Affirmations alone won’t do the trick. To really change, you’ve got to make it a part of who you are.
Let’s say you’re trying to become wiser. Just saying ‘I am wise’ doesn’t quite cut it. What you need is a true belief, the kind that gives you a good feeling every time you face a wisdom test.
As Derek Sivers says, when we grow up, we won’t believe anything unless we’re convinced that it’s true.
It’s easier to believe in things you’ve seen and felt. That’s where self-journaling and your role models come into play. The goal is to create a vivid story about yourself as a wise person and dive into it until it’s part of your identity.
“The most powerful things that change our behavior and our character are the stories we tell ourselves”
Look for examples
Look up role models of people or fictional characters whom you consider wise. Search for a story about a moment when they had to make a decision that showed their wisdom. Immerse yourself in these stories. Imagine how they felt when they made that wise decision.
Look for evidence
Seek out evidence of your own wise choices. Think about a time when you had to make a tough decision and felt wiser afterward. Try to remember what led you to make that wise decision. How did it feel in the moment and afterward? What were you thinking?
If this is hard for you, talk with your inner circle (friends, family, coworkers). They can often see your virtues much easier than you can.
Now, imagine yourself as a wise person. What principles guide your actions? What are your beliefs about wisdom? What does your inner monologue look like? And, most importantly, what’s the feeling you get when being a wise person and making those wise choices? Let yourself bask in those sensations.
So, when you’re right in the middle of a decision that calls for wisdom, ask yourself, ‘What would [insert role model’s name] do?’.
If you have a hard time with this, you can try the opposite and ask yourself, ‘What would someone foolish do in this case?’
This works because of something called cognitive dissonance. When your beliefs sync up with your actions, your mind’s at ease, and that’s where the magic unfolds.