Our beliefs have tremendous power over our lives. In fact, our belief about any situation will determine its outcome. It sounds pretty extreme, but it’s actually true. In order to more fully understand how this happens, let’s ask our first question:
What is a belief?
A belief is a sense of certainty that something is true. It doesn’t matter whether the thing in question is actually true or not, all that matters is that it is perceived to be true. Once the belief is in place, all thoughts and subsequent actions will be consistent with the belief. It is the thoughts and actions that come as a consequence of the belief that gives it all of its potential power. This is a double-edged sword because if the belief is positive and empowering, it will lead to positive and empowering results. On the other hand, if the belief is negative and disempowering, it will lead to negative and disempowering results. Don’t forget that beliefs need not be based in truth to be acted upon as if they are true.
Now that we know where the belief’s potential power comes from, the next question is:
Where do beliefs themselves come from?
Beliefs are ingrained into our minds starting at a young age. We get conditioned by our environment and learn what is right and wrong, good and bad, appropriate and inappropriate by those in proximity to our lives. This is why people of different cultural backgrounds have vastly different beliefs and views of the world. Acknowledging this fact has enormous power as well. This means that our beliefs came to us by default, not by design. This also means that if we take inventory of our beliefs and actively change them to empower us, we can have more control over our lives, and increase our quality of life.
This leads to the third question: How do we change our beliefs?
Beliefs are formed by the accumulation of references that are consistent with the belief. References can be real or imagined, and come from our own thoughts and experiences, or other people’s words or actions. For example, if you believe that you shy or timid, this may be because you feel nervous talking to new people you meet. It could be because you were told so, or it could be because you have a sense of apprehension if you are required to speak up. This doesn’t mean that you are a shy person per se, but rather, that your behavior is consistent with one who believes he or she is shy. In order to change your behavior, all you have to do is change your beliefs. In order to change your beliefs, all you have to do is change your references. For example, if you watch those who are confident and model their behavior, this can serve as positive reference. Also, if you force yourself to proactively go out to people and build rapport with them, this will give you a reference of self-confidence. In addition, reading about great leaders who changed the world by speaking up will provide the reference that if another person can do it, than certainly you can. Even just imagining yourself speaking with confidence can provide an imagined reference that can boost your self-esteem. This is how the power of visualization works.
Your call to action:
- Determine the outcome of a situation that you really want
- Ask yourself: “What would I have to believe in order to take action toward what I want?”
- Write down the outcome and the belief that is consistent with that outcome
- Build references that are consistent with the belief, and get rid of references that refute it
- Enjoy the process of self-actualization!