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Are Your Beliefs Sabotaging Your Success?

“Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.” – William James

We all have two types of beliefs, explicit and implicit.  Your habits are mainly formed or created around your beliefs. Now, based on this, you can see the importance of your beliefs, they dictate what habits you create. As human beings, we are creatures of habits, we are what we repeatedly do. So, our dreams and success in life is fully dependent on our beliefs and habits.

In the field of neuroscience, our beliefs are classified as explicit and implicit.

Explicit Beliefs

These are conscious and simple beliefs like “I am able to make more money.”; “I am able to lose weight.”; “I am able to have great relationships.” “I deserve to live a happy life.” So, an explicit belief is that belief that is easy to verbally share with others.

Implicit Belief

This is the belief that is much more deeply rooted in the brain, specifically the unconscious brain. There’s a part of your brain called cerebellum which manages many of the ingrained and conditioned motor skills and behaviours. So, here is the problem which most people don’t understand – if these two types of beliefs are in opposition with each other, your unconscious one – implicit belief, will almost always win and cause you to sabotage your thoughts and your dreams because you’ll not be able to take action because of this major conflict which is called cognitive dissonance. This is the main reason most people keep on procrastinating on what they know they should be doing.

Our hidden dis-empowering implicit belief can be the one that says to yourself, “I am not good enough.”; “I am not smart enough.”; “I don’t deserve the goal or dream that I want to achieve.” And that’s lurking in your subconscious mind. Even when you have an explicit belief that you can declare, that is in opposition of the implicit belief, you will unfortunately succumb to the unconscious implicit belief and you’ll take actions that match: “I’m not smart enough; I don’t deserve my goals and dreams; I’m not good enough, etc”.

I know this so intimately because I personally went through a lot of this. I had this outwardly explicit belief that “I was good enough and smart enough” to achieve my desired goals but when it came down to it, my hidden unconscious implicit belief that I wasn’t worthy of my dreams and goals finally had an easy victory over my explicit beliefs. Later on, I would feel guilty and this would further add to the evidence that I wasn’t good enough which hugely dented my self-esteem. It wasn’t until I learned the difference between the two beliefs that I started working on releasing the negative implicit beliefs that held my beautiful future by the scruff of the neck and resulted in me sabotaging my performance and dreams. It is this awareness and through coaching that I received which helped me create coherence – the alignment between conscious and unconscious beliefs and goals in the brain. This awareness subsequently got me on this fascinating journey of achieving dreams and helping others understand themselves better through my neuro-talks, neuro-coaching and neuro-leadership training programs to really help them unleash their brain power just like I learned how to.

When we are talking about the conscious and unconscious brain, it’s all about your brain being like divided into parts, one – a very small part it, about 10% of it being the conscious and the remaining 90% of it being the unconscious part, which based on the above given percentages easily becomes the driver, 90% vs10%. Let’s say your conscious brain represents the baby and the unconscious the parent or in the workplace setup, conscious brain represents the one being led/managed while the unconscious being the leader/manager. Now, the baby or the one being led may come up with a brilliant and life-changing idea to make the family or organization successful but only to find that the ‘powers that be’ don’t agree or see it that way. The one that wins is the ‘the powers that be’. This is not because they are right and the suggested idea is wrong, but simply because they don’t believe it will work and won’t give a go-ahead irrespective of how brilliant it is. This is basically the relationship between the conscious and the unconscious brains. It’s about whose belief is strongest especially in instances of disagreements.

Your unconscious brain is solely responsible for your thoughts, emotions and behaviours, you have to create alignment so that what you think, feel and behave are in harmony or coherence with both parts of your brain. Think of a movie actor getting a script that they don’t know anything about, except the high-level information they’ve been given by the agent, they don’t have any unconscious patterns for the script, they just look at it consciously. Once they make a decision that they want that role and that the money is worth it, they have to work on creating the alignment between the two brains – conscious and unconscious.

To achieve this coherence, they read it daily over and over again with their eyes closed while visualizing their role. They study and rehearse the actor’s role, vocabulary and tonality, etc.  They do this over and over and over again. This is one way of creating coherence in the brain.

In closing: Yes, you may believe all you can at a conscious level (which is what your normal external motivation does), but until there’s an agreement/coherence between your conscious and unconscious, what your subconscious brain believes will win hands-down and your success will be sabotaged.

Well, I hope I’ve given you enough information for you to get started on this journey of self-awareness. This is what my neuro-talks, neuro-coaching, neuro-leadership interventions are all about, helping leaders and teams unleash their brain power.

Veli Ndaba is a Neuro-Conscious Leadership Speaker and Trainer, Life & Business Coach, Motivational Speaker and Author of four books (You Are Born to Win, Your Dream is Calling You and SWITCH ON! And Set Your Soul On Fire!), Newspaper Columnist and Entrepreneur. To book him to speak at your next event or to help you and your team unleash your greatness, contact him on, or +27 83 304 9773