Do you consider yourself a “free-thinker, a person who holds your own opinions and a person who can change your opinions and mind whenever you want?

Do you consider that you have formed your own values, beliefs, and attitudes after careful thought?

If you do you must be the only living person in that category!

We all hold beliefs, opinions, and values from which we develop attitudes, prejudices and perceptions. Where do all these come from?

Many of these things are unconscious and deeply ingrained. They have been formed from influences operating since our childhood. Many are not helpful, but all are unconscious – at least to begin with.

Some people may develop the awareness to stand back and look at what is in their mind, and then have the choice to change beliefs which are dictating attitudes and behaviour, and their life direction.

But if you don’t have this awareness you may never think about why you compare yourself unfavourably with others. You may not understand why you feel jealousy and envy regarding the achievement of others compared with your own.

You may never realise that a good thing about comparing yourself with others is that instead of reacting with a feeling of jealousy, you could learn from them, and possibly improve your own performance.

You may not be aware that your own parents displayed jealousy or envy regarding the achievement of others, and therefore put them down in order to feel better about themselves. It’s very likely you learned this behaviour from them without even knowing it.

If you find yourself thinking “I can never be happy unless I can have X Y or Z” because you really believe that you must have x y or z to be happy, then you need to challenge this belief, because many of our deeply held beliefs may be erroneous or will not work in your favour.

For example, if you have been brought up to have negative expectations about your ability, this belief can act as a self-fulfilling prophecy and hold you back in life.

So what to do?

Some quick tips

  • Notice what demands you have on life, e.g., “I must have this or that” in order to be…”
  • Be aware of any beliefs which can lead to a negative and self-fulfilling outcome. (I’ll never be any good…” or similar)
  • Think outside the box. I moved to a new house with a garden that had a large, ugly shed. I thought and thought about how I could include the shed (the box) to make it attractive or useful. Then I thought, “Get rid of the box!” I didn’t really need the shed stuck right in the middle of the garden, so I spread the word, and got someone who wanted a shed to take it away. Problem solved.
  • Maybe you have a box of beliefs that are blocking you from doing something useful or creative – get rid of them. Get some help if necessary.
  • Getting rid of negative or non-useful beliefs takes time, effort and awareness but you can do it.
  • Try and work out where these unhelpful beliefs came from. For example, did they come from your father or mother, or some other significant other?
  • Ask yourself “Am I repeating this attitude, prejudice, or behaviour because I learned it from my mother?
  • Write a list of unhelpful beliefs, noting where they may have originated.
  • Ask yourself “How would I be thinking, feeling or behaving if I didn’t act on these beliefs? (NB you may have these beliefs but not act on them)
  • Ask yourself would I be happier, less anxious, or manage my life better if I didn’t have them? The answer is usually yes.

Your beliefs, attitudes and values control your mind and your behaviour, your opportunities, options and your future.


These beliefs and attitudes may have controlled you in the past, but by being aware of them you now have a choice not to take them with you into the future.

See part 2 – Getting some more helpful beliefs going.