Your mind cannot be trusted.
Once upon a time, I used to be a worm. Undeveloped, fragile, arrogant and depressed. I was a maggot. Nobody wanted to be near me, and hell, I didn’t even want to be near myself. Attempted suicides, an erratic mind and no hope; I had nothing going for me, til’ I changed my life. How? Simple, I learned how to overcome myself; I learned how to overcome my excuses, my bullshit attitude and my own toxic and self-destructive behaviour. I learned to question my beliefs, my thoughts, my actions and my perceptions. This continual analysis allowed me to begin revealing my true nature, well, insofar as I could ever possibly observe my true nature…alternatively, if there is a human who possesses a true nature at all. In this essay, I will attempt to communicate why learning to challenge your perceptions, ideas and beliefs are critical to becoming the best version of yourself.
Mindset manifests your life
“Your attitude determines your altitude” - Zig Ziglar”
Your life is a manifestation of your mindset that you hold. If you have the mindset of a loser, you will manifest the life of a loser. If you possess the mindset of an evil person, you will manifest a life of evil. If you have the mindset of a winner, in-time, you will manifest the life of a winner. It is difficult to observe this phenomenon due to the latency that occurs between mindset and manifestation. The mindset you adopt manifests over time. It will manifest slowly, piece by piece, gradually revealing the success your mind is manifesting; everything takes time. This is called the law of attraction; you manifest what you focus on, and what you focus on is determined by your mindset. I first learned about this concept by watching videos of Conor McGregor on YouTube, from before and after he became the 145LB UFC world champion, knocking out the reigning champ who remained undefeated for 10 years. It took him 13 seconds — what a warrior. I will accept his words of wisdom on mindset as gospel, for there is much video evidence of him touting the law of attraction before he got into the UFC and before he became the champion. He is not the only one who preaches mindset and the law of attraction. Many successful people to teach this concept, such as Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey and Will Smith. Maybe they’re onto something, maybe your mindset matters?
If your mindset manifests your life, and if you’ve possessed the same mindset for some time and you’re not making progress in the areas in which you desire, it stands to reason that your mindset is to blame. Mindset manifests action, action affects the physical world; mindset manifests life. Now, before you start shooting off excuses from the hip, stop. Put those excuses in the trash because excuses are a manifestation of a loser mindset; excuses are nothing but a victim mentality…own your shit, even if it’s not your fault (see: Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink). Everyone has one-thousand-and-one reasons for why they can’t do the thing, everyone. Me? What were my excuses? My excuses were that; I have high-functioning Autism, I have ADHD, I had depression, I had severe anxiety, I couldn’t focus, I had no emotional control, I didn’t have any friends, I didn’t have any positive role models, I didn’t get love and support, I had no direction, I had no prior evidence of possessing the capability to achieve anything…the list goes on. Everyone has reasons, and only weak mindsets manifest excuses. If you want to grow as a person, to become the best version of yourself, you must change your mindset, for your mindset manifests your life.
A wise person once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results”. If your mindset manifests your life, and you do not change your mindset, it logically follows that to change your life you must change your mindset. Now, you might be thinking, how can I change my mindset? Glad you asked. Tom Bilyeu once said “Ideas in equals ideas out”; I don’t know if this is scientific, but it makes sense, and it has worked to a significant degree in my own life. It makes sense that you think about what you expose yourself to, and thought is what produces ideas. When I want to change my mindset, I change the information that I am exposed to. For example, if I lack motivation, I will watch gym motivation videos, watch videos about exercise science and watch videos and absorb content regarding nutrition; I also seek inspiration from successful people who have achieved notable things in the sport and athleticism. This programs my mind and thoughts of fitness, bodybuilding and health begin to populate my mind, redirecting my awareness (see: reticular activating system) and thus changing my behaviour. What you are exposed to influences what you think about, how you see the world and what you believe changes your mindset, at least in my experience. Try it, and it might work wonders for you, I know it changed my life. To become the best version of yourself, you must change your behaviour, to change your behaviour you must change your thinking, to change your thinking you must change the information that you expose yourself to.
