Reinventing Your Life One Belief at a Time
Reinventing Your Life One Belief at a Time
You are What you Believe
You can attribute the life you are currently living to every thought, word, action, belief and decision you have made up until this very moment. How you see yourself and how others see you is directly connected to your core belief system– your beliefs about yourself, about others and your positive or negative reaction to life’s daily ups and downs. These beliefs largely determine your relationships with associates, the personal company you keep, and your opinion of the life events you have experienced so far.
Your belief system plays a pivotal role in how you view and live your life. You even owe your sense of reality to your beliefs because they act as the lens through which you interpret the world. Socrates, the classical Greek philosopher said, “A life unexamined is a life not worth living.” One of the most effective ways to start your personal development journey is through the power of examining your beliefs about yourself.
How Your Beliefs Came to Be
At birth, you came into the world as a pure being without any preconceived notions, beliefs, mental pictures or experiences. You were a clean white canvas.
As Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. poignantly states, “We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe.” As you grew and developed, your parents and role models painted ideas and ideals, beliefs, morals, customs and traditions on your empty canvas. Their intention was to prepare you for surviving and thriving in this world. This process showed you the “ways of the world” as you now see them to be.
The brush strokes on the canvas were not your own doing, but rather your influencers’ doings and your own experiences of the world. All these things shaped your personality, which consists of your character, behavioral, temperamental, emotional and mental traits, as well as your beliefs about yourself.
Other factors that substantially impact your belief system are your ancestry, race, nationality, environment, education, religion and society. Many core beliefs are formed in the early phases of life between your birth and six-years of age. Even as a young child you assigned meanings to events and made choices that helped establish your current belief system.
Examples of early beliefs are:
I’m not good/smart/pretty/handsome enough.
I’m too short/tall/fat/thin/light/dark.
I’m not as clever/funny/loved/ as my sibling.
Truths vs. Beliefs
Do you know a person who is a self-proclaimed klutz? Maybe he is. But maybe that self-proclamation took root when he spilled a glass of milk while reaching for a cookie thirty years ago as a little boy. The spill just happened to be the last straw that broke his mother’s overworked back. She scolded him saying, “You are so clumsy!”
What was shared with the boy was simply his tired mother’s opinion and yet he internalized it as truth. The real truth is that milk was spilt, but the enduring belief that he carried with him into adulthood is “clumsiness.” The origin of a belief can be purely random. Had the milk incident occurred on any other given day, the mother may have wiped it up and kissed the forehead of her son who then grew confident enough in his agility to become a heart surgeon who enjoys rock climbing on the weekends.
Life is a series of arbitrary events. Each event is neutral in so much that it relates the reality, the facts. It is your interpretation of the event that gives it a positive or negative connotation or meaning. In other words, your interpretation is the story of what occurred as perceived through your beliefs and assumptions.
Opinions Become Truths
Your personal belief system about yourself is primarily built on opinions which you then substitute for reality. When you take an opinion and endorse it as the truth, that truth becomes part of your belief system. Regardless whether it is right or wrong, your trust in the belief stops you from seeking and seeing other possibilities. When you defend your beliefs without question, you close your mind to a realm of possibility and essentially defend your personal limitations.
It’s common to assume everyone sees the reality of life the same way you do. And when they don’t, you dismiss it as a character flaw on their part. Instead, point the blame at your ego. Your ego insists others think your way, feel your way, judge your way, understand your way and view the world the same way you do.
Challenging Your Beliefs
You can only understand and experience life through the mental pictures or images of your beliefs. You are, in fact, shackled to those mental pictures. Scrutinizing your opinions to test the validity of your beliefs will not put your entire core system in peril. In fact, there’s danger only when you fail to dissect both the “reality” and your belief (opinion) of an event. By not consciously separating the two, you succumb to the self-deception of a perceived reality. You believe the illusion of the truth (your interpretation or story), instead of the ultimate reality of the truth.
When you shroud reality with your beliefs, others cannot see your true self and you cannot see them for who they truly are. You continue projecting these false beliefs onto others and consequently your life keeps going in the same direction.
Every belief you hold about yourself has the power to enrich or deplete your life. Your beliefs make you feel secure, yet your insecurity is lurking just below.
The key to personal power and freedom lies in your ability and willingness to reexamine, reevaluate and release your beliefs once they have served their purpose.
Every stimulus creates either a twinge or a flood of thoughts, feelings, and emotions. So when you are not fully conscious of your beliefs, the stimulus creates an automatic response and not necessarily a realistic one. Placing your belief system on autopilot restricts your way of thinking, reacting and behaving.
It is only through self-knowledge and awareness that you learn to recognize the difference between what your own beliefs really are and what is borrowed from outside influences – your inherited and acquired beliefs. Beliefs that fail to serve your best interests or disempower you are worth reexamining and replacing with new, conscious beliefs that you create in the present moment.
In order to identify your beliefs, ask yourself:
Am I merely reacting to situations out of my old core beliefs?
How do these beliefs empower or weaken me? Simply observe your beliefs without judging them as positive or negative. Detach yourself from your belief system and allow the process to unfold naturally. This requires learning to be equally cognizant of both sides, which allows you to remain centered and neutral. Therefore, you will neither be for or against the belief.
Freeing yourself from all of your beliefs opens you up to considering all beliefs. Do not pigeonhole yourself by judging beliefs and past experiences as right or wrong. This does not bring you peace or allow you to view life as the gift that it is. Experiencing true change through personal growth means letting go of your ego’s hunger to know and judge. It’s time for the ego to accept that you don’t have to know.
You have had your belief system for so long that it is as comfortable as an old pair of shoes. It is familiar and soothing. Your beliefs are ingrained and are as involuntary as breathing. But they cause you to live in the past instead of the present. They stop you from advancing in your personal development journey.
You have two choices. React to life with programmed beliefs or open yourself up to new possibilities. Only you can give meaning to events and it is your responsibility to choose how you react to them. Fear, worry, guilt, regret, resentment, jealousy, greed and disappointment are powerful blocks capable of preventing you from changing your beliefs. It takes a concerted effort to change and release your beliefs. This work is one reason why it is so difficult for people to let go and welcome change.
When you change how you think, many of your beliefs will become invalid. They are no longer in alignment with your higher level of being. The autopilot belief system is turned off and now you’re in control. Within this framework of higher self-awareness, you can create behavioral patterns and habits consistent with your new true sense of self.
Learn to Master Your Beliefs with help from Mark.