“The highest drive we have is to act consistently with how we perceive ourselves—it is one of the most powerful forces in the universe.” –Jim Kwik
The way we think about ourselves in any situation matters because we tend to live up—or down—to that perception.
Neal Donald Walsch said, “Every act is an act of self-definition.” I agree, and I think it can be applied in two directions.
Our behaviors define us. They tell us and the world who we are.
But our self-perception—or self-definition—also determines the behaviors we choose.
Psychologists use the term “cognitive dissonance” to describe the inner conflict people experience when they act in a way that contradicts what they believe to be true about themselves.
As Jim Kwik mentioned, we are driven to act consistently with our self-perception. So, cognitive dissonance can occur when we either have a low perception of ourselves and strive to elevate our lives or when we have a high perception of ourselves and act in a way that doesn’t jibe with that perception.
This is why it is so important to upgrade our self-perception.
I have shared the story of the JustWind mindset which holds that we have the power and freedom to choose our perspectives and acknowledges that we can harness that power to live the life we want to live and make the difference we are meant to make.
Just like the mindset intervention that I experienced when my friend David answered my complaints about the wind with a shrug and the comment, “It’s just wind,” on 2002 Biking Across Kansas, sometimes we need a mindset intervention when it comes to our self-perception.
Here are 5 ways to create a mindset intervention and upgrade your self-perception.
- Act “as if.” Father of American psychology William James said, “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” Sometimes we need to act in an elevated way in order to start perceiving a higher version of ourselves. Just as our self-perception determines the behaviors we choose, we can intentionally act in a way that is aspirational in order to allow ourselves to recognize that higher version as who we really are. Subconsciously, the actions follow the perception, but consciously—with intention—the perception can follow the actions.
- Visualize yourself acting as you want to act. Actions count most, but they may need a little boost. Visualizing yourself living the way you want to live can be very effective. Close your eyes and, either as part of your meditation practice, or as a practice all its own, do your best to really see and feel yourself acting at this higher level. What does it feel like? What does it look like? How do you feel about yourself? What does it create in your life? What doors will it open for you? Visualize it as vividly as possible.
- Write a letter to yourself. A great way to give yourself a mindset intervention to upgrade your self-perception is to write yourself a letter. Project yourself some distance into the future—maybe one year, five years, whatever feels right—but try to make it a time frame that is not so far off that you can’t fathom it. Write to yourself and congratulate yourself for all the work you have put in to accomplish your goals and elevate your quality of life. Make it as detailed as possible. Describe what you’ve done and how it has enhanced your life. Take your time writing it and reread it often.
- Teach someone else. As the saying goes, we often teach what we most need to learn. Help someone else level up their self-perception. Teach them these strategies. Tell them how you perceive them. As you teach and help someone else, watch your own self-perception increase.
- Surround yourself with people who lift you up. We can’t always control who is around us on a regular basis. This can be hard. We can definitely get dragged down be negative people who don’t bring out the best in us and aren’t trying to grow. Even if you can’t eliminate these negative people in your life, you can bring in some positive ones—in person and/or virtually. Social media has plenty of downsides, but it also can serve as a way to connect you with people who share your aspirations of living at a higher level. Join groups centered around the way you want to live and act. Listen to podcasts. Read books and blogs. Find ways to grow the positivity in your life and expose yourself to it often. Aspire to emulate these positive influences and see yourself in the same light.
None of these strategies will guarantee an upgraded self-perception, but all of them can help, especially when done on a regular basis.
This is important work because we become who we believe we are and who we believe we are capable of becoming.
Think better (about yourself) to live better.
“The greatest discovery of our generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind. As you think, so shall you be.” –William James
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