Your self-belief is an important factor in crafting a life you love says Graham Price
What would it take for life to be amazing all, or at least most, of the time? As a psychologist I’ve given this a great deal of thought. My working life is divided between helping those whose lives fall well short of this ideal and helping others whose lives could be described as satisfactory, or better than satisfactory, but who could still benefit from gaining more out of life. The former group might be described as those seeking therapy and the latter as those who could benefit from coaching or life-skills training.
Have you ever wondered how you might choose to think and behave if we had the ability to make that choice, all the time? Perhaps you’d choose to be super confident, highly achieving and successful. Maybe you’d choose to be a free spirit, develop your talents and lead a life of passion. Perhaps you’d choose to focus on relationships, revel in your freedom and enjoy life to the full. Or would you see your role as one of contribution, creating a better world, making your life and the lives of your family and others more satisfying and fulfilling? Perhaps you’d choose all those things.
The key question isn’t what we’d choose. The more important question is: are we making that choice? And if not, is that because we don’t have the ability to? Or is it because we don’t realise, or don’t believe, we have that ability?
Most of us have at least some limitations in our abilities and self-beliefs and hence in the ways we think and behave. We’re not born with these limitations. We develop them, partly through the influence of our culture, elders and experiences of life, but primarily, and surprisingly to most, through our behaviour. But the process by which we developed them can be reversed. The role of therapy, coaching and life-skills training is to contribute to that reversal.
How much time have you spent in your life thinking about who you are, who you’d like to be, what limitations might be preventing you from crossing that divide and what you’d need to do to unwind those limitations and make your life amazing? By my early 20s the amount of time I’d spent thinking about these things was probably zero. I’d been doing what most people spend their whole lives doing. Living on auto pilot. Living life the best way I knew how. Trying to make the most of the opportunities that life presents. Dealing with, and coping with, and sometimes struggling with, challenges that life throws in our path. Allowing life’s experiences to create the skills, abilities and limitations that naturally arise from those experiences.
Had I ever thought about consciously intervening in, and taking control of, this process? No. Had I ever thought it might be possible to do so? No. Had the culture I grew up in (a British middle-class culture), or my education, ever encouraged me to think about these things? No. I decided to do something about this. I took time out to think about life. I did a lot of thinking, reading, listening and challenging my thoughts and behaviour.
Around that time, I had a stroke of good fortune. I learned something that, for the first time, gave me one ability to take control of the way I thought. I learned about the power of ‘accepting what is’ and so how to eliminate negative thoughts about the past and present. I learned how to also apply acceptance to aspects of the future that I couldn’t immediately control, and so how to eliminate worry. And I learned how to apply acceptance to uncomfortable feelings, and so how to act more powerfully in situations where uncomfortable feelings had been limiting my behaviour.
The result was a significant change. I became much more confident, acquired greater self-belief, developed new abilities, removed many limitations and started to take more control of my thinking, feelings and behaviour. These changes initially drove development of a successful corporate career and later a change of profession to becoming a psychologist. Still later they led me to develop a life-skills training and a new therapy that have since had a major impact on tens of thousands of lives. Free access to the life-skills-training for Executive Assistants is mentioned under ‘About the author’.