We can change the world with physical effort but we can change it with nonphysical effort too. The first layer of that is mental change—changing the mind. Self-help psychology taught me how to change my mind. And I was delighted to find that changing my mind produced corresponding change in my world. Sometimes my world changed quickly, with no physical input required. I told a story about such a time in last week’s blog post. Other times mental change sparked physical effort that helped change my world, the results necessarily slower. Always, in the background, I was learning, about my mind and about the world, and this prompted slow and steady mental change as well as corresponding slow and steady change in my world, improvement really, my career success an obvious example.
Our world will change if we change our minds. Changing our minds begins with changing our thinking. Of course, what we're ultimately doing is changing belief. A certain amount of thinking, when added up, produces a belief. More thinking produces more beliefs, and before we know it a subconscious network of beliefs has been woven. Well, thinking can unweave that network, if we so choose, the same way as it was woven, one belief at a time, and behind each belief one thought at a time. Self-help psychology can be our guide. Feelings will be involved, too. But like beliefs, I found that feelings too could be changed by changing my thinking.
I found that simple beliefs often changed in an instant, like my belief about a meaningful career. Deeper and more solidly settled or solidly held beliefs would only change with time and work, sometimes lots of time and lots of work. Deeper and more solidly settled or solidly held beliefs are usually interlinked with other beliefs. Sometimes the network of beliefs can seem like quite a tangle but patient work will usually reveal a pattern of connection, easier to unravel than a tangle. It's a process. I worked self-help psychology for 20 years exclusively and then worked it 20 more years in support of spiritual work. And I'm still working it today. But the change in my mind and me and my world—well worth the work required.
I didn't pay much attention to that first change, the one that began my real estate appraisal career. My boss liked me, saw my potential, and knew about a career that could change my life, that's what I told myself back then anyway. And I got busy with the practicalities of the new career. Self-help psychology had sunk its hook into me, however, and I was determined to keep reading and learning in the background of that career. Over the next 20 years, the second 20 years of my life, I read one self-help psychology book after another, hundreds in total. And I experimented with what I read. Life is a perfect lab for working with mind change. Initially I applied most of what I learned to my career. There were many practical reasons for my career success, of course, but changing my mind was the essence of it.
Mostly I changed old beliefs about me somehow being less than others, maybe less talented or skilled or likeable or acceptable or polished or professional. There were also old linked beliefs about something being wrong with me. Reweaving that pattern was work and did take time, but slowly and steadily I gained confidence in me, just as I was. Changing my mind in this way went out like a wave, changing the way I acted, dressed, spoke, felt, changing the way I was perceived, opening doors for me that otherwise wouldn't have opened. When the changes in me were received well, it sparked more change. And that wave went out and came back sparking more change, and so on and so on and so on. Looking back at my life at midlife, 20 years later, changing my mind had completely changed my world.