Another way to modify your thinking is to seek criticism from those around you, for they see you more objectively than you can ever see yourself. We are blinded by ourselves, to ourselves. We all possess blind spots within ourselves (see: cognitive distortions), and these inbuilt perceptual handicaps prevent us from viewing ourselves objectively. An inability to perceive things objectively means that we cannot observe our flaws objectively; how can we improve if we cannot see what needs to be improved? This is where your friends and family come in, and they can provide an increasingly objective view of yourself. If you have friends that genuinely want the best for you, and are not jealous and do not attempt to bring you down to their level, they will be more than happy to offer you words of wisdom in regards to your personal development. Seek their opinion, ask them what you can improve on, and listen to what they have to say; if it makes you uncomfortable, upset or defensive, they have probably struck a nerve. Listen to your friends, for they want what’s best for you, and what is best for you is to hear the truth.
You will resist, you will contest their words for you will vehemently disagree, disagree with conviction. However, your conviction will be justified…justified because you will wholeheartedly believe that the words they speak to be false, for your cognitive distortions, your blind spots, they have prevented you from seeing yourself objectively. This lack of objectivity means that your perceptions of yourself are highly likely to be false and the presentation of alternate perspective(s) will contradict these held perceptions and evoke an emotional reaction; this is natural, it happens to all of us. Remember why we are doing this? We are seeking the opinion of those who see us more objectively than we see ourselves, for they do not answer to your blind spots. After you have overcome this initial discomfort, you will begin to accept their ideas, and thus your thinking will also change too. Those close to you, those who want the best for you, these people harbour a wealth of information about ourselves, but they often keep to themselves for fear of offending. Seek criticism for it will change your thinking, changing your thinking changes your behaviour, and changing your behaviour will change your life. Seek criticism.
Self-reflection is a crucial tool for analysing your own ideas beliefs and perceptions. The narrator inside your head is your enemy, the voice in which you speak to yourself within your mind;…a covert agent. This secret agent is attempting to trick and deceive you at every turn, and you cannot trust the words of which it speaks. The covert agent desires a reconciliation between what you believe and what you act out in the world, and if a misalignment occurs tension arises within the mind (see: cognitive dissonance; psychological tension); if tension occurs, the narrator will make you believe fictions about yourself and the world. For example, if you think that you are a good person but then abuse an innocent person, this will create a state of cognitive dissonance within your body, thus creating tension within your mind. To resolve this psychological tension you must do one of three things; change your perception of the event (e.g. she deserved it), change your beliefs (abusing innocent people is ok) or to change your actions (I swear never to do this again for I know it to be wrong). The narrator is a threat to your objective view of yourself, it will distort how you perceive reality so that your actions and your beliefs are aligned, providing a secure sense of self. This battle is not lost however, the most effective weapon against this covert operative is reason. The narrator, the covert agent within your mind cannot overcome reason, for rationale, is but an ocean to a forest fire.
Against this threat, presence is the first line of defence, for without presence you cannot observe the ideas, beliefs and perceptions that the narrator propagates. To observe your thoughts is prerequisite for critical self-reflection; the beginning of the battle for reason in the campaign of reason. This critical reflection of your thoughts will allow you to question why you believe things, and whether it makes sense to think that way. The strength of the arguments presented by your internal self-talk is determined by two things; logical consistency and evidence. Examine your ideas, beliefs and perceptions and cast judgement on them. Do they make sense? What evidence supports them? How do you know that you’re not being biased? What makes you so sure that you’re right? A slew of questions, necessary for this campaign against your own mind…the trickster. This threat of internal deception is why you should constantly question what the narrator in your mind says to be true if you wish to become the best version of yourself. How can you identify faults, flaws and shortcomings if you are entangled in a web of self-deception? Question everything, your mind cannot be trusted.
In this paper, I have argued that it is critical to your personal development to challenge your ideas, beliefs and perceptions. I have argued that your mindset manifests your life as your mindset is comprised of the ideas that you hold, your beliefs and your perceptions, and in order to create a mindset that is conducive to personal development you must change the information that you are exposed to. I have also argued that another method of challenging your ideas, beliefs and perceptions is to seek criticism from those around you as they can see you more objectively than you will ever be able to see yourself. Lastly, I’ve argued that self-reflection is paramount to challenging your ideas, beliefs and perceptions so that you can become the best version of yourself. I hope that I have convinced you that the ideas, beliefs and perceptions that you hold may not be as reliable, true and concrete than you may think, and these things comprise your mindset, and your mindset manifests your life. In order to change your life you must change your mindset and to change your mindset you must challenge these ideas, beliefs and perceptions that you hold.