Hello everyone, and welcome to episode 11 of the Conscious Women Entrepreneurs Podcast!
Today I’ll be talking about how our thoughts and beliefs create our reality in practice. You’ve probably heard it a million times; “mindset is everything” – especially if you’re into self-development. According to an article in Psychology today, “A mindset is a belief that orients the way we handle situations—the way we sort out what is going on, and what we should do”. But what about the studies in neuroscience suggesting that only 5% of our cognitive activities (such as decisions, emotions, actions, behaviour) are conscious? When the remaining 95% is generated in a non-conscious manner – how do we improve our mindset, our thoughts and beliefs so that we can make it work in our favour? The answer is self awareness. By becoming aware of our patterns and limiting beliefs, we can improve our mindset and ultimately our life – and that’s largely what this episode will be about.
Seeing as neuroscience suggests that only 5% of our cognitive activities are conscious, and a whopping 95% is generated in a non-conscious manner, we are largely on autopilot. Remember when you first learned how to drive a car? You had to hold in the break, turn on the engine, put the gear into drive, check the mirrors, etc. These days, you’re probably not even thinking of all these steps because you’re embodying it and you just do them automatically. You no longer have to consciously think about each single step – they have graduated to the automatic level, so to speak, or the subconscious mind. This is a great tool for humans as we can now use the capacity of our conscious mind on other tasks. According to social psychologist, Timothy D. Wilson, who wrote the book “Strangers to Ourselves: Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious” the unconscious processing abilities of the human brain are estimated at roughly 11 million pieces of information per second. On the other hand, the conscious processing ability is estimated to be at around only 40 pieces per second. Let that sink in.
The good news is that we can choose what we think about and what we focus on. Tony Robbins has a great little exercise that I invite you to do with me right now (unless you’re driving of course). Here we go: Spend 3 seconds looking around you only focusing on seeing blue things. Now, close your eyes and tell me (or yourself) where the orange bits were while keeping your eyes shut. If you were able to do this exercise you’d realize that because you only focused on blue, your brain filtered out other colors as unimportant. And although the colors were right in front of you – in plain view, your brain didn’t register it for you to consciously notice because you deliberately chose your focus to be on the color blue. Your subconscious would’ve registered it, but unless we use certain techniques, we generally don’t have access to the subconscious mind in the same way that we can easily access info from the conscious mind.
Similarly to this experiment, if we only focus on not being able to grow our practice, you’re stuck, that it’s hard to “find” clients – that is what we will consciously notice and perceive as our reality. Clients most often aren’t found by the way, they’re created, but I’ll save that for another podcast. Our brain is like a scientist. When we have thoughts about our reality, our brain goes to work to support those thoughts and as it gathers evidence, we form a belief around those thoughts. To illustrate this point, let’s say a woman is terrified of flying because she’s afraid it’ll crash. Her brain is now conditioned to notice things in alignment with her thoughts that “flying is dangerous”. She will notice headlines about crashes in newspapers, on the news, overhearing conversations etc. On the other hand, she’s not afraid of driving a car, although objectively speaking, more people die in traffic every year than flying. Her subconscious mind might register headlines about car crashes, but her conscious mind will not. Imagine if we were going around consciously taking into account all the ways we could die each day – we would go insane! If you’re interested in what happens on a neurological level in the brain, when it filters out unnecessary information, you can read the article “This Is How the Brain Filters Out Unimportant Details” in Psychology today. I’ll link to that in the show notes if you’re interested. Also, if you haven’t yet checked out Dr. Joe Dizpenza’s work, I highly recommend you do so, as he explains the science behind how our thoughts create neuro-pathways, which again creates chemicals which in turn affect your body, which affects your mood and personality – and ultimately shapes your reality
However, what we also find in the subconscious mind is all the memories – good and bad. We find limiting beliefs and thought patterns that don’t necessarily serve us anymore. But because they are subconscious, and create automatic responses, we don’t even realize the underlying reason for responding in the way we do all these years after the events happened.
