Now you’ve identified what you really want out of life by working through Attitude One ‘I Live My Life On Purpose’, it’s time to take your first steps towards making it a reality. This means you’ll need to take control of your thoughts and take responsibility for your own future.
Two of my favourite sayings are “thoughts become things” and “you can never be more than you believe is possible” and here they are especially apt, as the first step for many people is the realisation that there is more going on with their thoughts than they realised.
Did you realise that whatever you focus on expands in your nervous system? It is we alone who will determine whether we will achieve our goals or not and we who decide how we will view the world around us. You have the power to choose your thoughts and whether they will help or hinder you. As hard as it may be to believe at first, nothing exists outside of your own head, so why not make your world a happy, inspiring one?
However, changing your thoughts is more easily said than done, as there are deeply ingrained patterns of thinking (many of which will have been formed before the age of seven) that you will need to get to the root of and eventually replace with more positive and inspiring ones.
How we respond to the information we receive and the thoughts we create as a result of that information is very significant. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow: The Psychology of Optimum Experience, is one of the few people who has analysed the processing power of the brain. In his book, he estimates that our nervous system – through our five senses of sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch – is bombarded by two million bits of data each second of the day. We can only digest a very small percentage of that data.
We filter out the rest of the data by deleting, distorting and generalising information that we ‘don’t need’. It’s as if each of us has a giant sieve in our nervous system and the holes in my sieve are different from yours. Some may overlap and others will be very different. What we delete, distort and generalise depends upon the values and beliefs we have accumulated over the years. We each filter the event through our different belief systems.
Our filters act like a pair of sunglasses, filtering through only those things to which we decide unconsciously to pay attention. For example, if I believe I have a low self-esteem and that I’m not good enough, I will filter out all the times I’ve been successful and only notice the times I haven’t. This is very important as we can create the thoughts we choose. Our map of the world can be changed because we have literally made it up in our heads.
First of all, the brain cannot process negatives; so, when we are told: ‘Don’t think of a blue elephant’, a blue elephant is exactly what we think of. In that moment we focus on the very thing we don’t want, making our nervous system very aware of it. Hence whatever we focus on expands in our nervous system.
So, it’s vital that you focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. Go back and make sure that your goals are about what you want to achieve, and are not negative in any way.
Secondly, take personal responsibility for what you create in your life. One of the most important foundation concepts of NLP involves ‘cause and effect’. This simply means that every ‘effect’ on the planet starts with a ‘cause’. And, every circumstance in your life is an effect.
While studying successful people who are able to create their life the way that they want it, I noticed that they believe that they are the cause of every circumstance or effect in their life. In other words, they take responsibility for whatever happens in their lives. One of our finest skills as humans is to absolve ourselves of responsibility. When something goes well, we like to take credit for it; when something goes badly, we tend to shift blame. Once we put ourselves at ‘cause’, and take responsibility for everything that happens to us, things will stop simply ‘happening’ to us, and we will actively start creating the lives that we want and deserve.
Stop for a moment to consider this:
How do you live your life? Do you generally look on the positive side of life or do you experience your life as being hard work and difficult? More crucially, perhaps, are you someone who takes responsibility for whatever happens to you in your life, or are you someone who blames others or circumstances when things go wrong? You do not get the results you want, but the good thing is that there is always somebody else to blame!
More than anything else, moving from effect to cause helps us to step up our game. That’s because whatever occurs in our lives, good or bad, we are focused on what there is to learn from that situation. You will feel much more in control of your life because you are taking responsibility. The result is that you keep your own personal power in any situation.
From now on, ask yourself the following questions when things in your life do not go quite to plan:
- How have I managed to create this situation in my life and for what purpose?
- What is there for me to learn from this?
- What do I need to do differently next time?
You now have an opportunity to live your life at cause for one month. If you’re not sure what to do at first, just pretend – act ‘as if’. Enjoy the experience and reflect on what you’re learning.
- Step 1. Be ‘at cause’ in your universe. This means no more excuses! Take responsibility for everything that happens in your life.
- Step 2. Whatever happens to you, good or bad, ask yourself for what purpose did you create that situation in your life and what there is for you to learn from that situation. Go with what comes to you.
- Step 3. Reflect on what you have learned from these situations. Do something different if you need to.
- Step 4. Keep focusing on what you want to create in your life. Go for it!
Remember who is responsible for your success … it’s YOU!
When you take 100 per cent responsibility for your life, amazing things begin to happen.