An article by Dr. Heidi Lepper, Ph.D.

Practice + Belief + Time = Growth

I go with the hope that this formula I have derived is wonderfully useful for you. Many of us have a strong pull or desire to grow and to move forward in more positive ways, we have a strong pull or desire to eliminate the worry and concern and to move toward balance, we want to feel happier overall and less anxious in general, we want to feel more motivated and to stop the turmoil in our relationships. But how can we really work on that every day?

Write down this formula: Practice + Belief + Time = Growth

Now consider putting in numbers right now. How do you get more growth? By having greater values for practice, belief, and time of course. Many of us have great practice, we work hard, we give full effort, but we do not have great belief, we doubt and we worry, we think we are not ever good enough. Some of the rest of us do not work very hard, we are half-baked in our daily effort, but somehow we actually have great belief in ourselves. Then further some of begrudge time, for if only we had more of it, or it would just go by faster! In all honesty, which part of the formula do you need to add more value to to maximize your growth?

Practice: This means effort! You take in new information by talking to others or reading a ton, you learn some new way of doing something, you find a kernel of insight you had not had before. And then you add energy and effort, enthusiasm and fun to practice! Practice, practice, practice that new thing. The more compliant you are with your practice, the more growth you will have. The more enthusiastic you are in this, the more growth you will have. Sometimes you do have to fake a bit of the enthusiasm, but it works every time!

  • Commitment – tell others your plan and ask them to help you to practice. We are more likely to commit ourselves to a new path if we tell others about that path (that is why having a workout buddy keeps us going to the gym long past when we would have when going alone).
  • Reminders – write notes and leave them where you can see them, on your refrigerator, bathroom mirror, radio dial in the car. Use images whenever you can.
  • Adjustments – use a rubber band around your wrist and snap it when you feel you have reverted to the older method you are trying to change for instance. Besides doing something new, you have to get rid of the old ways.
  • Reward – find a way to reward yourself when you have practiced. Find a way to reward yourself when you know you have put in more effort than you have in the past. Inner, personalized rewards of feeling better about oneself is paramount, but you may also decide you want something else (for instance, a new pair of workout shorts when you gone to the gym consistently for an entire month).
  • Gratitude – write down a note once a week about how this idea of practice and effort is an opportunity for you, something to relish in, and be thankful for.
  • Think fun during all of your practice! When you go in thinking fun, your body will give you more energy for it! Whether that is to workout, to study, to be kinder, to listen better, the more energy you give the act, the more likely you will do it again.

Belief: This means to have true hope and faith in your ability to grow in positive ways, to believe in your ability to make this change and sustain the effort over time. To know that in order to do so you need to totally turn down the volume of negative thinking and blast the positive thinking. Belief means to trust the process that with practice and time you will master this new thing you are so wanting to master.

  • Pocket notes – get your negative thoughts written down, outside of yourself, and they will hold less power over you and thus you can keep on with the positive beliefs more easily. Stick these notes in your pocket, in a jar, or even in the garbage can.
  • Use sports – while many of us are not athletes we can all appreciate that in order to become a better athlete that person must practice the skill and technique and fitness level required to perform well. But is practice enough? No, you say. She must also believe in her abilities, believe in the process to be the best that she can be.
  • Cell phone reminders – use your cell phone to ring you now and again to stay positive! To continue to believe in practice + belief + time = growth.
  • Get a HUG! A good old fashioned hug from a friend will add a great deal to your belief in yourself. There is not much greater than hearing someone you love and respect tell you that they believe in you!

Time: Simply put if you practice and put in greater effort and believe in yourself and your ability day after day you still need more rather than fewer days to promote more growth, learning, and change. This is all a biological process, you are having to remove old pathways of thinking, feeling, and behaving that supported your old method, and having to replace that with new pathways of thinking, feeling, and behaving and that takes time! This process cannot be hurried up.

  • Sleep well – it is during our REM or dream cycles, which occur several times every time that our brains lay down the memories from our days, when the body does all of the cellular work. Our last dream cycle occurs right before we wake up and it is that cycle which is the longest in duration. Try to fit your life if at all possible around that last cycle (meaning try your best to get to bed on time so you do not disturb too much of this in the morning with an alarm clock).
  • Think medicine – in order for a drug to work in your body it has to build up enough of its amount to produce the healthy change, to overwhelm the disease process, and that takes time, right? Of course it does you say. Changing something from negative to positive in the way we think, feel, and act is absolutely no different! You have to build up enough of the new way to overwhelm that old way for it to work! How cool is that to think about!

Now apply this to something tangible: Being a better listener with your boyfriend or girlfriend, wife or husband, or children. Being more consistent with exercise and eating a healthier diet. Having more confidence in your abilities and talents. Staying motivated all semester long instead of only the first three weeks. Going to work every day with a greater spring to your step. Overcoming a fear of something. Feeling less anxiety over the future. Being kinder and gentler. Fulfilling a goal you thought unachievable. Learning a new technique or skill. Finding someone to love. Feeling happier.

Practice a new way, believe it will work, allow for some time, and it will happen!

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Copyright © 2009 Dr. Heidi Lepper, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.