(First of a series)
How do beliefs affect our lives?
A belief is defined as “something that we hold to be completely true.” A person’s beliefs are the subconscious guideposts that shape how a person thinks, decides and acts in different situations.
Our subconscious mind is responsible for forming and enforcing our beliefs. The conscious mind on the other hand, is the armored sentinel that makes sure that our subconscious beliefs are enforced – until such time that they are discarded or changed at a subconscious level.
How are new beliefs created?
Normally, a belief forms as a result of memorable or emotional experiences.
A new belief can also be formed from any form of mental training, such as attending classes at the university or reading books that we like. We subconsciously create powerful beliefs at each stage of our lives, from childhood to adulthood.
Small children can have powerful beliefs that can even survive to adulthood. As a person matures, he picks up new beliefs from different experiences in life.
We usually discard an old belief if a new belief provides a better benefit or advantage.
Ideally, a person should be able to pick up new beliefs easily, especially if a belief obviously provides a better route to achieving goals. However, our minds are actually built to retain beliefs rather than let them go.
We have a natural tendency to hold on to old beliefs because it is our way of creating equilibrium and permanence in our lives. Unfortunately, this desire to keep old beliefs can sometimes prevent a person from improving or progressing in certain aspects of life.
How are beliefs different from each other?
There are two classes of beliefs, based on how they affect human behavior: empowering beliefs and limiting beliefs.
Empowering beliefs are often used by people to accomplish things. For example, a person can believe that he is born with a natural writing talent. This belief can help the person develop other related beliefs such as “I can write stories that other people want to read.”
This type of positive belief can help a person overcome his present limitations by improving his outlook of life. A person’s empowering beliefs can help him succeed as long as he remains motivated and passionate about his target outcome.
What are limiting beliefs?
Limiting beliefs are just like empowering beliefs: you hold these ideas as true (whether you are consciously aware of them or not) and they guide how you think and take action.
How do you know if a belief is a limiting one?
A limiting belief has the following characteristics:
– Most of the time it is stated in the negative or it has a negative meaning. Limiting beliefs can often be stated using the words “can’t,” “can’t possibly,” “shouldn’t,” “wouldn’t,” etc. Other times it is formulated as a simple observation such as “I’m horrible at basketball” or “I’m a horrible driver.”
– It prevents you from doing something that you’ve never tried before.
– It is hinged on fear, sadness, loss of hope and other negative emotions.
– It can be hard to acknowledge that you have this belief but at the same time, you cannot do anything that contradicts this belief.
– It can make you feel depressed, angry or inadequate when you consciously think about this belief.
Are we naturally pessimistic?
Some experts say that limiting beliefs exist because humans have a naturally pessimistic mindset.
Pessimism, some experts argue, is the reason our ancestors survived predators, natural calamities and food scarcity. Optimists, they say, don’t think of what misfortune could come next so they don’t survive as well as the pessimists.
A pessimistic mindset might make sense if you are using stone tools and there are large predators that might bite you in the dead of the night. However, modern society has changed so much that a pessimistic mindset produces the opposite effect: instead of enhancing your ability to survive and grow it puts you in a small, imaginary box and traps you there.
Having many limiting beliefs are symptomatic of a negative or pessimistic mindset.
Fortunately, you can change a lifetime of pessimism through neuro-linguistic programming.
By applying NLP strategies, you can change your mental design and create a more powerful mind that is focused on creating and implementing the best plans so you can start enjoying the outcomes that you have always dreamed of.
We will be going deeper into the world of beliefs and values in our next blog post.
For now, try to answer the following guide questions:
- What are my most powerful beliefs about myself right now?
- Which of these beliefs empower me and help me grow as a person?
- Which of these beliefs prevent me from venturing out into the world so I can find out what works and what doesn’t?
- What should I do about my limiting beliefs?
- How can I nurture my empowering beliefs?