What are beliefs?
So, what are beliefs? A belief is a concept about the nature of the way the external environment expresses itself. They're the things we think are true. Beliefs can be positive or negative, but they all have one thing in common: they're not always based on fact. Sometimes our minds make up reasons why something won't work out--even though there's no evidence to support those ideas.
Beliefs help us make sense of our world and give us direction for how to act in it. If a belief has been formed by experience and logic, then it's reasonable for you to accept it as valid (and act accordingly). However, if your beliefs aren't based on evidence or rational thinking--for example if you learned them when you were young from people around you--then these kinds of assumptions may need reevaluating later on down the road!
There is a wonderful story about a lady who whenever she was cooking ham, she would first cut the edges of the ham and throw them away. Her husband was watching it for a couple of times, as she repeated this behavior. Since it didn’t make sense to him, he decided to ask her: “Why do you always cut the edges of the ham and throw them away?” She told him: "This is how I learned to cook the ham, but when I think about it, I don’t know why I do it, I just learned it from my mom." On the next visit at her mom’s place they posed the question, trying to find out what the deal is with the ham cutting. Her mom also said she does it every time, but without knowing why, again learning it from her mom, the grandma. So all three decided to find out and they visited the grandma. After asking the question, the grandma said: “Well, I always cut the edges of the ham, because my cooking pan is simply too small, so I won’t fit the whole piece of ham there.”
Sometimes we hold beliefs about the world or ourselves that come from someone else, from different age or different environment and they make us acting in ways that are not particularly beneficial or even necessary.
The limiting beliefs
Beliefs are the basis of our decisions and actions. The beliefs you have about yourself, other people and life in general will influence what you choose to do or not do.
If a belief is limiting, it can hold back your growth as a person. For example, if you believe that it's impossible for someone like you to achieve great things then this could prevent you from taking action towards achieving those goals because deep down inside there is an underlying fear that if you try hard enough then something bad might happen (like failing)
If you have a limiting belief, this might be a potential mental block that prevents you from achieving what you want in life. In order to remove this block, it's important to identify the belief and then replace the belief with empowering belief that moves you closer to your goals.
How beliefs are formed in our mind
Beliefs are formed in our unconscious mind. The unconscious mind is the part of your mind that is not conscious. It contains all your memories, beliefs and opinions about yourself and the world around you.
It's where many of your habits are stored too; things like how you handle stress or when you go to bed at night can be affected by what goes on here! The unconscious mind is responsible for a lot of our behavior, but it doesn't always make the best decisions. The main reason behind this is that our unconscious mind prefers what is familiar, not works the best. Cutting the ham is familiar, but it isn't necessarily the best course of action to take.
Our beliefs were all acquired in a combination of ways. Many of the beliefs that have the most profound impact on our lives were not even acquired by us as an act of free will. They were instilled by other people. And it probably won't come as a surprise to anyone that usually the beliefs that cause us the most difficulty are those that were acquired from others without our conscious consent. By that I mean beliefs that we acquired when we were too young and uninformed to realize the negative implications of what we were being taught. Regardless of the source of our beliefs, once they are born into existence they all basically function in the same way.
Beliefs are usually formed in one of 2 ways:
Beliefs are acquired by repetition
If we experience something happening over and over in the same manner, we start to consider it to be normal, we start to consider it to be familiar and we take on these experiences as “this is how it is”. If you watch your mom to cut the edges of the ham every single time, you consider this to be a normal behavior, so you might acquire it for yourself. If you watch Real Housewives every night, you might start to think that throwing glasses of wine in your friends' faces is routine behavior.
Beliefs are acquired by strong emotional experience
If we experience something that has a strong emotional charge to it, whether positive or negative, there is a high chance we will remember this event and form certain beliefs about the nature of things out of that experience. This is called significant emotional event and in this case it's enough if it happens once for us to form new beliefs and understandings about the nature of things.
How our beliefs affect us and what we do with them
Beliefs can be conscious or unconscious. A conscious belief is one that you know and understand, such as "I believe in God." An unconscious belief is one that you may not know about yourself, such as "I am worthless."
For example, someone who grew up constantly being belittled or criticized by his parents knows exactly how that feels. The beliefs he forms about himself and his relationship with the environment, as a result, were formed in a reality of pain. Certainly he wouldn't know, while growing up, that he was forming a belief about his relative unworthiness as a person. Unworthiness is a concept that he may not learn about well into his adult years, and he may never learn how to release himself from the damaging effects. But in the meantime, his fear of being ridiculed and belittled will drastically limit the possibilities he perceives in the environment for self-expression. Many possibilities that seem self-evident to someone without this fear would be totally out of the realm of possibility for him.
The beliefs we hold influence our behavior, relationships, health and moods. They can affect how we feel about ourselves and others; what we expect from life; how confident or anxious we feel; whether we take risks or play it safe; how much time and energy we invest into achieving our goals-the list goes on!
Sometimes these beliefs are helpful but most often they're not because they were formed by people who didn't have all the information available today (like a child growing up in a small town who thinks everyone lives on farms). It's important to identify and change these outdated ideas so they no longer dictate what happens next in your life.
