How-to change destructive beliefs in 3 steps

How beliefs influence our behaviour and life prospects. 

Our own thoughts, emotions, and experiences grow into deeply held beliefs over time. We can develop negative or positive beliefs about ourselves, others, or aspects of the world around us.

Here is a simple example:

A friend invites you to a party. You go and have a great time. Some months later your friend asks you if you want to come to another party. Your attitude about the party is positive. You are interested in the party and motivated to go because you had a great experience at the last party and believe that you will have a good time again.

Our beliefs influence our behaviour. In other words, our behaviour mirrors our beliefs. Therefore, you go to the party and behave in a way that supports the belief that you will have a great time.

The Brain - Beliefs are states of mind

Beliefs are states of mind – how we view the world around us.

They are our own individual perceptions that something is good or bad, positive or negative, looked at from our point of view.

These beliefs are the driving force behind our behaviour and they are the reason we appear motivated or demotivated.

However, the beliefs we form about ourselves and the world around us can hinder or help us. In other words, they can limit or enable our success and happiness.

Here is an example of a self-limiting belief:

You are bitten by more than one dog and form a belief that dogs bite you. As a result, your attitude about dogs is negative. You dislike dogs and are motivated to behave in such a way to avoid contact with them because your repeated experience is they will bite you. It is well known that not all dogs bite. Therefore, this type of belief can be described as self-limiting because you miss out on the companionship of friendly dogs.

Here is an example of a self-enabling belief:

Someone close to you is practical. As a young person, you help them to do some DIY. They are pleased with your results and tell you that you are good with your hands. Each time this experience is repeated, your perception that you are good with your hands is reinforced. In the future, when you are asked to do DIY, you will have a positive attitude about it and be motivated to behave in a confident way because you know you can do a good job. This type of belief can be described as self-enabling because you believe that you are good with your hands and can take on new DIY projects in the future.

Question-mark - More about beliefs

More about how beliefs are formed.

Every thought, experience, and emotion we have contribute to the formation of our beliefs, destructive or constructive. The more often we experience the same feelings, the stronger the belief grows.

Below are some of the many influences around us that impact the establishment of our beliefs:

  • Personal influences include – thoughts and emotional experiences, both bad and good.
  • Micro influences include – family, friends, schooling, and the local community.
  • Macro influences include – the media, government, and world affairs.

These personal, micro, and macro influences impact our lives, especially our early lives. Beliefs are often formed as we develop our ideas and opinions about the world around us.

Steps up - 3 steps to change beliefs

How-to change destructive beliefs in 3 steps

Once formed, it is hard to change a belief, especially a destructive one, but it is 100% doable. What is required is desire and an abundance of perseverance.

Re-framing a stubborn negative belief into a positive alternative is firstly about identifying the belief you want to change. Frequently ask yourself the below question and you’ll soon uncover unhelpful beliefs:


Is this belief leading me in a negative or positive direction?


The second step is about creating a new positive alternative to the negative belief. 

Then the hard work begins!

The third part of changing your mind requires motivation and willpower. It will not happen unless you are committed to seeing it through. It is a matter of consciously and consistently reminding yourself to think the new constructive thought every time the old destructive thought comes into your mind.

Strong coffee cup - Changing beliefs requires strength

Changing beliefs requires desire and perseverance

It is important to persevere, especially in the early days, because you simply will not believe what you are saying to yourself!

That is because the old thought is so well established and the new one is just that, new!

Think of the old thought as a six-lane motorway, well used and easy to travel along at speed. In contrast, your new thought is like a farm track with weeds growing on the rut in the middle, making it difficult to travel along. But with continuous effort and time, the farm track can become a new motorway – a route of least resistance that leads to a new belief AND a change in behaviour!

Here is a real life example:

Old destructive belief – “I am a stupid boy”.


This belief made me feel inferior to others and prevented me from achieving my potential.


New constructive belief – “I am an intelligent person”.


To begin with, I felt as though I was lying to myself – I simply did not believe I was intelligent! 


There was a fight inside my head. But each small success I achieved helped me to begin to believe my new thought. Today there is no question in my mind, no more internal arguments. I have changed my mind!

I hope this insight helps you and your children as much as it helped me!

Good luck, and remember to keep on keeping on. With determination, you will succeed, if I can do it, anyone can!

You may also like this post about How failures can support growth in children’s confidence – Mindscreen

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Helping Children Flourish

Gav Devereux

Author bio

Being diagnosed with dyslexia, labelled remedial, and regularly told that I was a “stupid boy” affected my self-esteem.

Worse still, I carried low self-worth into my adult life. Yet, later, when I learned how to challenge my destructive mindset, I began to feel happier.

I thought, if I can change my way of thinking, anyone can!

And so, in 1996 I founded Mindscreen and began developing resources to help children to believe in themselves and go after their dreams.

That’s how the Mindscreen experience® came into being. I hope it helps your children as much as it has helped me!