Three Myths of the Mind That Sabotage Even the Most Motivated Achievers

Published: Apr 03, 2019
Modified: Mar 26, 2020

By: Douglas Vermeeren

Our attitude toward work and the way we think and feel about certain concepts have direct results in the workplace.For one, they can affect our results. Fortunately, these thoughts can be challenged and put aside, producing better performance. The means of change is to put aside three myths. 

Myth of the Mind #1: Negative Thinking Cannot Be Changed
The human mind is a busy entity. It has been estimated that the human mind creates more than 70,000 thoughts every day. However, more than 85% of those thoughts are negative. That is a lot of negativity and a lot of wasted brainpower.

Negative thinking is defined as any kind of thinking that does not contribute, edify, or build the person. A person who dwells on negative thinking becomes more depressed, bitter, unhappy. and frustrated. Perhaps a better way to describe such thoughts would be as “contributing” thoughts or “nonproductive” thoughts. Each has a different value in terms of how they will empower or limit your life and work. Nothing in thought processes is ever black and white; everything is varying degrees of gray.

Employees should seek out thoughts that will allow them to become the best that they can become and reach their fullest potential. Our thoughts are a critical factor for us to create successful outcomes. No matter whether our thinking is positive or negative, our reality is shaped by what we think.

The challenge with directing your thinking patterns is that it is easier to talk about thought patterns than it is to create them. If we have been engaged in habitual negative thinking, positive thoughts will not always come naturally or easily. The more you train your brain to think in positive ways, the more you will expect, act on, and create empowering outcomes. Long-term participation in certain thinking narrows your view of what is possible.

The good news is that all thinking patterns can be changed, even the negative ones. As your thinking is given deliberate leadership, you can direct it to predetermined and desired patterns of thinking. For change in thought to be lasting, you need an awareness of your thoughts, an awareness of the process required to change, and a commitment to change. Once the process is understood, your thinking will change, and you can then have and feel greater success than your current thinking will allow. With a change of thinking, your external results in life and work will also change.

Myth of the Mind #2: Our Filters of How We See Things Come from the Past
A filter determines how we see the world based on our values, beliefs, and expectations. If you were to ask the average person about their thinking patterns, you generally wind up with answers like these two: ”My thoughts and beliefs come from the way I was brought up,“ ‘My thinking is the result of what I have experienced in the past.“

Sometimes people even state it as part of their identity and attach it to genetics: “I am this way because of my father,” or “I am a red head; we have bad tempers.” You may have also heard thinking attached to culture or ethnicity,”I am French, and we are gentle and amorous.” In an office setting you may also see the results of this thinking, “I am in IT, so I am withdrawn and socially awkward,” or “I am a salesman; we are loud and manipulative.” These are all elements that have to do with the past, or a context the individual is attached to in some way.

The moment “now” is also part of your past. Technically, what you are currently experiencing is part of your past. Think about it: the second you have had an interaction or experience your interpretation of it becomes a part of your past. The moment we call “now” is always becoming part of your past.

While we depend on the past, the most important filter you use is the future. Your future thinking is like a magnet pulling your thoughts in the direction you believe to be most beneficial for you. It is estimated that most people spend an average of 80% of their effort thinking about future events. Unfortunately, most combine them with their filters of the past and get negative results.

When we become aware of our filters the picture suddenly becomes clearer and it is easier to perform productive thinking especially about future outcomes. If you can learn to direct your most productive thinking through the filtering process, you can make it a reality.

Myth of the Mind #3: The Brain Stops Developing After a Certain Age
The majority of people still believe the notion of the older you get, the slower and more difficult your thinking and learning abilities become. These same people often reinforce these beliefs with the following descriptions, “That’s just how I am,” or “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” or “If I was 20 years younger, I would do it.” This is why some members of older generations do not use computers, e-mail, or the Internet, hampering their job skill set. This idea of a mental slow-down is false and comes from inaccurate conditioning in our society.

Modern studies have shown even seniors still have the capacity to reshape their thinking and effect physical changes on their brain. The scientific name for this principle is called Neuroplasticity. Your brain is continuously changing according to the leadership that you give it. There is no limit to what and when you can learn.

For example, Wanda is in her midforties. She went to college, but due to some challenging situations that occurred in her life, she had to drop out. She never finished the coursework for her degree. She went on to have a successful life as a mother, and reared two really great kids. They are now getting ready to head off to college. This has prompted Wanda to think about the opportunity she missed: never graduating.

Aware of her feelings, Wanda’s kids and employer have challenged her to return to school as a mature student. Her initial transcripts from the first time around were great and the college is eager for her to reenroll. However, Wanda doubts she can learn like the younger students. Though she realizes her possible increase in business potential, she is worried she is simply too old to jump back in.

Earlier generations of brain experts would have told her that once she left childhood, her brain became static and unchanging. They would have said that learning becomes much more difficult, if not impossible for adults. Now, studies have found the opposite to be true.

By tackling these Myths of the Mind, we can create a better life for ourselves, which includes more satisfaction and better production at our jobs. Believe in the power of your mind, it is one of the most powerful tools you possess.

Douglas Vermeeren
is the director of the SUCCEED Research Center, which is dedicated to sharing research on the systems that top achievers use to create lasting success. Over the last decade Vermeeren has interviewed more than 400 of the world’s top achievers, including business leaders, celebrities, and professionals and athletes. He is the producer of the film How Thoughts Become Things. For more information, visit: or