How we can reprogram our limiting beliefs into more positive beliefs
There are many techniques that can be used to change our limiting beliefs into empowering, more positive beliefs. In order to understand how beliefs change, you can imagine your unconscious mind as a computer program with many lines of code. Most pieces of code of the inner programming might work for us, but some might need to be reprogrammed, edited, changed.
There are 2 things that need to be considered before anyone attempts to change their limiting beliefs:
Active beliefs are energetically charged
Beliefs are formed by energetically charged experience, so we can imagine it’s like a memory that is charged by a specific amount of energy. Beliefs can be altered, but not in the way that most people may think. I believe that once a belief has been formed, it cannot be destroyed. In other words, there is nothing we can do that would cause one or more of our beliefs to cease to exist or to evaporate as if they never existed at all. This assertion is founded in a basic law of physics. According to Albert Einstein and others in the scientific community, energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it can only be transformed. The easiest and most effective way to work with our beliefs is to gently render them inactive or nonfunctional by drawing the energy out of them. Let’s call this process de-activation. After de-activation, the original structure of the belief remains intact, so technically it hasn't changed. The difference is that the belief no longer has any energy. Without energy, it doesn't have the potential to act as a force on our perception of information or on our behavior. In other words, you cannot erase your belief. You can, however, remove the energetic charge from the belief, so it doesn’t have the emotional impact on your life anymore.
Here’s a personal illustration:
As a young child, I was taught to believe in Santa Claus. In my mental system, this is perfect example of what is now inactive, nonfunctional belief. However, even though it is inactive, it still exists inside my mental system, only now it exists as belief with no energy. So, as I'm sitting here typing into my computer, if someone came up to me and said that Santa Claus was at the door, how do you think I would define and interpret this information? I would treat it as being irrelevant or a joke, of course. However, if I were five years old and my mother told me that Santa Claus was at the front door, her words would have instantly tapped me into a huge reservoir of positively charged energy that would have compelled me to jump up and run to the front door as fast as I could. Nothing would have been able to stop me. I would have overcome any obstacle in my path. At some point, my parents told me Santa Claus didn't exist. Of course, my first reaction was disbelief. I didn't believe them, nor did I want to believe them. Eventually, they convinced me. However, the process of convincing me did not destroy my belief in Santa Claus or cause it not to exist any longer; it just took all the energy out of the belief. The belief was transformed into a nonfunctional, inactive concept about how the world works. I'm not sure where all that energy went, but I know that some of it was transferred to a belief that Santa Claus doesn't exist.
Now I have two contradictory distinctions about the nature of the world that exist in my mental system: one, Santa exists; two, Santa doesn't exist. The difference between them is in the amount of energy they contain. The first has virtually no energy; the second has energy. So from a functional perspective, there is no contradiction or conflict. I propose that, if it's possible to render one belief inactive, then it's possible to de-activate any belief. The secret to effectively changing our beliefs is in understanding and, consequently, believing that we really aren't changing our beliefs; we are simply transferring energy from one concept to another concept, one that we find more useful in helping us to fulfill our desires or achieve our goals.
Positive, empowering beliefs are like a shortcut
The techniques that can be used to reprogram our unconscious mind are many. Among those that we use with clients on daily basis are Hypnotherapy, TFT, NLP, Belief installation process we developed and others.
When introducing a new belief, a new concept about the world into our unconscious mind, you can think of it like this:
Imagine that you drive to work. You work at the same place for more than a decade now and so every morning you jump into your car and you drive the same path. The path takes you about 30 minutes and so you know this path, it became a second nature for you, it’s a part of your daily routine, it’s a part of how you function, of who you are. Then one day, out of nowhere, you discover a shortcut that enables you to cut your time you spent travelling to about half of it. You take the path and you have also some associated positive feelings about the shortcut. The questions that are important are these:
- How long would it take for you to start using this shortcut instead of the previous path?
- Would you need to use willpower or convince yourself to take the shortcut second time?
- Would it be difficult to change your route to the new shortcut once you experience it at least once?
Our experience with changing beliefs for us and our clients is that changing beliefs is a 3 step process:
- First, you need to become aware of the limiting beliefs you hold about yourself or about the world in general
- Second, you need to de-activate the limiting belief by one of the techniques we use on daily basis
- Third, you need to experience a new positive, empowering belief at least once in your mind, to be able to start using the shortcut.
New, empowering beliefs are easy to implement, they don’t require any convincing or use of willpower and they are usually taken onboard immediately upon discovering, just as it would be with the shortcut.
We've covered a lot of ground in this article, so let's recap what we learned.
- The first thing to remember is that beliefs are not facts--they're just thoughts in your mind. They aren't necessarily true or false; they're just ideas that influence how you think and act.
- The second thing to remember is that beliefs can be changed by becoming aware of them and then introducing new alternatives.
- The third things to remember is that de-activating of limiting beliefs can be a fast process regardless of how long we held these beliefs, regardless of how long they were part of us.
If you are interested in discovering your limiting beliefs and installing new, positive ones, contact us here.