The Common Psychological Trap The Most Successful People Refuse To Fall Into

You won't see the ways you self-sabotage until you stop falling for this sneaky mental trick.

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Have you ever wondered why some people seem to effortlessly radiate authenticity while others struggle to break free from self-doubt and insecurity? The answer lies in the intricate workings of the human mind and the profound impact our thoughts and beliefs have on shaping our reality.

Some would call it manifestation. Others frame it more simply, like pro surfing champion Layne Beachley, who told host Andrea Miller on the Open Relationships: Transforming Together podcast, "What we fear, we attract."


Our brains are powerful

At the heart of this dilemma is a simple yet profound truth: the way we focus our attention shapes our perception of ourselves and the world around us. This phenomenon is deeply rooted in psychology and has far-reaching implications for our personal growth and success.

That's why the most successful people refuse to focus on the negative.

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Psychologists have long studied the power of cognitive processes such as attention and perception in shaping human behavior. One key concept that has emerged from this research is the idea that our minds operate like powerful filters, selectively processing information that aligns with our beliefs and expectations while filtering out anything that contradicts them.

When we focus our attention on what we don't want to be, whether it's our perceived flaws, shortcomings, or the aspects of our lives that we wish were different, we inadvertently reinforce those negative beliefs and perceptions. This sets off a chain reaction in our minds, triggering feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and dissatisfaction.

Then it gets worse because we mope, we sulk, we focus on it.



"We place everything that we judge out there, and then we become that because we are focusing on what we don't want to become," says Beachley. "Then we spend more time trying not to be something so then we're sabotaging our authentic selves to be something that we're not and that becomes a vicious cycle."


Dwelling on the negative can activate the brain's stress response system, flooding our bodies with hormones like cortisol that can impair cognitive function, suppress immune function, and increase the risk of anxiety and depression. In essence, by focusing on what we don't want, we're sabotaging our mental and physical well-being.

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We can choose to shift our focus 

When we shift our focus to what we do want to be, we activate a different set of cognitive processes that have the opposite effect. We cultivate a more empowering and optimistic mindset by directing our attention toward our strengths, aspirations, and the positive aspects of ourselves and our lives.



Creating a cascade of psychological mechanisms that work in our favor

For example, when we visualize our goals and imagine ourselves succeeding, we activate the brain's reward system, releasing neurotransmitters like dopamine that enhance motivation, focus, and goal-directed behavior.


Similarly, when we practice gratitude and acknowledge the blessings in our lives, we activate brain regions that correlate with positive emotions and social bonding, fostering a greater sense of well-being and connection with others.

Manifestation isn't some woo-woo hocus pocus, it's psychology. 

So the next time you catch yourself dwelling on what you don't want to be, remember the transformative power of shifting your focus.


Embrace a different way of seeing the world and watch as you unleash your most authentic self and the life of your dreams.

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Deauna Roane is a writer and the Editorial Project Manager for YourTango. She's had bylines in Emerson College's literary magazine, Generic, and MSN.