It is always much easier to question ourselves, doubt our abilities, and given into fears, than begin a day with self-talk about the best of who we are and all we have accomplished. Why does negativity occur so naturally, to the point it is a natural or default setting for many people?

I can make these observations based upon my many years of work as an educator, career coach, and mindset developmental coach. I also know how hard I have worked to maintain a positive mindset after a job has been cut, typically due to declining enrollment, which has been a common theme throughout my career within the field of distance learning. What has sustained me: A belief in my experience, knowing I am capable, qualified, and someone who cares deeply about this profession. In other words, I have never given up on myself.

As an educator, one of the most gratifying moments during a class occurs when I work with a student who has doubts about their ability, capability, and/or capacity, and after I help encourage them, they pull through and continue on successfully. What I have found is this: It never takes a great deal of effort on my part to help any student in a virtual environment. If I pay attention to students, use encouraging words, maintain a responsive attitude, and a helpful disposition, students are likely to connect with me.

What I have found is the manner in which you begin your day, as to the mindset you cultivate, ultimately shapes how the rest of your day continues. You have likely experienced this before, especially if you awakened in what felt like a bad mood. It is highly unlikely you were extremely happy and exuberant by the end of the day. Your mindset also has a direct bearing upon what you think about your capabilities. If you are in a negative frame of mind, you may want to discount yourself. What I want to share with you are four belief strategies, which will allow you to maintain a strong belief system for yourself, starting today.

The Origin of Beliefs

There is an important distinction to make when you want to understand what the essence of beliefs are about, and that is learning the difference between a belief and an opinion. When a person holds an opinion, it is a highly subjective view of something or someone that can change at any time, and for any reason. Everyone has opinions, and there is usually no manner in which to ascertain truth, as to whose opinion is right or wrong, because of the subjective nature of opinions. Now if someone were to state a fact, in support of their opinion, it may help sway someone they are having a conversation with; however, any discussion involving opinions will always be subjective in nature.

A person's belief system is something different altogether. Most beliefs that we hold have been formed earlier in our life, and often at a younger age, while we were impressionable children. As we mature, and learn about the world ourselves, it is possible we may reject some of those beliefs our parents taught us, and create our own. However, our initial belief system was formed early on, which is why childhood trauma can have such a lasting, negative impact on a person. Other negative events, such as growing up poor, can shape a person's worldview and belief system in a negative manner. We do not consciously think about our beliefs. Yet as you will read, a review can be helpful.

There Really are No Limits to Your Potential

Have you reached a point, where you said to yourself: "This is it. This is the best I'll ever become. I can never grow any further as a person, or within my career. I have learned everything I can possibly learn."?

It is unlikely most people have stated this or even thought this, simply because it isn't a typical thought to think. Could this, or would this, ever apply to you? It doesn't seem likely, does it? The reason why I ask these questions is simple, as I have never met anyone who has reached the limit of their full potential. It doesn't matter what your background, age, health social status, history, or any other condition may be, everyone has the potential to be or become more than they are right now. I know from my work as an educator, it comes down to a matter of what a person believes about themselves, along with their capability, as to how much of their potential they'll discover and apply.

4 Strategies to Start Believing in Yourself

If you want to discover more about your potential, then it is time to believe in yourself, and maintain this mindset no matter how your day begins or progresses, or the conditions life presents to you. The following four strategies are those I have used for myself, and I have shared with students and clients alike. Perhaps you will resonate with one or all of them, to begin to change or improve what you believe.

Strategy #1: Review Your Basic Beliefs

You likely are not accustomed to thinking about your basic beliefs on a regular basis. This first strategy will help you recognize and evaluate what those beliefs are, to determine what areas you can adjust or modify as needed. Use the following statements to ascertain what your basic beliefs are:

When I think about my capacity to learn, I believe:

When I think about my ability to take on a new project, I believe:

When I think about my capability to adapt to changes, I believe:

When I think about my future potential, I believe:

When I think about my value as a person, I believe:

Strategy #2: Choose Your Words Carefully

What I have noticed is the ease with which most people will use derogatory words about themselves, for even the slightest of mistakes. Let's take a very basic example to illustrate this point. A person knocks over a glass cup and it breaks. Their immediate reaction is to use self-talk and state: "Oh you are so stupid". Now at first it may seem as if this was done in jest and should be funny. Yet those words, if used repeatedly and over time, can be harmful.

