How thoughts affect our reality - and our ability to learn
Safeera Sarjoo

How thoughts affect our reality - and our ability to learn

How thoughts affect our reality

First published date June 07 2017 Amended date June 07 2017

There is a belief that our thoughts have the ability to affect our reality. 

Writing for Forbes, Amy Morin, a psychotherapist explains that drawing inaccurate conclusions about yourself can have an impact on your reality and hinder your potential. 

She wrote: 'Someone who develops the belief that he’s a failure, for example, will view each mistake as proof that he’s not good enough. When he does succeed at something, he’ll chalk it up to luck.'

If we take this example and think beyond that, our beliefs that impact our train of thought can lead us to missing opportunities that are actually good for us. 

Negative thoughts that come to mind can put people put off doing something out of their comfort zone. This could be out of fear, the unfamiliar or the belief that we may not emerge successful. 

Education is a good example of this. Going to a class when you think you left your student days behind you can be intimidating and can throw up a lot of doubts.

Guess what though? It's okay. We have a look at some common doubts you may have when taking a course and why it's not the end of the world if you find yourself thinking the following thoughts. 

'I'm out of my depth.'

I cannot tell you how many times I have felt this way in a combination of situations. It could be when presenting in a meeting or attending an event by myself.

There will be times where you question whether you’re cut out for new experiences but the most important thing is to persevere. When you take a training course or a class, you’re in the same boat as the other people there. Chances are nearly everyone is feeling the same way so take comfort in knowing that you’re not the only one. This is probably one of the most common thoughts people have. 

'Everyone knows more than me.'

You may be feeling inexperienced, which can knock your confidence especially if you see others cracking on without any glimmer of doubt. Remember, you have no idea what’s going through their minds. They be having those same negative thoughts as you and internalising their doubts.

'I want to leave.'

Another form of self-doubt can have you feeling as though you want to run as far away from your class as possible. Don’t do it. Having come this far to actually attend, find a seat, take a deep breath and allow the class to get underway. Trust yourself a little bit.                 

'What if I don't learn as fast as others?'

It's completely normal to compare yourself against someone else but the most important things is to not let it define your experience. Everyone learns at their own pace and there is no shame in this. Besides, this is the entire point of you going to a course - to learn!

It's a good idea to take Morin's advice and challenge your conclusions about yourself. Look at the labels you've put on youself and look for evidence to the contrary. 

'Take note of any times when your beliefs weren’t reinforced. Acknowledging exceptions to the rule will remind you that your belief isn’t always true,' Morin writes. 

'I'd rather not contribute.'

When I attended a School of Life talk, I was flabbergasted to find how many people were there. I immediately went into my shell and resigned myself to being a quiet observer. Now, there’s nothing wrong with this, but if you’re paying and taking the time to go to a course, wouldn’t you want to make the most of the experience? Some courses won’t require active participation but in the cases where learner contributions form a part of a class, it’s a good idea to least let your voice be heard once.

Had I not contributed or asked questions, I wouldn’t have got my money’s worth from that talk. You may also find that you’re the voice for other people within that room who perhaps feel too shy to pipe up.

'What shoud I do afterwards?'

Why thoughts like this arise, I have no idea. However this is a personal thought I always find myself thinking about when I’m at a seminar, workshop or course. Though it's unrelated, I use this as a way of rewarding myself. Going out of your comfort zone and battling negative thoughts can be draining so think about what would make you happy. A hot chocolate and some alone time? A chat on the phone with one of my close friends? Whatever it is that centres your contentment, make it a point to do that and use it as a reward for pushing the boat out and trying something new.


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Safeera Sarjoo

Safeera is Editor of Whatuni and a journalist from Kingston University. Always the inquisitive, her writing spans across a number of areas such as sustainability, fashion, lifestyle and now education. Her belief that you never stop learning and passionate nature has taken her to New York City as part of her degree and across the airwaves on national radio talking about the issues that matter to her.