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Overcoming Mediocrity: 7 Beliefs to Challenge for Personal Growth

One of the most important things to understand when it comes to self-improvement is that there are common patterns of belief in those who are happy and successful vs. those who seem to always struggle and stagnate.

Just as there are common beliefs in happy and successful minds, there are also common beliefs in mediocre minds that don’t ever seem to change, grow, or improve.

It is important that we become more aware of these belief patterns and how they may be influencing our lives and the choices we make.

In this article, I will summarize 7 core beliefs that often halt our change, growth, or improvement. Most of these beliefs are ones I’ve held in the past, so I know first-hand how devastating they can be when it comes to holding us back.

7 Beliefs in “Mediocre Minds” That Often Halt Growth

Here are 7 common beliefs found in “mediocre minds.” Do you recognize any of them in yourself? How is this type of thinking holding you back and halting your growth?

1. “This is just who I am.” – One of the biggest causes of mediocrity is the belief that “This is just who I am.”

This reflects a fixed self that implies you will always be a certain way because that’s how you were in the past. So, when people adopt this mindset, they don’t see any point in trying to change themselves because they see it as hopeless and impossible.

However, the truth is people change all the time. And some research even shows that people change a lot more than they realize over the course of a lifetime.

Our sense of “self” is dynamic and constantly evolving depending on new experiences and new things we learn. Compare who you are now to who you were 5, 10, or 20 years ago and you’ll likely find some big changes have occurred along the way.

Embracing this dynamic self is absolutely essential for self-improvement and self-growth. Once you accept that you are always changing, you’ll begin to take more power over the ways you change.

2. “Nothing ever works out.”

Another common belief that halts our growth is “Nothing ever works out.”

Often our mistakes, failures, and disappointments stick in our minds stronger than our accomplishments. Many of us have a negativity bias because our minds are naturally focused on “fixing problems” rather than “reflecting on the good.”

Unfortunately, due to this bias we sometimes mistakenly believe that “nothing ever works out” or “nothing ever goes my way.” But upon deeper reflection, we can often prove ourselves wrong by challenging our beliefs and actively finding examples to the contrary.

It’s important that we take the time to step back and remind ourselves of times when we did succeed or do something great. Even if it’s something small or trivial, it’s evidence that we can do good.

One healthy exercise is to create a jar of awesome (where you write down past accomplishments on little sticky notes and collect them in a jar). Then when you’re feeling down, take out a random note to read it and remind yourself of those positive memories.

3. “I don’t deserve happiness or success.”

Another major roadblock to self-improvement is the belief that “I don’t deserve happiness or success.”

Many people suffer from very low self-esteem and low self-worth, so they simply believe that “happiness” or “success” (however we define them) aren’t meant for us, but for other people who deserve them more.

But who is to decide what we deserve? Nobody that achieves happiness is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes and must learn to forgive themselves.

Maybe you have a really troubled past. Maybe you’ve even hurt people or let them down. Feeling guilty about these bad decisions is natural (and even healthy, in the right doses). But at the end of the day, you must learn to forgive yourself completely.

If you don’t fundamentally believe that you deserve happiness or success, then they will always be out of reach to you. You might even sabotage yourself when you start getting too close.

I’m here to tell you that everyone, including yourself, deserves happiness or success in some form. And hopefully, you can start believing that too.

4. “Everyone else is to blame.”

One of the most destructive beliefs in mediocre minds is that “Everyone else is to blame.”

While certainly we are born into circumstances that aren’t in our control, and bad things can happen to us that we don’t deserve, at the end of the day you need to take some responsibility over your choices and actions if you ever want to make a real change in your life.

Too often people try to shift the blame away from themselves and onto others. We try to blame our parents, our teachers, our friends, or society at large for why our lives are the way they are.

Some people even get a degree of pleasure by pointing out all the ways they are a victim of their circumstances. “Poor me!” is one of the many psychological games people play to avoid making a change in their lives.

The biggest problem with this mindset is that we begin to identify ourselves as nothing but a victim, so we have no motivation to try to improve ourselves or our life circumstances. By doing this, our victimhood begins to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

It’s important to break the cycle of blaming others if you ever want to make a change in your life, otherwise, it’ll be nearly impossible.

