You are what you believe.
A group of employees were divided into 3 groups. One group was shown a presentation that confirmed the harm stress does to them. Moreover, the negative impact stress has on their abilities at work. It educated and reinforced the narratives around how stress can limit your creativity and impede your cognitive thinking. It can make you irritable and not communicate as affectedly with other people. All true stress symptoms.
Another group was told a different story about stress. They were given evidence that stress actually can enhance our abilities at work and beyond. Stress can cause us to deeply focus and problem-solve. Stress can give us strength in the moment and even boost our immunity in the short term. These are true symptoms of stress.
A third control group received no additional information either way.
A week later, the groups were given a questionnaire about what they believe about stress. The group that received the negative spin on stress agreed overwhelmingly that stress is debilitating.
The group given the positive angle on stress overwhelmingly agreed that stress was enhancing. The third group was fairly split.
A few weeks later, the participants were asked to give a public address. For most people, speaking in public is high on the fear spectrum. Even if you enjoy public speaking, there are elements of fear.
The group that believed stress is debilitating presented signs of being “stressed out.” They were not as open to feedback, which caused them to not get the best results in the exercise. That’s probably because their cortisol levels were higher than their baseline, meaning they experienced more acute “stressed-out” symptoms.
The group that believed stress was enhancing was given the same public speaking assignment & feedback as part of the activity. This group was open to and incorporated the feedback leading to better results. This group has overall lower cortisol levels which allows them to access more productive mental & emotionally balanced resources to the activity.
The third group again was a split baseline.
Each group performed in a high stress environment based on what they believed. The “debilitaters” were debilitated – performed weaker with worse results than the other two groups. The “enhancers” ultimately performed better with better results than the other two groups.
You are what you believe.
Our mind and our body support our beliefs. It’s the foundation for why so many successful leaders and performers get the results that they do. It also contributes to the plateaus, the ceilings of achievement as well as overwhelm & burnout.
The pursuit of greatness causes us to push the limits and edges. What we can extrapolate from the “stress study” is that what we think, how we feel and our actions will be based on our beliefs. Therefore, if we believe the “edges” of our current potential are scary, we’ll fall to that. If we believe that the edges are exciting, then we’re more likely to pursue it.
We can also extrapolate if we believe that we’re good enough, deserving and worthy of greatness, our mind and body will support that. If we believe, however, if there’s a limit to our deserving, worthiness or that we’re simply not good enough to do something, our mind & body will hold us back.
Here’s a way to tap into our beliefs.
Find an area of your life that is going really well and ask – “What belief(s) supports that success?” You’ll find some really empowering beliefs.
Find an area of your life – career, family, health – where you’re not living your fullest potential, have a barrier or not achieving all that you want. Ask yourself: “What belief(s) are creating this barrier?”
Much like the experience of stress as seen in the research study, there are multiple sides to the same coin. Which side we choose to believe will determine who we are.
You are what you believe. Change your beliefs, change your outcomes, change your world.