Power of Beliefs
While lying on the couch this a.m, I started musing about beliefs. I’ve heard, and have grown to believe that a. Beliefs are a choice and b. “Beliefs are just thoughts you keep having over and over.”
There is a big difference between beliefs and facts. Of course there is some grey area but something as well documented as the sun rising in the a.m. and the planetary path around the sun we hold as facts. Throw a rock into the air, and it comes down. Our interpretation of why something happens is where our beliefs come in. Opinions on why something does or doesn’t happen, maybe are more of an expression of beliefs than of facts.
A belief is evident when you interpret and may even judge a situation or a person, especially yourself. a belief about your abilities and learning has been thoroughly researched and documented in growth mindset vs a fixed mindset.
Let’s first look at some minor irritations.
Another driver cuts me off .
- What a jerk. He did that just to piss me off. Where’s my gun when I need it.
- Poor guy doesn’t know how to drive. Probably didn’t have the good teachers I had.
- I need to pay more attention to the other driver.
- One belief system asserts blame, and being an innocent victim.
- Another belief assumes legitimate reasons for others seeming ignorance and is tolerant.
An example for my teacher friends:
Kids in my class do not behave, or pay attention, or put forth very little effort, and then complain when I give them a grade.
- They are lazy, stupid and a victim of their own doing. Furthermore, they deserve the grade they get and the miserable life they are going to have. (Punishment and justification.)
- There is a good reason they are struggling. Maybe their home life, maybe genetics and unidentified learning disability, or they have been beaten down by life and others that they no longer have hope that effort will do any good. (Assumes all human beings are naturally happy, loving, and motivated and when not acting that way, there is a good reason for it. More compassionate and problem solving oriented.)
An example in human relations:
A social event is coming up, like a contra dance. I don’t know anyone that goes to those. I’ve asked other friends if they will go with me but they don’t want to go, or they are not available to go tonight. Do I go or stay home? My beliefs about myself, in effect, my sense of self worth will determine my beliefs and my decision.
If I go by myself, people may not like me. I won’t dance well ‘cause I’ve never done it and they will like me even less. I might not look like them (color, size, shape, etc.) I’m going to feel awkward, if not downright terrible. Worse yet, I’ll come home, despondent, and probably sorry I tried. If they don’t like me, either it confirms my worthlessness, OR confirms my suspicion that most people suck. (Low self esteem or feelings of unworthiness.)
I may not know anyone but maybe I will. I won’t know unless I go. I may be different than others and a poor dancer, but only through practice will I get better. People tend to like me in other situations so they will probably (but not guaranteed) to like me there too. I have little to lose and much to gain. I can leave early if it isn’t for me. Generally speaking, most people are pretty cool, no one is perfect, we all have our issues, but hey, I’m a good person and anyone that can’t see that is blind. (beliefs about self and others couched in worthiness)
I could go on and on but here is the point. Our beliefs, and thus our interpretation of an event through the filter of our beliefs, determines our emotions and our behavior and overtime, those beliefs become hardwired. Habitual. Covert. Unconscious. We think we know what we believe but forget that our beliefs are a choice.
NPR used to have a segment called “this I believe.” There might be something in there worth listening too, especially if you don’t know what to believe.
Our beliefs, many of which I believe are unconscious, shape our reactions, emotions, decisions, actions, habits (and reinforcing one’s habits at that) and a life.
Your gut reaction is a clue to your beliefs?
- When you see people shopping with food stamps, what is your reaction.
- Half a dozen Harley’s go by with guys and girls with leather vests.
- An older man or woman, disheveled, sleeping on a park bench.
- People eating alone in a restaurant.
- Teenages hanging out in the Wal-Mart parking lot on a summer night.
- You tell someone you love them, and they are speechless but don’t return the same sentiment.
- Your child/teenager screams at you “I hate you. You are the worst parent ever!”
- You get an assignment back from your teacher or professor with a C-. You were expecting an “A”.
- You “lend” something to a friend and they don’t bring it back. You remind them, and they don’t bring it back.
- Your boyfriend or girlfriend breaks up with and totally caught you off guard.
Those kinds of ups and downs are part of everyone’s life. Here are some things I’ve heard along the way, and seem to make sense to me.
- People are generally doing the best they can with what they’ve got. Walk a mile in their shoes first. Besides, who is so high and mighty that they have a right to judge the value of others?
- We are all born for a reason, and it isn’t self sacrifice. It is to figure out how to find and share love, laughter and fulfill our highest dreams of what we are capable of.
- Everything happens for a reason (and people enter and leave our lives for a reason as well). Physics works, and it helps to look for the lesson or the silver lining of every hardship or challenge.
- No whiners. We are responsible for where we are, and not victims. We can change our thoughts, beliefs, and ultimately sometimes the circumstances. You are driving the bus, unless you relinquish control of the wheel to someone else. If they crash, you gave them/it the power to do so.
- We (the world) have everything we need, and there is enough to go around. No need to be greedy. No hoarding necessary. (Abundance mentality). Sharing is caring.
- If you believe in nothing, you will fall for anything. While no belief system or religion is perfect, neither is human nature. We are limited in our understanding of the non-visible, non-physical world but it helps to have a paradigm to make sense of it all.
- Everything we need to know to make a better life is available to those looking for answers. (It’s called google and youtube)