Why What You Think About Matters

UPDATED: February 6, 2024
PUBLISHED: July 10, 2017

We all carry stories from our childhood. We carry stories about holiday traditions and the right way to fold a fitted sheet. We also learn how to find love and attention by watching our parents, teachers and friends. We learn from them about how the world works, what we can and can’t do, and what kind of people we are—funny, caring, quiet, social, nerdy, strong.

We form our lives around these stories, accepting the boundaries that were set when our identities were just beginning to form.

We carry these stories, good and bad, into our adult lives. We form our futures around these stories, accepting the boundaries that were set when our identities were just beginning to form. Then we spend the rest of our lives letting that inner child tell us what we can and can’t have.

My natural state is to wonder whether I’m good enough. That little voice whispers that I can’t do this and can’t achieve that. I’m never going to get rid of those fears, and neither are you. But you can turn them into your fuel. You can use that fear as a motivator to keep pushing toward your dreams.

Related: 5 Ways to Turn Your Fear Into Fuel

First you need to analyze what thoughts are holding you back. Do you struggle with self-confidence? Are you afraid of failing or maybe of succeeding? When a new opportunity arises, do you stride confidently forward with a yes mindset? Identify your limiting beliefs by asking the following questions:

Once you identify your fears and limiting beliefs, you need to work at affirming yourself in those moments of weakness. Norman Vincent Peale dedicated an entire chapter in The Power of Positive Thinking to the notion that the brain, when unencumbered by the nagging voice of limitation, is your most powerful tool.

When self-limiting stories are triggered by an event or another individual, they typically bring strong feelings of anxiety, fear or perhaps anger with them. Because those feelings are so uncomfortable, they scramble your mind’s ability to focus, leaving you jumping from one task to another. Whether we use our self-talk to move toward our dreams or allow them to control us will determine our future.

“A peaceful mind generates power,” Peale wrote. What you think about matters. What you tell yourself matters. Be the voice of positivity and confidence.

Related: Boost Self-Belief With These 10 Steps

This article originally appeared in the August 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

John Addison is the Leadership Editor for SUCCESS and the author of Real Leadership: 9 Simple Practices for Leading and Living with Purpose,aWall Street Journal and USA Todaybest-seller. Renowned for his insight and wisdom on leadership, personal development and success, John is a sought-after speaker and motivator. Read more on his blog, and follow John on Facebook and Twitter.