Changing Our Thinking and Beliefs

what-gets-us-into-trouble“What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”  – Mark Twain

Beliefs about life and abilities affect our identity and self esteem, how much we develop creative talents and pursue other interests.

Beliefs can include casual thoughts, but also deeply ingrained attitudes, presumptions and prejudices.

But still, beliefs are just ideas – and can be questioned and changed, if they don’t support our growth.

As early psychologist William James commented: “Our thoughts and beliefs pass, so long as nothing challenges them…”

Belief change expert Morty Lefkoe, psychologist and creativity coach Eric Maisel, and others address how limiting beliefs can be challenged.

They also expand on the idea expressed by personal development leaders like Tony Robbins:

“It’s not the events of our lives that shape us, but our beliefs as to what those events mean.”

NOTE – the end of the video says “Follow link in description…”
– the link is to this page you are reading.

Images etc used in the video:

Tom Hanks, Tyler Hoechlin in “Road to Perdition” (2002) – from article Behavior Change Doesn’t Have to be Difficult (Page 2) by Morty Lefkoe.

Emily Browning, Jim Carrey, Liam Aiken in “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events” (2004) – also used in article Why Does The World Suffer From An Epidemic Of Low Self-Esteem? by Morty Lefkoe.

Addams Family Values-campChristina Ricci as Wednesday Addams in Addams Family Values (1993).

One scene in the movie:
Wednesday: I don’t want to be in the pageant.
Cheerful camp owner Gary: Don’t you want to help me realize my vision?
Wednesday: Your work is puerile and under-dramatized. You lack any sense of structure, character and the Aristotelian unities.
Gary: Young lady, I am getting just a tad tired of your attitude problem.

A high ability mind can generate great art and invention, but also critical and dismissive attitudes toward other people, and even “torrents of self-recriminations, repetitive brooding” as noted on the site for Eric Maisel’s online course “Why Smart People Hurt” – see more info at bottom of this page.

Comments in my video above by Morty Lefkoe are from video: “How to Stop Suffering: Morty Lefkoe at TEDxHoboken” – posted in my article Morty Lefkoe on how our strong feelings get conditioned.

self-talk-womanComments by Eric Maisel are from the video “Acquiring a Creative Mind” in my article Brainpower and The Smart Gap.

“Self-talk woman” is from article 3 Tips for Ending Negative Self-talk, MyFoodDiary site.

“Talent” text image from post: Why You Don’t Need Talent To Be A Good Snowboarder by Jedidiah Tan.

Graphic: “I am imaginative, talented, and disciplined” from article: 101 Words That Feel Good by Michael Dorausch.

Brain graphic from video “Emotions in the brain” on my site Anxiety Relief Solutions.

Nicolas Cage in AdaptationScreenwriter ‘Charlie Kaufman’ [Nicolas Cage] facing the dreaded blank page, in the movie “Adaptation”:

“To begin…To begin…How to start? I’m hungry. I should get coffee. Coffee would help me think. Maybe I should write something first, then reward myself with coffee. Coffee and a muffin. So I need to establish the themes. Maybe a banana nut. That’s a good muffin.”

From article Creative Anxiety.

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Lio by Mark Tatulli, August 07, 2014

What messages from ads, news media, other people and other sources are impacting our thinking and distorting our healthy self concept?

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Our unfriendly monkey-mind

In the video above, psychologist Eric Maisel offers “three important points about acquiring a creative mind” – ideas which can apply to realizing other talents as well.

monkey-iphone“The first is the Buddhist idea of monkey mind: we’re just thinking about too many things and it’s getting worse all the time now that we have social media to think about, and should we be twittering this second, and what are our Facebook friends doing, and all of that.

“And neurons get captured by all of those thoughts, preventing us from having enough neurons left to have the kinds of ideas we want.”

He continues:

“What we’ve learned from a hundred years of psychotherapy is how self-unfriendly our inner talk is: how often were saying ‘I’m too far behind'; ‘I’m not competent'; ‘I don’t have a chance'; ‘I’m too old'; ‘I’m not talented’ – all of those sorts of things.

