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There’s a line in the movie Dragonfly: Belief gets you there.

Here’s another popular quote along the same line: Ability is what gives you the opportunity; belief is what gets you there.

Ability refers to your skills, things you’ve learned from school, college, your parents, your job, etc..

The sources for beliefs are a little more difficult to nail down.

Basically, beliefs are formed and developed from everything you’ve experienced and that has influenced you your entire life leading up to the point where you are right now.

Let me repeat and emphasize a couple things: everything and entire life.

Everything refers to all things you either consciously or subconsciously take in.

And it’s cumulative.

There’s no on and off switch. While you are alive, you are absorbing things from your world. You mind, though it’s not external of course, is part of your world, so that counts as a source as well.

Without making a conscious effort to filter what comes to you from the external world, or from originating thoughts within you, everything you’ve taken in either creates a new belief or shores up an existing one.

Do you believe, truly believe, that all people are good? Or do you believe most people are good, while others are to be {fill in the blank} – avoided, disliked, feared, hated, etc.?

How you answer this depends on a belief you hold about people. And that belief was probably–and most likely–formed when you were a child. If you haven’t purposely, consciously changed it, you may not even be aware that’s what it is: a belief that’s truly a part of you that shapes your perception and interaction with the world around you.

This type of belief is also referred to as a “limiting belief.”

Why?

Quite simply, while you hold that belief to be true (and to have a belief is to believe it to be true…to you), you are limiting your life in some shape, form and capacity.

So, why am I talking about beliefs when this post is entitled Affirmations?

Because when we wish to change something about ourselves, what we really want to change—what we really need to change—is a belief that we hold.

Sure, you can jump right into your affirmations, but without addressing beliefs, they become superficial in their purpose.

Think of our beliefs as the foundations to our being. Everything we are, do, think—everything, is based on our belief system. They form our habits, whether physical or mental.

When we want to change a belief, we have to demolish its foundation and reconstruct a new one. And using affirmations is probably the most effective (and easy!) way to get rid of a limiting belief.

Let’s use a fictitious example of Bernard. Though he’s generally a kind and personable guy, if you come to know him you will realize he has a problem with immigrants.

He’ll tell you he loves the world, loves all people—and his actions prove this, on the whole, but when it comes to immigrants he looks upon them with great disdain.

He holds a belief within himself about a subset of all people, and that belief is a negative one. It’s holding him back.

A person can’t love all people while he hates a select few of them. All people is 100%, not 98.437%.

It creates a contradiction within him. A duality. It creates a conflict in the subconscious mind that doesn’t quite know how to interpret that belief of “love all, but hate some.”

And that duality will bleed over into other aspects of his life, his thinking and his actions. It will, left untouched, eat away at him over time. And, in short, what he believes, he will become. His hatred of a select few will come to dominate many aspects of his personality.

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”

– Bible, Proverbs, 23:7

“Mind is the Master power that molds and makes,
And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills: —
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Environment is but his looking-glass.”

– James Allen, As a Man Thinketh

You’re reading this post, so there may be things within you that you wish to change. And you can change them using affirmations, but the first step, the vital step, is to take stock of your beliefs. Identify them first, then choose the ones you want to change or make stronger.

So, the first step is to create a list. Grab some paper or fire up your word processor on your computer. Start making a list of all your beliefs.

You have to be honest, brutally honest, with yourself. Don’t lie to yourself about a belief you have. If you’re like Bernard, don’t put down you love all people if there are some you dislike to any degree. They don’t have to be immigrants; they could be of a certain race, sexual orientation, have different cultural customs, be bad drivers, your loud or messy neighbors, and on and on.

Not sure how to get started with your list? Start by making two columns. One will be marked “likes” and the other “dislikes.” These could be interpreted as “love” and “hate” as well. In other words, the likes column are things (or thoughts) that are positive in your life. The dislikes are the negative things/thoughts.

Then, under each column, start listing what you like.

For example, under the likes column, you might have:

  • I love working in my garden.
  • I like driving alone in the country.
  • I love being single (or married).
  • I love having children.
  • I like going into work each morning.
  • And so on…

Under the dislike column, you might have:

  • I don’t like my boss: he’s a _______.
  • I hate driving through downtown.
  • I hate going to the mall; I don’t like the crowds.
  • I don’t trust my spouse (partner); I think he’s/she’s cheating on me.
  • I can’t seem to ever get ahead financially.
  • And so on…

Once you have your likes and dislikes—and completing your list may take more than one sitting to come up with them all—look for the commonalities in them. Which ones are similar or of a similar theme? Group them together (this is easier to do if you’ve created your list on your computer).

Once you have them all grouped together, now look at them to see from what belief they exist. Write down what the belief is that sparks that like or dislike in you.

Take the mall example. What is it that you don’t like about crowds? Do people make you feel rushed? Are people’s rudeness the issue (you know, that shopping-frenzy attitude)?

Perhaps your belief is that people are rude. Or people are mean. Or people are ____ {fill in the blank}.

Or take the financial example.

I know a lot of people who “wish” for more money. Actually, almost everyone does (yes, even Rupert Murdoch does).

You probably, to some extent, hold the limited belief that you don’t deserve money or that it will always be beyond your reach. Perhaps you were raised in less than ideal financial conditions. Over time, this has formed a belief in you about money, or the lack of it.

Yes, even this belief can be shattered and a new one can be put in its place.

Keep working on your list until you have a bunch of likes and dislikes and that you have some beliefs that support them. You’ll end up with a lot of beliefs; divide your beliefs into two groups: positive ones (those you want to keep or strengthen), and negative ones.

Don’t get yourself bogged down on why or from where your belief came. Who cares? You have it, list it, and move on.

If you do get bogged down, you’ll find making your list is pure torture and you’ll never finish it. The object is to get through your list so you can ask yourself which ones you want to get rid of and which ones, if any, you want to make stronger.

So, your “to-do” is to create a list. Start with your likes and dislikes. From there, write out all your beliefs. Then identify the ones you want to work on.

In the next installment, we’ll discuss the format of some affirmations and the power behind them.

Know this, though, that anything you want to change about yourself you can. And that in itself is a belief. That’s a belief that, if you don’t have it already, you need to develop and cultivate it because you will see almost immediate and incredible results from your work.

As I said at the beginning of this post: belief gets you there.

Or in the words of Napoleon Hill, “what the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

Until next time, much peacefulness to you.

More Resources:

Napoleon Hill Foundation
Among other things, the site has a listing of all Napoleon’s books.

– The Philosophy of Jesus, by Ernest Holmes
A great book discussing belief and the power of the human spirit.

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