Our subconscious is filled with rules, do’s, don’ts, and “truths” we’ve been collecting since childhood.
There’s not enough time, so hurry.
No matter what you do, it must be the best.
Work hard to get ahead.
These rules make up a hidden instruction manual we use to evaluate ourselves and other people.
At work, we have additional instructions. Whole sections of the manual warn us not to trust our competitors (they’ll steal your clients), prescribe employee behavior (they should be faster), and dictate how we should show up (never let anyone know you’re worried).
Most of the time, we’re unaware of this manual, but it guides our actions anyway. The instructions are beliefs that form a lens through which we see the world. The brain automatically notices and finds evidence to reinforce our beliefs, making it seem as though they are “true.”
It’s not bad to have a manual; it saves your brain from decision fatigue. The trick is to periodically examine your manual and update your beliefs, so they work for you.
To do this, start by noticing how you feel. When you’re feeling frustrated or overwhelmed, ask yourself these questions: