Beliefs are our interpretation of certainty about what something means. We create beliefs to anchor our understanding of the world around us and so, once we have formed a belief, we will tend to persevere with that belief. The challenge is that most of our beliefs are generalisations about our past, based on our interpretations of painful or pleasurable experiences. When we know something to be true, then it becomes more than a belief.
We mostly do not consciously decide what we’re going to believe. Mostly we simply reference our memories and meanings we have previously applied to specific events and the feelings that play out with these. Often our beliefs are one-sided interpretations of past events—and we can find experiences to back up almost any belief. How do we know that our beliefs are reflecting things that don’t change? Just because in our experience it has always been the same, it doesn’t necessarily follow that it will continue to always be the same.
We usually believe that things will happen as they have previously happened, because it is useful to do so. As such, this means that everything is a belief—which works, from a persuasion standpoint. When we embrace a primary belief in something we usually find we disbelieve in anything that may contradict it. This often results in a narrowing of our primary beliefs and an expansion of our disbeliefs in things. For example, if a person believes in the tenants of one religion, they will have internal resistance to also believe in the tenants of all other religions, often rejecting them outright with little understanding of the meanings that believers in other religious systems hold.
Beliefs can be changed. The key to a meaningful life is to make sure that you’re consciously aware of the beliefs you have and be prepared to change them when you feel disempowered.
All personal breakthroughs begin with changes in personal beliefs. When we begin to question our limiting beliefs openly and honestly around the experiences we had coupled to them, then we will challenge our certainty that those beliefs are appropriate for improving our lives. Questioning our beliefs helps embrace a type of freedom. It opens a door to replacing old, disempowering beliefs with new ones that can support quality, higher purpose lives into the future.
If we develop the absolute sense of certainty and momentum that appropriate beliefs provide, then we can accomplish virtually anything, including those things other people are certain are impossible.
Our beliefs are highly coupled to language—the language of our own inner dialogue as well as the language we use to communicate with others. If a word is created for something, then we form a belief that this something exists, as in the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis. Thus we ‘language reality into existence’. This is one reason why people from different cultures sometimes have difficulty understanding each other, because the beliefs they hold are built into the language of their culture.
Stating a current belief in order to change it may seem obvious, yet many attempted personal breakthroughs fail because the particular belief is either unclear or the individual’s focus is directed to the wrong memories.
The way you state a belief is half the problem and half the solution. Once you have identified the belief, sometimes the solution is so obvious that you need little, if any, further inquiry to change direction toward evolving empowering beliefs. Write down more than one draft of the belief statement. Remember that defining the belief is almost a complete project in itself and you may benefit from going through iterative stages of convergence and divergence.
Changing beliefs often means removing pain, difficulty, discomfort and unhappiness of some sort. So look into yourself and ask why your life is not perfect at the moment? Seek where you are unhappy. Find what you are doing/thinking/saying/planning/comparing that is unnecessary. Root out the pain in your life.
Shifting beliefs may sound to some to be a negative thing, but then many people only focus on pain. You can reverse this by looking for ways to increase your happiness and comfort, for example by believing that you can learn new life-skills to challenges if you change focus, or by believing that you have the freedom to contribute to others without calculating what can be gained from this contribution.
Keep the final belief statement simple and precise. Find a balance between something that is simple and easy to remember and something that is comprehensive and covers all bases.
Also remember to balance being too specific with being too general. If the belief statement is too broad (‘I am a good person’) then it will probably be insufficient focus on finding a practical way forward. If the belief statement is too narrow (‘my happiness depends on taking advice’) it may miss broader opportunities. Only you can tell which is best. It is best you explore.
Some examples of beliefs that help with personal growth and freedom:
• I will always find joy when I focus on… a smile… a flower… a sunset with a ‘beginner’s mind’.
• When my life is challenged, I am in a position to learn something that can help me in the future.
• What occurred in the past does not have to be in the future.
• There are no failures, only outcomes—if I learn something that helps me, I am succeeding.
• If I can’t, I must find a way—If I must, I can always find a way.
• If I look into something deeply enough I will find a meaning and a purpose that can positively serve me.
• I can love myself when I give to myself and others equally.
• If I commit myself, a way through can always be found.
• In life, I have freedom to change my focus within, and meaning of, every situation in which I find myself.
The practical techniques to replace old, disempowering beliefs with new ones that support a quality, higher purpose life are just some of the techniques taught during our 10-week Unleash Your Happiness Program. The course is based on my extensive knowledge of raja yoga combined with human psychobiology. Come along and discover guidelines and practices that will change your life!