Since the website for which I joyfully write is called Beliefnet, it occurred to me wto write about the idea of beliefs shaping our reality. According to the Free Dictionary by Farlex, a belief is :
1. The mental act, condition, or habit of placing trust or confidence in another: My belief in you is as
strong as ever.
2. Mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something: His explanation of
what happened defies belief.
3. Something believed or accepted as true, especially a particular tenet or a body of tenets accepted by a group of persons.
Where do our beliefs originate? Some might say: our environment, which would include our family, society/culture, the media, friends, our faith community. When we are children, we seem like tiny sponges, soaking up the messages in which we are immersed.
How do beliefs impact on our lives? I can say with all clarity, that there are some beliefs that nurture and support our wellbeing and others that tear it apart. In my work as a therapist and facilitator, I have heard stories that celebrate the resilience of the human spirit and and some that are are a testament to the poisonous thoughts that are perpetuated when people persist in believing things that don’t serve them. What if your life experience had you believing that you were worthless, a failure, damaged goods, beyond help? What might your day to day activities and interactions with the world around you look like? Most likely dark and dismal. Conversely, what if you (like I was, blessedly) were showered with love and nurturing, support for your dreams and passions? What if you were told every day how much you were loved? Although there are no absolutes in raising children, I would venture a guess that you would feel safe enough to venture out into the world with courage and purpose.
How can we change our beliefs? The first step is to do an inventory. Where am I in my life? I ask myself what someone would need to believe in order to have the consistent life experiences they are having. If a person over and over felt rejected, less than, put down and walked over…what might their prevailing thought be about themselves? On the flip side, if someone felt successful in relationships, welcome wherever they went, comfortable in their own skin, what might they ’see’ when they consider the man or woman in the mirror? The next step is to ask if that particular belief serves them. Is there some benefit, no matter how slight to holding on to that belief or letting it hold on to them? Secondary gain can feel like a reward when it is really the booby prize. Would it be better to have the whole pie available to nibble on, rather than the crumbs? It is also important to know that change is possible. Remind yourself that you change every single day. Consider the beliefs you had in childhood that you laugh to consider now. As a child, I believed (not sure where this one came from) that dogs were male and cats were female. Just so you know, I don’t hold that belief now(: Now, here comes the part where many people cringe….are you willing to for one moment longer, hold onto a belief that no longer serves you and upgrade to something that could make your life a living heaven rather than a living hell? If your answer is no, ask yourself what you would like to trade up to.
I used to believe that in order to be loved, I needed to don my Wonder Woman cape and take care of everyone. After all, who wouldn’t love someone self sacrificing, the go-to person who could be counted on 24/7 to be ‘a rock’? These days, through the support of loving friends and family, I have shed the cape and wrist bands and while I am still available for support, I have greater discernment about how much I help. I have changed my beliefs throughout the process. but still needed to tape the leap into my new paradigm.
I set intention every day based on a belief system that tells me I can achieve amazing things with sufficient desire, a willingness to ask for what I am willing to receive, knowing that it is manna-festing, the leg work necessary to cultivate the seeds that I have planted and the willingness to surrender to Divine design to witness its audacious and outrageous growth.
I also consider leaps of faith when I do this work. What comes to mind is the trapeze artist who is holding on to one swing while anticipating another heading in her direction. In order to grab the second, she needs to let go of the first. Each time, she’s gotta KNOW that she will latch on to the next one, or she couldn’t do it. So too is with my own free flight into creating the outcomes I desire. I see myself doing it, feel myself experiencing it, with a rush of exhiliration.
Through that process, I have brought into my life; relationships, opportunities, jobs, homes, money, vibrant good health, insights, trips, classes, my book, interviews with transformational movers and shakers, this column and many other creative endeavors.
I invite you to dance into the life you desire. My friend Jim Donovan offers his take on the power of beliefs.