By Marilou Seavey
If you are reading this article, you are most likely someone who is interested in understanding the effects that beliefs have in your life and for changing any limiting beliefs.
Beliefs are like the central information highway that the quality and meaning of your experience flows through. Beliefs are the result of judgment and meaning that are consciously and unconsciously assigned to experiences. It has been claimed that deeply held beliefs, the important ones about who we are and what’s possible for us in life, were mostly formed by age 5, an age too young to make accurate conclusions.
Robert Dilts, leading NLP researcher and author, has divided the core limiting beliefs into three categories, helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness. While they are very broad categories you will find that they are very useful in bringing insight to unwanted patterns and to gain the awareness necessary to remove the strictures that seem to be holding you back in your life. So it is useful to ask “What have I learned to believe… about myself and about the power within me to create the life that is fulfilling?”
It’s easy to take beliefs for granted and simply assume that, “It’s just the way I am” or “That’s just the way life is.” People act as if beliefs are facts. Someone who is struggling to find employment may think, “I’m overqualified or too old to be hired in today’s job market. Companies are only hiring inexperienced people because they can get away with paying them less”. While that person may be older and have more experience than what some companies are looking for, and those are facts, it is also a fact that many people are hired in spite of their age and experience. Beliefs play a deeper role than most people realize.
This is an era when personal accountability goes beyond behaviors and attitudes. You are exposed to both esoteric as well as modern, cognitive technology that instructs you in changing the very nature of your reality structure…your beliefs. Beliefs operate as thoughts, since you have to accept a thought for it to become a belief. Beliefs impact perception and influence feelings and feelings motivate actions or lack of actions and actions produce the results and consequences that follow. Self-limiting beliefs keep you in repetitive learning cycles, until you change the meaning of experience at the belief level.
The Test of Your Beliefs
The true testing of your beliefs is found in the challenges you face in life. How resourceful are you when what you want to happen and what is happening are in conflict? Do you respond with strength and conviction and resourcefully adjust your thoughts, attitudes and behaviors? How quickly do you learn from the feedback life so generously gives you? How do you use the messages from your emotional experience to guide you to greater and deeper insights and choice?
It is extremely beneficial to think of your problems as quality control tests of your beliefs… a necessary security check for strength and durability. That is in fact just what a challenge is. So, just how are you rising to the occasion and passing through the tests of your life? The quality of your life depends upon how deep and appropriate your beliefs in yourself and in the possibilities of life are. And we all can do with an upgrade now and then.
This “world classroom” of reality is full of instruction. Lesson plans come in all shapes and sizes. Tests come at the best of times and in the worst of times. Be glad you are being tested. It means you are alive and enrolled in the “Course of Life”. How you handle your lessons, and what you do with your learning, is a measure of your psychological and spiritual growth.
What’s Your Truth?
Remember also, that your beliefs are a reflection of what you perceive to be your mental and spiritual truths. When you take the time to examine your inner life you’ll discover your beliefs. As you create new truths about yourself and your life, new, empowering beliefs await you. Think about people you know who buy every diet book that comes out, sign up for every new ‘lifestyle’ eating program, but talk constantly about how hard it is to loose weight and you will have an example of how self-limiting beliefs override information. When life is challenging old habits re-emerge because of unconscious self-limiting beliefs. People who sustain a significant life change have changed at the deeper level of beliefs about their power, the possibilities that exist for them and their self worth or value. You may have heard it said that whatever you believe becomes your reality. Which translates to mean that, you don’t believe what you see — you see what you believe. Or as Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can or if you think you can’t, you’re right!”
Beliefs are reinforced by the repetition of experiences you attract, let happen, set up, or blindly walk into. A set of conditions that are similar to previous experience and voila—“There it is again.” “I told you so.” “I should have known better.” “When am I going to learn?”—these thoughts come rushing from the background of your consciousness. Consider also that the same patterns are in play whenever you succeed at something and life is flowing. Reinforcing your beliefs at these times can strengthen the neural belief pathway of possibilities. This is what is behind the age old proverb “What you think about you bring about.” Mastering the habit of ‘thinking in the positive by knowing that your words have power’ is meant to be a learning tool to gently increase your awareness. A friend of mine says, “You don’t know what you don’t know, and that is both a blessing and a curse, so life is simpler when you are aware”.
As a first step, you can bring more awareness into play in your life. You can begin to reinforce the possibilities that you have the power within you to create a life that is an evolving and of life’s greatness expressing through you. You can surround yourself with people you believe in and who believe in themselves. You can support others and even try out their beliefs, the ones that will help you to be a healthier, happier person. You can find a friend who shares your desire for personal growth, or better yet, introduce someone you know to some of the wonderful trainings that have empowered you and share the tools for deeper support. You can find a guide or coach to help in changing any deeply entrenched limiting belief. And while changing your beliefs is not always smooth and easy, it is worth the energy and effort involved. You can begin right now to choose awareness and train your mind… your inner life is ultimately your own design.