking of outcomes in positive terms. If you believe there are opportunities in everything that happens, the possibilities will appear everywhere. If you take the attitude that you'll believe it when you see it
, chances are you'll never see it. This is an important point; don't just slide over it!
Here's how your beliefs can empower or impede you in moving toward your dream. If you see your beliefs as obstacles, they will trip you up or keep you from stepping out into your dream. However, if you use your beliefs as tools to help you achieve your dreams, you transform them into stepping stones. Now your beliefs have become the bridge that allows you to move easily from where you are to where you want to be. Will you use your beliefs as barriers or stepping stones? You decide.