Beliefs are the assumptions we make about ourselves, about others in the world and how we expect things to be. Beliefs are about how we think things really are and what are the likely consequences that will follow from our behavior. Beliefs form the core of our existence and our reality. Our beliefs make the biggest contribution towards our accomplishments and the kind of life we live.
Your beliefs are your perceptions that form your version of your reality based on your experiences so far, your self image and your world view of the environment around you. Your reality is shaped by your experiences, what you have been told by people in your environment and what you tell yourself. Belief systems are programs that run in the subconscious mind. These programs have been formed and passed on to you through many generations. Beliefs are so powerful that you become what you believe consciously and subconsciously. If you believe life is a struggle then quite likely you will struggle through life because your brain gets programmed for struggle; if you think life is easy, it is quite likely you will have an easy going life. If you believe that you are heading for trouble, you will attract trouble in your life. If you believe that you do not have enough money, you will not have enough money.
Some examples of belief systems:
- I am very intelligent.
- No it’s not impossible.
- I am good at math.
- Men always cheat.
- My boss doesn’t like me.
- My colleagues are working against me.
- I am good for nothing.
- Things are not working for me.
In order to give meaning to the journey of life, answer the following questions for yourself.
- What do you believe, and why do you believe it?
- Have you given any thought at all to the belief systems you have?
- Did you make a conscious decision to believe what to do or what not to do?
- Did you just adopt your parents’, or others’ belief systems?
- Did you adopt some of your beliefs because you wanted to adopt them yourself?
- Do you make informed decisions, or you just decide arbitrarily?
- When you make an informed decision, what is the source of your information?
It may not be easy for some people to answer these questions. The answers to these questions and other similar questions will help you to find out where you are, and what is the starting point of your journey.
Empowering Beliefs and Limiting Beliefs
Beliefs are of two types – empowering or positive, and limiting or negative.
Empowering beliefs encourage, empower, inspire you to act in such a manner that you attract into your life the things you desire and help you to achieve what you want.
Limiting beliefs attract into your life what you don’t want. They limit your thoughts and actions and pave the way for failures.
Successful people continue to be successful even in the face of overwhelming difficulties because they cherish empowering beliefs. Similarly people having limiting beliefs invite failures one after the other. A couple of failures give pain, erode self esteem to some extent, increase fear of failure and create a negative reinforcement loop. This in turn establishes a pattern of failures and strengthening of limiting beliefs.
Therefore, to be successful consciously cultivate empowering beliefs and dismantle limiting beliefs.
How Beliefs are Formed
Let us understand how beliefs are formed so that we can prevent limiting beliefs from being formed and strive for the formation of empowering ones.
- Planting and Watering the Seeds
The belief formation process starts in early childhood when a seed in the form of thought is planted in your mind. This can be a command by an elder, a general remark made by a friend, an advice given by a relative or a suggestion by your spouse. Some of the examples of such seeds are:
“Anil is very arrogant”
“It is very hard to clear that exam”
“The economy is getting ”
These are examples of some seeds. Seeds settle into your mind whether you want it or not. Initially belief is not formed just by listening to such comments once. As you experience different situations that water this seed, it will grow and become a solid belief. In real life people keep skewed opinions and biased evidence, and this waters the seeds they already carry. For example the next time Sunil doesn’t wish you, you may think he is arrogant.
Some people have poor self image and they feel bad about themselves. This situation is the result of collecting false and frivolous evidence about themselves. They don’t realize their evidence collection process is biased and contributing substantively towards their poor self image. Sometimes parents or significant others in the family plant the seeds into the mind of the young child, and when the child grows up, he thinks he is inadequate, incompetent or worthless.
Corporate gossip is another example planting and watering seeds. Sometimes some people plant a seed about someone’s reputation at the workplace. Colleagues and seniors get carried away, start collecting biased evidence and develop a belief about this person. This process of planting and watering seeds has the power to destroy careers!
- An idea bypassing your filters constantly
Your conscious mind has the power to think, argue, evaluate, select or reject any idea. It acts as a filter for the subconscious mind. Sometime the information coming from a trusted source or when your conscious mind is in a distracted state or you are in a hypnotized state, the ideas coming from the environment bypass the filters of the conscious mind and lodge into the subconscious mind. These ideas turn into your beliefs. For example whatever is told to a small child by parents or teachers, becomes gospel truth for them. Another example is TV news. Even if a news channel has manipulated a particular news item, many people believe the TV story.