“So it’s really important that in order to be creative, you learn what cognitive therapists teach, which is a simple three-step process.

YouWillNeverBeFree“Step one is just to listen to what you’re saying to yourself, which is an act of courage because we don’t really want to hear what we’re saying to ourselves.

“We’re kind of defensive, tricky creatures; we don’t really want to hear that we’re saying, I’m not talented. So step one is listening.

“Step two is disputing: you want to start fighting off these thoughts because they’re really not serving you.

“So if you have a thought like ‘I’m not talented,’ you want to dispute it by saying, No, that thought doesn’t serve me.

“Then the third step is substituting more affirmative language: you want to start saying things to yourself that change your neuronal patterns and allow you to think more positively about your chances as an artist.”

[Or whatever career or venture you want to pursue, of course.]

Image: “You will never feel free until you have freed yourself from the prison of your own false thoughts.” — Philip Arnold (PJA64X)

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This broad topic of changing beliefs and thoughts is addressed by many authors (including me) on my various sites.

Here are a few more articles and other resources:

Responding to other people’s beliefs

Stephen King quotes his high school teacher’s critique of his writing: “What I don’t understand, Stevie, is why you’d write junk like this… You’re talented. Why do you want to waste your abilities?”

Stephen KingKing goes on to admit [in his book “On Writing”]: “I have spent a good many years since — too many, I think — being ashamed about what I write.

“I think I was forty before I realized that almost every writer of fiction and poetry who has ever published a line has been accused of wasting his or her God-given talent.

“If you write (or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose), someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that’s all.” [From my article: Shame.]

There is also this anecdote about his early attitude toward one of his most enduring stories:

“As a young adult raising a family in a trailer, King started a story inspired by his stint as a janitor cleaning a high-school girls locker room. He crumpled it up, but his writer wife retrieved it from the trash, and using her advice about the girl milieu and his own memories of two reviled teenage classmates who died young, he came up with Carrie.” [ summary of On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by Stephen King.]


Beliefs about self-worth and value as a person can impact many people. Here are a few examples of well-known artists who have experienced shame resulting from traumatic experiences.

Lady Gaga was bullied, even thrown into a trash can. She said, “I was called really horrible, profane names very loudly in front of huge crowds of people, and my schoolwork suffered at one point. I didn’t want to go to class. And I was a straight-A student, so there was a certain point in my high school years where I just couldn’t even focus on class because I was so embarrassed all the time. I was so ashamed of who I was.”

Halle BerryHalle Berry about being abused as a child by her violent father: “I think I’ve spent my adult life dealing with the sense of low self-esteem that sort of implanted in me. Somehow I felt not worthy.”

Trauma takes many forms, and has different sources and levels of impact for each of us.

See more quotes by and about Sarah Polley,, Jennifer Lawrence, Jonathan Safran Foer and many others, in my article Creative People and Trauma.

Myths / beliefs about artists

When “The Artist’s Way” author and creativity coach Julia Cameron has asked people to list ten traits they think artists have, their responses have included:

“Artists are broke,” “Artists are crazy,” “Artists are drug-addicted” and “Artists are drunk.”

Other myths and ideas about being an artist:

“Artists must be poor and sacrifice their well-being for their art.”

“Artists should accept the solitary life and find solutions on their own.”

“You can’t be a mother and a successful artist.”

Jane Campion“Artists are right-brained and aren’t very good at left-brain stuff like running a business.”

Director, writer and producer Jane Campion, praised for “The Piano” and other films, once commented, “I never have had the confidence to approach film making straight on. I just thought it was something done by geniuses, and I was very clear that I wasn’t one of those.”

From my article Myths of Creativity and Creators – How They Hold Us Back.

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Impostor feelings

As creative people, even after achieving some recognition for our talents, we can experience self-critical thoughts and insecurity, such as impostor feelings – sometimes based on these kinds of myths we have picked up about creative “genius” or artists.

