"Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn't have it in the beginning." — Mahatma Gandhi
If your life is less than what you would like it to be, and you wish to address this proactively it is essential that you examine and, if needs be, change your beliefs.
But what exactly are beliefs? Well, quite simply, they are
a) ideas you hold onto as fact
b) thoughts that you've thought many times over
c) the foundation of everything you experience in your life
What are beliefs not?
b) universal truths
Beliefs are thoughts and ideas that you give power to through repetitively thinking that they are "true", that they represent the way things are. But the real truth is your thoughts and ideas are no more true than my thoughts and ideas, even if our thoughts differ greatly.
Your beliefs have a great deal of power over you, because you consistently come across evidence to support them. Your experiences in life will constantly prove your beliefs to be seemingly factually correct. The reason for this is that your conscious mind cannot possibly cope with every piece of information that it is exposed to. So your subconscious sifts all the information it receives and rejects that which contradicts your beliefs and retains that which supports them.
Some of your beliefs may have been taught to you by family, teachers, friends etc, and some are completely of your own thinking. And given that we each have a unique combination of environment, upbringing and life experiences, we each have our own set of beliefs.
Where your beliefs stem from however, is not that important. What is really important is to realize that they are not undeniable truths – if they were, they would be universally shared! But your beliefs do inform your view of the world, how you think things are and how you think they should be.
Generally, beliefs are attached to strong emotions. Your attitude to life is completely influenced by them. Therefore, what you believe is of the utmost importance in how you approach your life, and deal with the issues you face on a day to day basis. In order to change your habits, you may need to change your beliefs.
The main problem with beliefs, is that most of us live with Limiting Beliefs, which hold us back in going for what we want out of life, or interfere with our attempts to think about things in a new way. What do you believe about yourself, your qualities, your abilities, your family, your friends, your financial situation, your ability to control your world?
If your beliefs don't support your intentions to change things for the better, chances are you won't manage to implement those changes. Instead, you will encounter plenty of obstacles to support your belief that this is beyond your capabilities/your family don't love you/your friends don't appreciate you or whatever it is that you're assuming to be the case.
If on the other hand, you believe you are a strong person, capable of acquiring the new skills required you will overcome obstacles, rather than falling at them. If you believe your family and friends will provide you with the support that you need, you will find the courage to go for what you want. The obstacles that may arise along the way won't necessarily vanish because of your positive beliefs, but your ability to deal with them and keep moving forward is absolutely dependant on your belief that it is possible.
Changing your limiting beliefs doesn't just help you to change your life, it helps you to transform it!
Change can be temporary – you can change forwards and back, as often as you like. Transformation is permanent. There's no going back. A butterfly cannot go back to being a caterpillar. That is transformation. You can make temporary changes in your life without delving too deeply into your beliefs. But if you want to make fundamental transformations, you will have to examine them and make sure they support you in going for what you want.
The good news is that this is absolutely do-able. The process is simple, but it also requires dedication and commitment. Yes, that means hard work!
What to do?
1. Identify your beliefs in the area of your life you want to improve. (To do this, simply look at your experiences so far – they will mirror your beliefs)
2. For each limiting belief you uncover, ask yourself what belief would support you better?
3. Write affirmations that simply describe the new beliefs you'd like to adopt
4. Recite these to yourself many times a day for as long as it takes to install the new beliefs (remember, beliefs are merely thoughts you've thought repeatedly). Inject strong positive emotion to this process. It will help if you combine these affirmations with meditation. Every time you catch yourself thinking the old belief, recite your new affirmation.
It does take a lot of practice, but if you open yourself to the possibility you could find evidence to support the new belief emerging very quickly. And the more you reaffirm the new belief to yourself, the more evidence you will notice, and the stronger your new belief will become. No matter how sceptical you may be feeling right now about this process, I'd ask you to be open-minded and give it a shot. What have you got to lose?
You've got a whole new world to gain.