I’m sure there’s a point in all our lives where we realise that our beliefs have been holding us back to varying degrees.
I know I’ve certainly experienced this.
We create these ideas and concepts about the world and life and we just… believe them!
And they stop us from fulfilling our true potential.
In fact, in some cases they don’t just stop us from fulfilling our potential, but completely block our access to experiencing just a basic level of health, happiness and success in life.
A lot of the time, however, we don’t even see our beliefs as beliefs. To us, they’re just ‘how the world works’ or ‘how things happen’ that we just accept and allow to aide us continuing our struggles.
So mastering our beliefs is a huge part of building inner strength and experiencing the life we want to live at our truest potential.
And that’s what I want to focus on in today’s podcast.
How Are Beliefs Formed?
Let’s start this off by getting clearer on what beliefs actually are and how they are born.
And to do this, I find it easiest to divide this whole concept or topic up into three areas.
Truth. Opinion. And beliefs.
Truth is the absolute. The undeniable. The uncontentious fact.
It is seeing the sun rising or sensing the wind blowing against our face or feeling the earth underneath our feet.
Now, of course, I could go into the whole ‘matrix’ thing and ask whether all this I just mentioned actually is true or not.
But that’s being gratuitously philosophically dick headish of me when I think about the real purpose of this post.
For ease’s sake, let’s just say that seemingly simple things like the sun rising every morning and the wind blowing on your face are undeniable truths of this world.
And if you want to start questioning that and debating deep philosophies about ‘unplugging from the matrix’ then you can email Morpheus@iammichaelglover.com.
Something that we, as humans, have been gifted with is the power of consciousness.
And a result of having this conscious mind is that we are able to form opinions about the world around us.
We experience an event, an occurrence or anything and we have the ability to judge that experience and then form opinions about it.
We can say this is good, it’s bad, it’s wrong, it’s right, it’s going to happen, it’s not going to happen or anything!
But at this point, at this level, we are still aware that what we are doing is an opinion and is, therefore, not necessarily and concretely true.
To put it simply, belief comes around when, essentially, we take our opinions too far and see them as truths.
If we believe in something, then we see it as truth.
To us, it is real. It is undeniable. It is our truth.
Yet this can be a huge mistake when it comes to wanting to live out a happy, peaceful, successful life.
Take the medieval ‘dark ages’ in western Europe, for example. This was a time when extreme religious belief created a backwards moving society after the fall of the Roman Empire.
As a result, many people experienced appalling living conditions with executions and killings over such ‘evils’ as witchcraft and all sorts of other things in the name of what was believed to be true.
Somebody (or a large group of people with authority) formed an opinion about life and the world and it became widely believed as the truth.
This is how beliefs are formed.
What’s My Point Here?
A key thing here, as always, is awareness.
If we can become aware of and accepting of the idea that everything we believe is simply an opinion we have formed, and not undeniable truth, then this in itself creates a shift at some level.
It opens up the space for us to begin ridding ourselves of the limiting beliefs that have been holding us back.
Because if you can simply accept that every belief you’ve formed is simply an opinion, then it automatically, by definition, becomes no longer absolute truth in your eyes.
And you become opened to the idea of forming a new opinion and a new belief around that subject. One that serves you and the rest of the world in a better way.
Remember, there are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ opinions or beliefs, just opinions and beliefs that will serve us in different ways.
How Do Beliefs Affect Us?
Many of us, particularly if you’ve delved into any kind of self-help or personal development world, will be aware of limiting beliefs.
Beliefs can create limits in us when it comes to how much money we can earn, what kind of life is possible, etc, etc.
But, as eluded to earlier in this piece, beliefs create the biggest limits when we don’t even recognise them as beliefs and don’t realise that there’s even any other way of thinking.
So we can have limiting beliefs holding us back in all areas of our lives without us even realising.
It can be what you believe around a health issue, how a relationship is supposed to look, what other people think of you or anything.
Beliefs Are Our Life Lenses
A great analogy I like to use for thinking about beliefs is to look at them as the lenses we view the world through.
So when we think about putting on a pair of glasses, these are lenses that alter how we see the world. That is their job.
We can put on one pair of glasses and see perfectly, yet we can put on a different pair and see barely anything but a blur.
The key thing to remember here, though, is that although the lenses change how we see something, they do not change the actual thing we’re looking at.
If we look at a rock on the floor, we can see a blurry rock or crystal clear rock, depending on what lenses we wear.