As an example, when you grew up, you might have perceived your dad to be quite scary when he was angry. You developed a coping mechanism to keep a low profile, not make a fuss and always strive to make people around you pleased so that they wouldn’t get angry or aggressive. Your reptilian or primal brain, responsible for survival, drive, and instinct, told you that anger equals danger and should be avoided at all cost – even to the detriment of your other needs and wants. Now you’re all grown up, but you still make decisions from that place because that pattern has become an established neural pathway for your thought – a highway, if you will, that has your thoughts and behaviours follow the programming that is now subconscious. You’re taking action from the mindset that the most important thing is to please those around you. You make up stories that you shouldn’t be asking for a pay rise or a certain amount of money from you clients because that may upset them. More often than not, you’re not consciously aware that this pattern, which, by the way, served you when you were a child and lived at home, is now a belief that is limiting you from earning more or growing your business.
So both of the things I’ve just talked about; how our thoughts get our brains to find evidence to build a belief around those thoughts as well as our past conditioning, both play major roles in our everyday lives. Our filtering processes and our programming from childhood makes up a large part of those 95% of unconsciously determined emotions, decisions, behaviours and actions.
So let’s take a look at how all of this holds true for starting, running and growing your business as well. If we choose to think that opportunities are all around us, that clients are everywhere and that people want what we have to offer, our mind goes out to prove us right and strengthen that belief. Some people might try to argue that to create results we have to do things. That’s absolutely correct, but how we do something is more important than how much we do. Stay with me here. So, I want to run you through a framework that perfectly illustrates how thoughts creates our reality in practice:
We always have a neutral circumstance and we always have thoughts or beliefs about that circumstance based on previous experiences etc. Those thoughts about that circumstance makes us feel certain things about the circumstance and based on that we take certain actions. When we take those actions we get certain results or outcomes. So I’ll run you through two examples so that you fully grasp this concept; the first example shows one of my client’s default patterns. The second example illustrates an intentional pattern, meaning that it is one where she intentionally chooses what to think about a scenario.
Circumstance: Sign clients
Thoughts: I can’t find clients to sign
Feelings: Stuck, insecure, insufficient
Actions: Procrastinate, make excuses, do admin
Outcomes: Don’t reach out to potential clients to see how she can help, doesn’t sign clients
Circumstance: Sign clients
Thoughts: What I offer is super helpful to people and it will help my clients
Feelings: Inspired, motivated, confident, sufficient
Actions: Reach out to people, pitch to get interviewed, write guest blogs
Outcomes: Creates value, is helpful to clients, more people know of her and increase chances of signing clients
As Henry Ford once said: “Whether you think you can or you think you cannot, you’re right”. The framework I just ran you through proves this to a T. Notice how in both examples, the outcomes directly reflected her thoughts. I encourage you to take note of your own behaviour when you’re stressed or overwhelmed. You probably think that “I’ve got way too much to do, I don’t even know where to begin”, so you get on your phone, browse on Instagram, you watch netflix or something along those lines to soothe yourself. Meanwhile, the pile of work isn’t going away, which stresses you further. On the contrary, if you managed your mind, chose intentional thoughts such as “it’s okay to get help, I can delegate some of this, and it doesn’t all have to be done today” or “I’m happy with my own effort if I complete these 3 tasks today, because it’s not humanly possible to do all of this work in one day”. If you choose to think these thoughts instead, you release some of the pressure on yourself and you feel less overwhelmed and more empowered and motivated to do the things. When you do the things, you don’t only get a sense of accomplishment from seeing the pile of work decreasing, you feel even less stressed and more motivated to continue. The result is that you get a whole lot more done simply by changing your thoughts around a neutral circumstance – in this case: A lot of work to do.
Our work is to overcome our resistance. When we set a goal, our mind will serve up a plethora of excuses as to why it won’t work for us to achieve those goals. I’ll create an episode on this as well, but to give you a quick summary; we need to show our mind, or our internal parts, that are in opposition to getting these results, how it is, in fact, possible. We have to prove the part of us that thinks we can’t – wrong. How we actually have what it takes, that by leaning on our previous accomplishments, our skills, expertise, our network and our desire, we will get there.
A lot of my clients get frustrated because they think “I thought I had worked through this by now”, but I want to remind you that our brain functions much like muscles. If you want a fit body, you have to exercise regularly. Similarly, our mind will offer up thoughts around our patterns over and over again. However, the more we practice managing our minds by intentionally choosing the thoughts we want to focus on, the easier and faster we will center back into our desired state and manifest the desired results.
I hope you enjoyed this episode and that you learned something new. I love to connect with you all, so let me know what your biggest take-aways from this episode are! Take a screenshot of this podcast episode and tag me in an instagram story – my handle is @martinethomassencoaching. I’ll see you next week!
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