Friday, April 23, 2010

Are Your Beliefs the True Barriers to Your Success? Unlocking Your Mental Filing Cabinet

Humans have a limited capacity for processing information. So that means that in any moment there is simply too much going on in the immediate environment to process. What reaches our consciousness is only a fraction of what we take in. We are selective out of necessity and we don’t see things as they really are, but rather as we are. So things that are relevant to the beliefs we have about ourselves, and others, and the world pop out from a sea of other information. This is a selective process that occurs outside of our awareness to spare us from feeling overwhelmed.

So there is some information that we are totally unaware of being stored away. Beliefs about the way things are or should be, or about our own abilities can be filed away, but remain an enduring influence on our thoughts and actions.

One way of finding out what you have been subconsciously filing away is to ask yourself what your beliefs are about a particular topic and then force yourself to keep coming up with answers until you have exhausted the in- tray and you are forced to access your locked filing cabinet.

It’s no secret that the process of doing a PhD has been as much about self discovery for me as it has been a quest for the truth about emotional processing. So I want to know if my unconscious beliefs are a help or hindrance to my success.

To access my mental filing cabinets and to discover what my beliefs are about my abilities to finish my PhD I have forced myself to come up with a list of 21 responses to the following statement:

Regarding my abilities to succeed and finish my PhD I believe that:

1. I can do it

2. I am smart enough

3. Maybe I’m not good enough

4. I don’t deserve to do well

5. I have to persist

6. I am weak

7. I block my abilities

8. I constantly put obstacles in my way

9. I can do it

10.I want to do it

11. I can’t do it alone

12.I need other people’s help

13. On my own I will not succeed

14. I must be independent

15. I must do it on my own

16. I won’t succeed unless I do it all myself

17. I fear involving others because they will find out my flaws

18. I hold on to the idea of perfection

19. I have to lose the idea of perfection to succeed

20. I need to put that energy into doing the work and assembling the team to ensure my success

21. I can do it.

What I have come up with although conflicting at times shows me that I already know that I need help to succeed, but that I resist it because I want to maintain a facade of perfection.

Some of my beliefs are affecting the way I am doing the work of my PhD. I find this information both surprising, and very useful.

It is only through the conscious mind that we can reach the unconscious beliefs that drive our behaviours.

What’s in your mental filing cabinet?

Hat Tip to Karen McCreadie for her 52 Brilliant Ideas Interpretation of Napolean Hill's Think and Grow Rich (2008) Woodlands Press
Image from WeHeartIt


Lynne Walker said...

So true. We all need to re-examine from time to time. Thanks for the reminder.

Mrs Macnaughty said...

Pursuit of perfection is futile. It would be easier to be brilliantly unique, which obviously you are. Don't stop believing that is the essential ingredient! Good luck in pursuit of perfection-ness.

Katherine Jenkins said...

I think my mental filing cabinet is jumbled with info...bits and and there. I also do this. I go through periods of sheer enthusiasm and then fall into utter despair. But somewhere in the middle, some part of me that isn't riding this roller coaster, is calm and moves along at a steady pace. I think you have this in you too. You will get your PHD, in fact you already have. The intention was already set, now you are just laying down the tracks. Your mind will play all sorts of tricks on you, but you are progressing. I have no doubt you will get your PHD and go on to do more amazing things! Thought-provoking post!

Heather Conroy said...

@ Lynne- we do need to reexamine don't we- sometimes I get stuck in auto pilot and the remedy is to question and bring the source of my actions into consciousness.

@ Mrs McNaughty (love the name :)) I have never looked at perfection as the opposite of being unique- but you are so right! Another reason to shed the idea of perfection. Thanks!

@ Katherine- I too am aware of my calm self in amongst the other distractions. Bringing these distractions and obstacles to light is helpful for taking their power away. Thanks for your belief in me :)

marci-me said...

Love the idea of reaching one's locked filing cabinet Heather!
- its similar to the method of Conflict transformation - get past the "hardened, weather worn official positions" and find out your real needs, interests and beliefs...