But regardless of which lenses we use to look at the rock through, the actual rock itself does not change.
And our beliefs work the same way.
They are the lenses we look at the world through.
The difference, however, is that when we go to the opticians and test out a pair of glasses and see a blur, we come to the conclusion that those lenses aren’t for us. We don’t just accept and form a belief that the world actually is blurry.
So it’s vital if we can understand that everything we believe – our whole concept of the world and what’s possible within it – is a lens, or a collection of various different lenses built up through our past experiences, that we view the world through.
Because with this understanding we begin to give ourselves the power to push our self-imposed limits and completely alter our perception of what’s possible for us.
Creating A Mind Shift in Our Beliefs
So maybe what I’ve talked about so far has been really interesting to you and has opened your eyes a little bit.
I know learning this stuff certainly opened mine!
But you may be wondering where the action point comes in here. What are we supposed to do with this information? And how do we apply it to our lives?
Well, as with a lot of things, awareness just by itself is a huge first step. Everything becomes a lot easier and more straightforward when the lights are on.
So the action point here is to simply use that awareness.
In every experience or event or situation we find ourselves in, understand that we are interpreting that through the lenses we’ve built up over the years.
If we can go into every situation aware of the lenses we’re wearing and being willing to see them for what they are and almost ‘edit’ our thoughts and interpretations from said situation, then it stretches what we believe to be our limits and potential.
For example, you go into a situation and begin thinking “I can’t do this, I’m not good enough”. But if you’re willing to see that this is your belief based on the lenses you’re wearing and begin to edit and question that thought then you start to see that it doesn’t need to be true for you.
And it’s a continual practice that helps us here.
We challenge and edit our own interpretations of what’s going on around us, which leads to a shift in our internal state, which leads to a shift in our behaviours and actions, which leads to more positive and ‘better’ results.
Three Steps to Beliefs That Serve Us Better
With all that said, there is a simple three step procedure that we can use to bring a bit more structure to this ‘editing of thoughts and beliefs’.
Step #1 Awareness
The first part to this is the actual awareness itself.
So rather than simply allowing our environment and the thoughts we have to rule us and how we feel, we need to actually pay attention to them.
We need to not suppress, ignore and wish these away, but stand up and look them in the eye.
Something I would invite you to do is to spend some time with your own thoughts. Listen to them and the things going on in your head instead of ignoring them and trying to ‘plough on through’.
So ask yourself…
What do I believe about myself?
What do I believe about my health?
What do I believe about money?
What do I believe about my business or career?
What are all the negative thoughts that I think on a regular basis?
Sit down and spend an hour just doing this with yourself and writing your answers down on paper. I guarantee it’ll be pretty eye opening.
Step #2 Challenge
This is where we get to take off those lenses you’ve been wearing.
Everything that you have down on that piece of paper, go through and ask yourself one simple question…
Is this thought serving me in the way I would ideally like?
And if it isn’t, ask yourself…
Is this thought true?
If you’re struggling with it, then try imagining yourself seeing it through those different lenses.
Take your current lenses off and ask yourself again…
Is this really true?
And, if necessary, go and seek out evidence for yourself to prove that it is not true.
Imagine yourself as a lawyer trying to prove to a jury in your head that this thought is just not true.
Step #3 Exchange
So now we’ve become aware of the lenses we’re wearing and begun to challenge the thoughts we have as a result of them, we can now exchange or replace this old thought with a new one.
We start to put on a pair of lenses that allow us to stretch our limits and potential.
In essence, after challenging our old thoughts and beliefs, we get to ask ourselves…
What would be a thought that would serve me better?
And we can choose this thought as the way we now get to interpret and build meaning around our current environment.
To Finish Off
Again, this is a practice.
Don’t expect to do this once and instantly have all your mindset or any other kind of problems solved like some kind of magic pill.
You can do this three step procedure as an actual activity where you sit down and list everything out as I suggest in step one.
Or you can take it out into the ‘real world’, so to speak, and do it as a negative thought or belief creeps into your daily goings on.
My suggestion is that you mix the two. Maybe every few weeks do a big activity where you write everything down, but still practicing challenging your thoughts and exchanging with better serving ones when you’re ‘out in the field’.
The key is to maintain your understanding of the lens analogy and be willing to remove those lenses and see them for what they are in every situation or environment.
Hopefully this will help you move forward and reach your truest potential.
I know this is something that has really helped me.
And I continue to work at it.
Take a listen to the podcast episode for this blog post via the player at the top.
Love, Laughter & Light,