Did you know that you've got the power to have tremendous and lasting impact on your mind? That you can "program" or "hack" it in ways that you see fit? I sure didn't; at least, not until a relatively short while ago.
I held the belief for a long time that, well, beliefs are instilled within us at a young age -- developed by our parents, siblings, friends, and family that we interact with -- and that we have minimal to no effect on them. I knew I could make choices (though even that gets a little fuzzy around my philosophy study / determinism days...), express preferences, and even step outside the "norm" on occasion, but that it meant I was having to push against the "real" me in doing so. As if deciding to believe or not believe something that disagreed with my current state forced me to step outside myself, and not be authentic; living my choice, but that my choice was a lie. After all -- these things are what I had always believed, so how could anything be different?
Wow, did I ever get an eye-opening. Embracing the notion that I not only own the thoughts and beliefs that I have, but that I can fundamentally change them and still be me was both terrifying and exhilarating. I no longer felt trapped and dictated by my past, and the stories I carried along from it. It was so scary to let go of things, as I had wrapped my identity up powerfully in what I believed, even if I hadn't chosen a particular belief in the first place. Awareness is so key to any kind of change, and until I became aware that I own my thoughts and beliefs -- they do not own me -- I was doomed to live a trapped existence. One where I thought / believed / felt / acted in accordance with how things had always been done; more specifically, how I had always done things.
In a lot of ways, it was "easier" than I find things now -- though I'd never go back. When I say "easier", I mean in the sense that I could argue away any real agency or responsibility for myself. "My parents screwed me up...", "The world made me who I am...", "I'm a product of my environment..." -- all very easy ways to shift responsibility, and lay blame at the feet of others for my actions, and ultimate unhappiness. When I finally "woke up" to the notion that I had power over all of it, I had a real system shock. Claiming such responsibility was tremendous, as it meant I could dictate my future states -- whatever I chose them to be. It was incredibly humbling, too, as it meant I'd need to own all of the things that came along with this discovery.
But how did I start shifting from one radical mindset to another? A variety of exercises, actually. I'm sure many of you have heard of gratitude journalling -- simply keeping an ongoing journal of what you're grateful for -- and that was a great start. It allowed me to look at my life from a different perspective; no longer one of blame for the negative parts of my life, and instead, gratitude for what I loved. I also used more direct techniques to stimulate habit and belief changes, such as auto-suggestion. Auto-suggestion is basically like affirmations on steroids, as it provides a means of "hacking" your brain -- specifically your subconscious -- and inputting new thoughts / beliefs / actions that you desire. It's not a quick process, and one that requires a great deal of commitment and repetition, though the results are amazing.
As of now, I've come to realize that no matter what stories or programming we carry with us, we also possess the ability to directly alter them to best serve us. We often laud the magnificent power of our minds, yet forget we have the capability to shape them long after our youthful learning state. I've made phenomenal strides in my own life shifting my mindset and adjusting my beliefs to coincide and flow with my own personal truth. I possess no greater power than any of you, though, and I know that every single one of you can do the same. All you need is the will to act on that power.