To flourish, you need to release basic negative mindsets (Permanent, Personal, Pervasive) so that you make way for those that will serve you (Temporary, Specific, External). Along with releasing the limiting parts of your general mindset, it’s also critical to release your “personal demons.”

Emotional Demons

A personal demon can also be a specific limiting emotion such as fear of public speaking or guilt about succeeding where others fail. It can be intense anger at authority figures (something common to unconventional thinkers!) or sadness about lost opportunities in the past. It’s not that anger and sadness aren’t appropriate at times. But a negative emotion becomes a personal demon when it gets lodged in your body and causes you to react unconsciously in ways that block your success.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

A personal demon can also be a specific limiting belief. Any phrase that sets up like “I’m not ________ enough” is a demon. “I’m not smart enough,” “I’m not strong enough,” “I’m not young enough” – all of those are demons that can and should be released. They may sound “true” but you can always find an exception to them. And whether they are “true” or not, hanging onto any of these beliefs does you no good. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right!”

There have been numerous studies on self-fulfilling prophecies or how our beliefs become reality. One positive example is the placebo effect. In many medical studies, subjects who received placebos often felt improvement in their health despite the fact that what they were given had no medicinal value. Because these patients believed they were given something to aid healing, they often actually experienced healing.

Self-fulfilling prophecies are a double-edged sword. Studies have shown that positive prophecies or beliefs lead to positive results. But the reverse is true as well: negative beliefs lead to negative results. Harvard professor Dr. Robert Rosenthal analyzed results of over 300 studies on the subject. In several classroom experiments, children were randomly divided into two classes. The teacher in the first class was told that her students were high achievers. The teacher in the second class was told that her students were underachievers who needed special help.

There was no difference in levels of ability between the two classes at the beginning of the school year. Yet by the end of the school year, the students who were labeled high-achievers were performing above-average for their grade level while students labeled as underachievers were doing below-average work. This has as much to do about the teacher’s beliefs and how she perceived the children as it did the children.

These self-fulfilling prophecies were based on false beliefs yet they still came true. And whether your limiting beliefs are about yourself or those around you, your unconscious will help you make them come true as well.

A belief is not just what you tell yourself consciously, it’s your expectation. For instance, you can spend all day telling yourself that you can be a great success. But ask yourself: What do you really expect? What you really expect is your belief and may be one of your demons if it is getting you results you don’t want. It’s where your unconscious is focusing its power. That’s your self-fulfilling prophecy. You can only re-direct that power and achieve a different result by removing that belief.