Editor’s Note: The following article was originally written by Bob Cox. It has been updated and rewritten to address current events and provide further value. Please note that the opinions and views shared here may or may not reflect the original author’s views.
Why is it that some people succeed and others don’t?
This is a conundrum that I puzzled over for years.
I’ve come to the conclusion that there are multiple reasons – and one of the most important factors are mental blocks.
Your psychology, the beliefs you maintain about your life your place in the world, matters a lot.
The people who achieve the greatest success in any area don’t get there because they are smarter than everyone else…
In fact, I’d be willing to bet that for every person who has a successful weight-loss story, there are ten more who know the exact same information about nutrition, exercise and health.
Here’s the nature of the problem:
“When you know what to do to achieve success, and you know it works, how do you make yourself do it? This is a problem most everyone has.
All the business smarts in the world won’t do you one lick of good if psychology is standing in your way. How do you rid yourself of mental blocks?”
Good question. I’m sure that many ETR readers are struggling to find the answer.
So today, I’m going to give you some simple guidelines for clearing out the mental clutter that is blocking your success.
You’re about to learn how to rewire your brain and thoughts, remove the source of mental blocks for good and implement tools to keep your self-belief and confidence high.
Change The Way You Think
Just as you “spring clean” your house, you can rid yourself of the negative thoughts and feelings that are holding you back and the people who are sabotaging your goals.
Our thoughts govern our attitudes and, therefore, the actions we take.
If you work on improving the quality of your thoughts you improve your ability to take action.
Making change of ANY kind requires awareness – so for this step to overcoming mental blocks to work, we’ve got to examine your beliefs.
Here’s an easy way to start – identify the goal you’re trying to achieve, and fill out this sentence as many times as you possibly can:
I’m not going to be able to achieve ________________ result because of __________________.
I’m not talking about writing down two or three quick answers and moving on…
Actually do the work here.
I want you to write down AT LEAST fifty reasons you can pull from your mind about what you think is holding you back from becoming successful.
Here’s what you’ll notice:
At first, excuse come to you easily.
After you’ve jotted down the most obvious stuff, you’ll have to get really creative with this exercise.
When you’re done, you’ll notice that certain themes or trends have appeared…
You might be constantly reaffirming to yourself that you can’t achieve your goal for reasons that are related to finance, or time, or your obligations to other people in your life.
Having taken the time to really think about what’s stopping you from achieving everything you want to, you now have a window into your subconscious mind.
On a level that you haven’t been aware of, your MIND has been holding onto an idea like “I’m too busy to take time to exercise and cook so I can lose weight”, and seeking out evidence to support that idea.
For someone who wants to lose weight doing this exercise, they may write down things such as:
- “I don’t have time to cook healthy meals”
- “I work too many hours to wake up at 5am and go train in the gym. Sleep is important and I can’t sacrifice it!”
- “I should be with my wife and kids on the weekend instead of going for a long run”
Those are all symptoms of the same thought process:
Losing weight takes a LOT of time out of my week, and I simply don’t have it.
If that’s our mental operating system as we attempt another weight loss program, we’re destined to fail.
When we examine your beliefs in this manner, we can begin to rewire them.
Does losing weight REALLY take several hours a week, or is it simply making better choices around food?
Do you REALLY need to exercise for 9 hours a week to lose weight, or would a 20 minute walk still make a difference?
Really assess your negative thoughts and make a serious effort to rewire them. Enlist the help of someone you trust, and who supports you, to change these beliefs.
The truth is that everyone has doubts and skepticism about their own ability to achieve what they want – but SUCCESSFUL people protect themselves against their own thoughts.
Speaking of negative thoughts and mental blocks, let’s talk about why you should…
Limit Your Association With Negativity & Negative People
Your network dictates your net worth.
You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time around.
Don’t walk away from negative people – RUN!
Undoubtedly YOU have heard these quotes – and many more like them – from personal development leaders.
Sadly, there are many people who choose to view the world in negative terms. They always see the glass as half empty.
And they tell EVERYONE about it.
This doesn’t mean that they are bad people. But it does mean that if you are around them on a regular basis their sour outlook will begin to affect you.
Like it or not, the human brain – YOUR brain – is affected by repetition and exposure to all sorts of ideas, thoughts and beliefs if you don’t actively protect it.
Take our earlier example of someone with a weight-loss goal who subconsciously believed that they didn’t have time to achieve a healthier body:
If they are exposed in ANY way to a message from a friend, spouse, movie, book, magazine or podcast that supports the idea that being busy is good and there’s not enough time in life to do everything we want to…
That’s reinforcing the belief that weight loss requires more time than I can commit.
Yes – negative people show up in your life in other places than just your social circle. They’re on TV, writing blogs and books, and making big movies.
As an example, how many people do you think took satisfaction and validation from the message that “Rich people are spoiled, selfish and boring – poor people have all the fun and they’re the good guys!” after watching the movie Titanic?
Negativity shows up in a lot of different ways – and we only have one tool to overcome it:
Consciously rejecting negative ideas.
Take an example of a hunter and a vegan living together in a small apartment.