A substantial part of an individual’s belief systems develop during childhood by both the methods – planting of seeds by parents and elders, and ideas bypassing the filters of the mind constantly.
Preventing the formation of limiting beliefs
To prevent the formation of limiting belief systems, you need to learn to recognize seeds very early, challenge them, be aware that you do not water them, before they become strong. Monitor the words and phrases spoken by people around you. When you find that a seed is being planted in your mind, start challenging it. First of all be aware that a seed is being planted in your mind, look for solid evidence, be conscious that you do not collect biased clues, study it, evaluate it and then only accept or reject it. The same process can be adopted to challenge the beliefs which you are having already.
Changing a limiting belief system
You can change your limiting beliefs which prevent you from taking action. Examine your current belief systems, release the limiting beliefs and consciously choose empowering beliefs. Mentioned below are a few methods which you can use to change your limiting beliefs.
- Change your focus and move away from fear
Changing focus and moving away from fear is one way to dismantle a limiting belief. Remember that your past does not equal your future. Question your past performance and you will be able to discover the reasons and the source of the unsatisfactory results. Questioning your past performance will help you to change your internal focus away from fear and towards identifying the problem. When you are able to identify and define the problem clearly, finding a solution become easy.
We have a tendency to follow our belief systems blindly, without questioning or without doubting. When you question a belief system, you are able to understand the rationale behind it, accept or reject the rationale, and release the belief systems whose rationale you reject. You are able to move away from fear and readjust your focus.
- Link limiting beliefs to discomfort
Another way to dismantle a limiting belief system is to a pain or failure. Study the long -term results of some of your belief systems. Study the situations when you suffered emotionally, financially or in some other way by holding on to any limiting beliefs? When you are able to identify the belief systems which caused pain in the past and may cause you pain in future again, it is easier to let this belief system go and develop an empowering belief system in its place.
- Create domino’s effect
Each individual has some area in his life where he feels some measure of control and some level of confidence. Another effective way to dismantle a limiting belief system is to choose an area in your life where you have control. Set a realistic goal in this area and then take action. When you experience success, set another realistic goal in the same area and take action again. Continue this pattern and experience success repeatedly. After creating a positive reinforcement loop in one area, repeat the process in another area of your life. Repeating this process in different areas of your life will help you to enhance your confidence, create patterns of success, and develop and reinforce positive beliefs. When you are continuously engaged in the process of developing empowering beliefs, limiting beliefs get diluted automatically.
- Question yourself
Identify an area of your life which you want to improve. Ask yourself questions like:
- What is my current belief in this area of my life?
- What kind of belief I should have to succeed in this area of my life?
- What am I doing currently to achieve the desired results?
- What should I do differently to achieve the desired results?
- Do I already have any empowering belief in this area of my life?
- How can I apply the already existing empowering belief system to improve this area of my life?
Think through and write down the answers to the above questions. Spend some time dwelling on the answers to these questions, then start taking action when you develop faith that you will get the desired results by changing your beliefs. This process will help to develop empowering beliefs and dismantling limiting beliefs.
- Develop positive affirmations
Affirmation is a statement intended to provide motivation, encouragement and emotional support. It is a declaration or assertion that something exists or is true. The thoughts you create in your mind and the words you speak are your affirmations. Our self talk and inner dialogue are a stream of affirmations. Our subconscious mind is continuously affirming through the flow of our thoughts and our speech, and our affirmations create our life experiences.
You can create positive affirmations by writing short positive statements targeted at a specific area of your life. The language of affirmations has to be positive and in present tense. Positive affirmations help us to maintain focus on our goals, challenge and stem the flow of negative thoughts thus diluting the negative beliefs. Creating positive affirmations and repeating them with feelings several times a day in an aloha state for 21 days or more brings amazing results. Examples of some positive affirmations are:
- I have a wonderful family
- I have a wonderful job
- I have a wonderful spouse and my home is a paradise of peace and joy
- I am a very capable person
- My body is energetic and healthy
Effect of belief systems on life
Personal belief systems have huge impact on our life. Our beliefs create the quality of life we live and they play a role in how we view our life. Our successes and failures largely depend upon our personal belief systems – whether they have been built on optimism or pessimism . Our life is a reflection of our beliefs. If we believe we are heading for trouble, we will attract trouble in our life. If we believe we do not have enough money, we will not have enough money.
We can change your life by challenging our limiting beliefs and substituting them with empowering beliefs.
Categorised in: Confidence
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