It’s one of those quotes that most of us have heard and it carries a powerful message. Change your thoughts and change your world was coined by Norman Vincent Peale who was the author of the influential book, The Power of Positive Thinking.
Unsurprisingly when published in 1952, the book came in for a lot of criticism from both mental health experts and theologians. There are conflicting reports of how many copies have been sold, but it is still one of the better-known self-help books.
The idea that you change your thoughts and you can change your world makes sense, if you think about it, because you shift your focus. It sounds simple and straightforward, but is it? Our thoughts influence our actions and they link back to our beliefs, which is where the change needs to start.
Why Do You Want to Change Your World?
This has to be the first question you ask yourself and you may be surprised by the answer. I know someone who, a few years ago, didn’t seem to be able to get a relationship and couldn’t understand why. He was having a conversation with someone who asked a question about his social life, to which he gave a fairly generic, non-descript answer.
The person looked at him and said, “You know, you’re quite an aloof person”. He was shocked by the comment, because it wasn’t how he saw himself. It made him realize his problem wasn’t that no one wanted to have a relationship with him, it was that he wasn’t sending out the right vibrations.
He’d been protecting himself in all areas of his life by being guarded in what he said and how he acted. Once he understood that, he worked on being more open about himself in all situations and his world changed!
Instead of concentrating on getting a relationship, he focused on how he projected himself into the universe. You see, if you want to really change your world, you may find the change needed might not be in the area you think it is.
Which Thoughts Do You Need to Change?
This is the tough part as our thoughts are controlled by our beliefs and they are usually ingrained into our subconscious mind. Most of our core beliefs were inherited from others before we were able form our own. They are now part of our make-up and to challenge them is almost like attacking our self.
When you look to find out which thoughts or beliefs you need to change, in order to change your world, you’ll most likely find it’s the beliefs you have about yourself. That’s why they are hard to change.
You may find that you remember certain instances from when you were very young which still affect you today. I remember when I was 5 years old, in school there was a very strict teacher who would make the class sit in silence if it was raining and we couldn’t go out to play. She would sit in front of us holding a slipper and said that anyone who made a sound would get hit with it.
I would sit there, frozen with fear, frightened to even move my head slightly. She probably wasn’t as bad as I, a 5 year old kid thought, but I was terrified of her. Even today, when I think of that experience all those years ago, I can still feel that fear.
Although it isn’t a problem in my life today, I do sometimes feel a nervousness around people in authority and I believe that experience as a 5 year-old, is where it comes from. That’s a classic example of what might have been relevant in the past, is now irrelevant today. If you’re able to identify and understand where you need to make changes, it makes the next step easier.
Making the Changes
Some beliefs are easy to change. For example, there was most likely a time when you looked forward to Father Christmas coming to deliver your presents, well you eventually changed your beliefs there, didn’t you! Gathering facts can help.
It’s the deep-rooted beliefs about yourself that can be difficult to shift, you may need to reprogram your mind. Perhaps you’re a procrastinator (I’m very good at that), it may be because you’re afraid of failing or feel you’re not good enough. Whatever it is, it’s not the procrastination you have to work on, but the reason that’s causing it.
I think the reason I do it, is because I want the result of the task to be the best it can be. It’s not a fear of failing, more a worry it won’t come up to the high standard I expect it to be. I know I’m being too hard on myself and I deal with it by allowing myself to take time to complete the task. Yes, I might do it more slowly than someone else, but at least I’m getting it done.
My next objective is to very slowly reduce the time it takes to get these tasks done. Tiny changes can make a big difference. Using tools such as creative visualization, positive thinking and positive talking, together with repetition, will bring about change. Do it at your own pace and be prepared for some setbacks, but whatever you do, keep going.
You Can Change Your Thoughts and Change Your World
I’m sure if you think about it hard, you’ll be able to come up with a time where you’ve changed an opinion or belief, no matter how small, and it resulted in something in your world changing. Just over 20 years ago I was offered a job in a different part of the country, I didn’t want to move there, but took the risk and my world has completely changed – for the better!
It’s somewhere I definitely didn’t want to live, but is now somewhere I definitely don’t want to leave. The experience changed my opinion and opened me up to experience a whole new world. Just a small shift in a belief can have an enormous impact on your life. Be positive to change your thoughts and change your world, it doesn’t matter how small or how large, you’ll look back and be glad you did.