No matter how much they share their ideas and recipes with each other, they’ll never come to a consensus about the best way to eat.
One will express their opinion, and the other will immediately think “Yeah, right!”
That’s what you need to do (in your own head, of course – nobody likes an argument) when you hear other people express negative beliefs around you.
If someone says that it’s just so hard to build a business these days, and social media is sooooo overcrowded that it’s impossible to stand out…
Mentally take a moment to check in with yourself:
I don’t believe that the marketplace is too crowded for me to build a business.
The next time you hear someone complaining about how they just don’t see the point of working out so hard and dieting so strictly to lose an extra few kilos…
Mentally take a moment to check in with yourself:
Looking good matters. It’s a sign your life is under control – and that matters to me.
That’s why it was so important for us to get clarity on the things you BELIEVE are standing between you and your goals…
So that you can rewire and reframe that thought pattern and mental block, then actively and consciously reject that idea when you notice other people supporting it around you.
You may not be able to let go of the negative people in your life completely (maybe they are friends, family, or co-workers), but here’s a little rule of thumb you can use:
Visit less often, and/or don’t stay as long.
Your future isn’t their responsibility, nobody owes you anything, and it’s not up to anyone else to change their ways to suit your goals.
You alone have control over how committed you are to beating the mental blocks that keep you from achieving success – so keep in contact with negative people if they’re important to you…
But not too much contact.
Let Go Of The Past (Don’t Carry Mental Blocks With You)
This is huge. And because it is difficult, it takes practice. And then more practice!
Whatever has gone wrong in the past… whoever slighted you… whatever didn’t work out quite the way you intended… let it go! Just let it go.
Banish it from your mind and focus on the here and now.
You may find, as you review and overcome your mental blocks, that you’ve been sabotaging yourself for years.
You might be embarrassed about the reasons why you have held yourself back from taking action towards your goals.
You may regret some decisions you’ve made.
But you’re just like the stock market – past performance has no bearing on what tomorrow holds.
Whatever beliefs, failures, fears or rejections have happened to you will inhibit the kind of productive, positive thinking you need to make progress.
Cut those chains of the past – just as you must mentally catch yourself and your self-talk when you hear negativity around you..
Catch yourself if you find yourself dragging drama from the past into the challenges of today.
With that said, here are three exercises you can use TODAY to begin building momentum on reframing negative beliefs and mental blocks while creating more positive thought patterns:
Read Something Inspirational Every Day
Literally something, every day – no matter what.
We are thrilled that you read Early to Rise. But what’s the purpose of consuming articles here, or books from other personal development sources?
It doesn’t matter if you read 1,000 pages a day or 10 – if you continually and constantly bombard your brain with useful, hopeful, inspirational content…
And you mentally check yourself and agree with the messages and lessons you learn here and elsewhere…
You’ll begin to rewire your brain.
Michael Masterson has often referenced The Power of One – focusing on just one idea that you can put to work in your life immediately.
The best type of content for you to begin reading is the stuff that directly refutes your beliefs about why you CAN’T be successful.
If you think that you can’t lose weight because you don’t have enough time, read Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People.
If your mental block stops you from building your business because you think there is too much competition in the marketplace, read Crushing It! by Gary Vaynerchuk.
There’s thousands of books to help you deal with hundreds of mental blocks – all you have to do is look, ask for help, and immerse yourself.
SUGGESTED: Goal Setting: The Key To Success
Here is something else that works…
Here at Early to Rise, we are big on using the Power of Visualization to keep your motivation strong to accomplish your goals.
It also works to remove the mental blocks that get in your way.
Tiger Woods visualizes each and every swing – in detail – before he drives, chips, or putts.
Say you are gearing up for your annual job review or interviewing for a promotion…
Visualize exactly what you will wear. Visualize how confident and positive you will be.
See yourself answering every question quickly and correctly. See the interviewer smiling and nodding at your answers.
Now… go in the room and take your shot.
One area where many people miss out on the potential power of visualization is forgetting to visualize how you’ll handle challenging moments.
You can bet that athletes, business owners, entrepreneurs and high-performers all around the world take a little bit of time out of each day to think about how their best self would deal with any obstacle.
When you’re mentally prepared for these moments, your mental blocks won’t stand a chance.
Have An Upbeat Conversation
This simple exercise is a favorite of mine.
Have an upbeat conversation with your spouse or significant other, a friend or a family member, a co-worker or your boss.
Maybe you could reconnect with an old mentor. You could even take this opportunity to speak with someone new. Perhaps the new hire in your office or your new neighbor.
Start asking people to tell you three good things that happened to them today.
When people around you recognise that you’re trying to steer conversation towards positive things, they’ll get the picture.
Put no limits on the topics… just limits on your attitude.
Overcoming your mental blocks comes down to awareness and choice.
If you don’t know what types of thoughts stop you from taking action, you can’t rewrite them.
If you don’t take consistent, steady action every day to change your narrative around those thoughts, surround yourself with positivity and inspiration…
Well, the only place where “Results” comes before “Work” is in the dictionary.
Choose to take action on your thoughts to feel good about yourself, and see how natural it becomes to take action on making any goal a reality!