5. “I’m not ready to take action yet.”

Another common hurdle that halts people’s growth is the idea that “I’m not ready to take action yet.”

Many of us have goals and aspirations that have been lingering in our minds forever, but when it comes to taking any type of action on these goals we come up with a bunch of excuses.

For example, many people think they need to learn more or do more research first, so they become information junkies – constantly consuming new articles, books, and videos about a topic, but never taking any of the information and applying it to their daily lives. It’s like watching video after video about exercising, but never stepping foot in a gym.

In a similar way, people wait for the “perfect moment” or “perfect timing” to start making a change, but that moment rarely comes. This is a symptom of perfectionism which often eats away at our happiness and causes us to endlessly procrastinate in our lives.

The truth is you can’t wait for the stars to align, sometimes you just need to start where you are and jump right in. Start taking small steps and begin moving in the right direction; because without action, progress is impossible.

6. “I have to meet other people’s expectations.”

One of the most pervasive beliefs that hold us back is the idea that “I have to meet other people’s expectations.”

We often get trapped into chasing other people’s versions of happiness and success rather than our own. Thus, we end up making life choices and career choices based on the approval of others, but neglect to take into account our own personal values.

You can do everything by the book based on what society tells you to do, but you won’t necessarily find happiness if those values don’t match your own.

While you shouldn’t rebel against society just for the sake of rebelling, you should be skeptical of how society’s expectations shape your decisions in life, and whether or not that influence is healthy for you.

To a degree, most happy and successful people “stand out” from society in some way, because they are willing to follow their own vision for how they want to live, even if it deviates from what others expect.

7. “I feel comfortable in my current situation.”

The last core belief behind mediocre minds is that “I feel comfortable in my current situation.”

In fact, most people don’t change or improve because they feel safe keeping things the same. In psychology, many of us have a status quo safekeepingbias, where we prefer things that are familiar and known to us and try to steer away from what is unknown.

If our current situation is “good enough,” there’s no real incentive to want to change it, even if in the long-term your current patterns may lead to something much worse.

One way to snap yourself out of this mindset is to zoom out and try to see the bigger picture.

For example, if you were to keep doing everything you are doing right now, would you still be happy in the future? If your answer is “Yes,” then maybe you really don’t need to change anything in your life.

However, if you zoom out into the future and think your current path will leave you unsatisfied or unfulfilled, then that may be a sign you should start changing things now to build a better future.

Don’t settle for less just because it feels comfortable or safe. You only live one life, why not aim to make the most of it?

All of these beliefs can contribute to “mediocre minds” and “mediocre people.” For those of us who seek more out of life, we’re going to need to ditch these unhelpful beliefs and create new ones that better serve ourselves and our goals.

Which beliefs above do you relate to the most? How are they influencing your life?

The original publication can be found by visiting Brainz.

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Picture of Dr. Sydney Ceruto

Dr. Sydney Ceruto

A Pioneer in Neuroscience-Based Coaching

As the founder of MindLAB Neuroscience, Dr. Sydney Ceruto has been a leading force in integrating neuroscience into coaching and counseling for over two decades. With three master's degrees in psychology and two PhDs in behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, she is widely considered a top expert in her field.

Harnessing the power of neuroscience-based coaching, Dr. Ceruto's innovative approach focuses on neuroscience, neuroplasticity, and neural pathway rewiring to foster lasting positive change in mental health.

Dr. Ceruto holds esteemed memberships in the Forbes Executive Council, Positive Performance Alliance, Wharton Executive Education Program, the International Society of Female Professionals, and executive writing positions for Alternatives Watch, Brainz Magazine, and TED: Ideas Worth Spreading.

Dr. Ceruto's accomplishments include:

  • The 2022 CREA Award.
  • A lead research position at NYU Steinhardt.
  • Volunteer work with Covenant House and the National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI).

Her science-backed method of Neural Rewiring has successfully guided thousands of clients toward happier, more productive, and more resilient lives.