Kate Winslet-oscar

Valerie Young, Ed.D., an expert on impostor syndrome, commented in an Entrepreneur magazine article: “Millions of people, from entrepreneurs to celebrities, have a hard time internalizing their accomplishments. They explain away their success as luck or timing. They feel this sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

Emma WatsonOne example is actor Emma Watson: “It’s almost like the better I do, the more my feeling of inadequacy actually increases, because I’m just going, Any moment, someone’s going to find out I’m a total fraud, and that I don’t deserve any of what I’ve achieved.

“I can’t possibly live up to what everyone thinks I am and what everyone’s expectations of me are.”

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Valerie Young is an expert on dealing with impostor thinking and suggests:

Six steps for matching perceptions to reality.

* “Separate your self-assessments from objective evaluations of your skills. Group-based evaluations, promotions, and letters of reference are less biased than the world seen through “impostor”-colored glasses.

* “Give yourself opportunities to compete. Don’t let your self-judgment prevent you demonstrating what you know.”

For the others, see my article: Getting beyond impostor feelings.

Visit her site to learn more about her program: Overcome the Impostor Syndrome

Overcome the Impostor Syndrome

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Carol Dweck-bookCarol Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, notes “For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.

“It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value. How does this happen? How can a simple belief have the power to transform your psychology and, as a result, your life?”

From article: Carol Dweck on the growth mindset.

Related article: Carol Dweck on developing creative talent.

Her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.


Video: How to Overcome Negative Thinking by Neseret Bemient, host of The Mental Health Telesummit, which included 12 speakers; recordings are available.

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Never underestimateThe Mark Twain quote at the top – “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know…” – is from article: What You Don’t Know You Don’t Know by Morty Lefkoe.

Silencing Self-Criticism by Eric Maisel, PhD.

Negative self-talk.

Self-limiting beliefs and developing your talents.

Getting beyond impostor feelings.

Eric Maisel on his course “Your Life in the Arts” – “Creating depends on having a mind quiet enough to allow ideas to bubble up…Learn the important skills of quieting your mind and extinguishing negative self-talk.”

Morty Lefkoe - eliminating limiting beliefs

Read more comments by Morty Lefkoe in article: Building Self-confidence and Changing Limiting Beliefs – which includes an audio clip of him talking about realizing the power of beliefs.

Other articles:

Morty Lefkoe on how our strong feelings get conditioned. Includes video: “How to Stop Suffering: Morty Lefkoe at TEDxHoboken.”

How To Change “Human Nature” by Morty Lefkoe.

ReCreate Your Life by the Lefkoe Insitute – includes testimonial video by Jack Canfield.


To experience The Lefkoe Method for changing limiting beliefs – for FREE – go to ReCreate Your Life.

“Morty’s got a technique that works like magic.” Jack Canfield, Co-Author, New York Times Best-Selling Chicken Soup for the Soul Series.

“Your method has boosted my confidence (and our business success) beyond what I thought was possible.” Mark Watson, Cofounder – Wealth Inside Out Trainings

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Natural Psychology online course by Eric MaiselNatural Psychology: Exploring The New Psychology of Meaning – online course by Eric Maisel.

“Meaning never was something to be found in a philosophy, a religion, a belief system, or a way of life.

“Rather, meaning is a psychological experience. And because it is a psychological experience, you can create it.”

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Another online course of Dr. Maisel: Why Smart People Hurt.

Why Smart People Hurt online courseThe site says: “Here are some of the challenges we’ll explore:

How distressing states like mania, insomnia, and unproductive obsessing are the natural consequences of a good mind gone racing.

The sheer hardness of thinking, as evidenced by how hard it is to grasp the plot of the novel you’re writing, produce a breakthrough in your scientific field, or see enough moves ahead in chess.

The surprising self-unfriendliness of a good mind: a mind that involves itself in personal inquisitions, torrents of self-recriminations, repetitive brooding, and other painful self-reprisals.

Related article: Brainpower and The Smart Gap.


Originally posted 2013-11-15 11:36:01.


What do you think about these topics?