What happens is that it establishes a pattern of negativity, reaffirming to this person that they are not valued and prone to making mistakes. What this person doesn't realize is the harm they are intentionally, and subconsciously, doing to themselves. It would even be better to state something such as "Oh well", then make a seemingly harmless put-down. Words can develop a negative pattern, eventually creating a negative belief, which is why you should choose the words you use carefully.

Strategy #3: Self-Acceptance is Crucial

One of the most challenging aspects of our belief systems is ensuring self-acceptance is included. The most important example I can think of is a person who continues to struggle with their weight. They monitor the scale every day, obsess over ever food choice made, and then one day they decide to splurge when eating out. All of a sudden, their level of self-acceptance is torn down, and as they look in a mirror, they only have negative thoughts.

If this person would only look at themselves with kindness and care, and just accept who they are, there is so much more happiness to be had in life. This I know and share from my own lifetime of struggle, and childhood trauma related to it. What I've learned, on the road to self-acceptance, is to care about myself first, and then find appropriate methods eating so I could leave the cycle of negativity behind me.

Yet I know self-acceptance is not easy, especially for those who are marginalized for other reasons, and again, I'm included in other categories like these as well. This is a society of classifying people according to characteristics, orientations, and the like, which means falling out of the norm can become challenging for many reasons. Once you can accept yourself as you are right now, you will soon find yourself free of mental restraints, and able to establish a positive belief about yourself.

But first you must ascertain if you are or are not, accepting of yourself. There is only one statement for you to answer, in order to make this assessment:

I like myself, and everything about myself, inside and out. (True or False)

Strategy #4: Trust Yourself No Matter What

The final important strategy for you to use, in relation to the establishment of positive beliefs, is about the manner in which you trust yourself. This extends what you are thinking into something more concrete, an ability to take future action. When you decide to accept yourself, and believe in what you are capable of achieving, then you need to trust yourself to be able to learn, do, create, or whatever it is going to take to accomplish what you want to complete in life. In other words, it is one step to think you believe, and another to trust after you believe. The fact you take action, based upon trust, demonstrates to yourself that you do in fact hold a valid belief. From that moment on, your belief is accepted, and perhaps, you'll develop another belief related to it.

Don't Wait, Start Today

Now that you understand what beliefs consist of, how to evaluate your belief systems, and methods you can implement to start believing in yourself, why wait any longer? Do you have any idea how much potential you hold, especially untapped potential, which only requires your belief to access it? This doesn't mean you are going to change the world, but what it does mean is living up to your fullest potential, whatever that may be. It may take you an entire lifetime to find out, if it is even possible to fully discover. Yet your day, and even your very life can change, once you begin to establish a positive belief system about yourself. Wouldn't you like to know what more you can accomplish, if only you'd believe in yourself? It is possible to discover, and this change can start today.

About Dr. Johnson

Dr. Bruce A. Johnson has been working in the field of higher education and distance learning since 2005, with roles including Faculty Development Manager, Core Faculty, Doctoral Mentor and Committee Member, and Faculty Development Specialist. Dr. J's background also includes work as a Human Performance Improvement Consultant, and prior to 2005, he was a Manager of Training and Development.

Dr. Johnson is an inspirational author, writer, and educator. His life mission to teach, mentor, write, and inspire others. He has earned a PhD in Postsecondary and Adult Education, a Certificate in Training and Performance Improvement (TPI), a Master's in Adult Education, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

As a scholar practitioner, Dr. J was published in a scholarly journal and he has been a featured presenter at an international distance learning conference. He has published three books related to higher education, including two about online teaching.  Dr. J has also published over 230 online articles about adult learning, higher education, distance learning, online teaching, and mindset development.

Come join Dr. J's new group, Motivation for Transformation:

• Any time of the day, visit this group to find your source of motivation, to be inspired and more importantly, have your mindset transformed:

Dr. J offers the following transformative resource:

• New: Mindset Tune-Up Inspirational Card Deck. Start your morning or transform your day with words of encouragement. These are more than affirmations; these cards are personal self-empowerment statements. Mindset Tune-Up Inspirational Card Deck Set

Dr. J also offers the following resources:

• Transform Online Teaching: Expert Strategies and Essential Resources Every Educator Needs

• Getting Down to Business: A Handbook for Adjunct Faculty Who Teach Business

Please Visit: Dr. J's Resources Page

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