What do you Believe?
Our beliefs massively effect our ways of being and operating in the world and we create them as we go through life. Unfortunately, there are times when we create beliefs that limit us, paralyse us and stop us from moving forwards. These are the ones we need to identify and then start to address in order to move on.
Where our beliefs start
We often create our beliefs as a response to early experiences in our life when we come up against new and unexpected situations. We need to make sense of these so we look at what is going on, how those around us are responding and we create a belief around the situation to bridge the gap in our learning.
This belief provides us with understanding and as we continued to function, we recognised this and when faced with similar situations, we applied this belief and realised it allowed us to ‘know’ what to think/do/react at those times. After this had happened a few times, we stored the belief as a reliable fact and mistook it for the truth rather than a useful approximation that worked for us at the time.
Medical science know that our beliefs about how a treatment will work effects the outcome. Every new drug is therefore tested against a placebo which is a ‘fake’ drug, one that contains no medicinal properties but looks like the real one and is administered in the same way. Only if the drug outperforms the placebo, is it released for use.
There are many amazing stories on the power of the placebo effect, where people have been ‘cured’ by nothing more than a sugar pill and the belief that they are receiving a certain drug. What is also interesting, is when certain side effects are expected with particular drugs, those taking the placebo also suffer the same side effects.
When we respond to placebos, we are activating our beliefs and our own astonishing self healing powers.
How easy is it to change your beliefs?
This is always an interesting question as people have beliefs about how easy it is to change their beliefs.
If you think about when children believe in Father Christmas, they do so whole heartedly, he is real! And then something happens that challenges their belief. If they are ready, they let go of the belief and accept the new learning that he doesn’t exist and move on with their lives.
Think about a time when your beliefs were challenged – did you hang onto and dig your heels in, not willing to question it? If you did, this was because you weren’t ready to let this belief go so therefore you fought to keep it.
Keeping your beliefs in check
Start by checking in to see if what you are thinking about is a belief or a fact. A fact is something that is documented and can be authenticated whereas a belief is an opinion we created about something and stored it as fact.
Beliefs quite often pop up in conversations about who you are, how you are feeling or operating and tend to nag at you. Typical ones we hear are I can’t…, I have no willpower, I am an anxious person, she is shy, I don’t deserve… etc.
Once you identify any beliefs you have that have been reoccurring, ask yourself whether they are they useful to you. If they are limiting, destructive or negative in any way, they will be holding you back and keeping you from achieving what you want to in life.
Now you have identified a belief that is limiting you, you need to start to address this in order to move forwards. Start by thinking about what you want to believe instead and then look for evidence to support this new thinking in order to start to develop and reinforce your new belief in that particular area.
So for example, someone believing they can’t diet because they have no willpower can reflect on times when they had the focus and commitment to achieve their goal – this doesn’t have to be diet related, just confirmation of their brilliant willpower to do something well. Once they have this evidence, anytime their old belief pops up, they can simply remind themselves of the times when they succeeded and reinforce the new belief.
A story that demonstrates this brilliantly is when Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile in 1954. Up until then, no-one believed that it was humanly possible to do this and many athletes got just outside of the four minutes but never broke it. That was until Roger Bannister questioned and reviewed this belief and his strategy and then with a team pacing him, he broke that record. Once it had been proven that it was possible, a number of his close competitors started to run a mile in under four minutes too.
It is amazing once you can break through those limiting beliefs, you can achieve something remarkable.
I thought I’d finish this article with a great quote by Henry Ford: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”
Much of the work Claire and I do in the clinic is around beliefs and helping people to address them and move forwards. If you have any questions or would like to arrange a chat about how we can help you, contact me or leave a comment below.