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The Power of Beliefs - How they can make or break your life

by Karen Charnock(more info)

listed in mind matters, originally published in issue 112 - June 2005

Introduction

What we believe to be true reflects itself back to us in every area of our life. But just how many of us really know what we do actually believe? Yes, we may all have something of an idea about our beliefs with respect to marriage and religion perhaps, but what about success, money, personal relationships… all of the other key drivers in life? Often it is only upon some deep reflection, usually triggered by an inner discontent, that we begin to realize the real reason why we never seem to have any money, to use but one example, is that 'secretly' we have come to see money as the 'root of all evil', and feel 'money corrupts'!

Needless to say, beliefs of this kind, so deeply buried and ingrained, make it extremely difficult for us to move ahead towards the achievement of our goals. We experience that all too familiar 'going around and around in circles' syndrome. It is only by fully understanding our beliefs, and how they impact upon our daily lives, that we are able to challenge them and ultimately move ahead. What is particularly interesting and encouraging is that once we take the time to examine them, we realize we don't actually believe them in the first place. Nevertheless, we may still appear helpless to change and destined to respond automatically as we have done for years.

The Power of Your Beliefs

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The first step then after having successfully identified these troublesome beliefs, is to begin to challenge them. It is only by consistently asking "is that what I do actually believe?" that we are able to leave them behind and move forward. Advertisers do this sort of thing all the time and with remarkable success. What for example would you have equated 'Skoda', 'Made in Japan', and 'Lucozade', with ten or so years ago? (And let's not even begin to discuss designer water at something close to £1 a bottle!) After having been consistently exposed to a series of messages aimed at challenging our original beliefs, we feel nothing particularly humiliating about the idea of having a Skoda parked in the driveway or a number of electrical appliances with the 'Made in Japan' logo on them. And as far as Lucozade being a sports drink…well, it was once the number one choice for those recovering from illness and a familiar sight at many a hospital bedside – just a simple case of re-branding really. (Granted, these products may have improved over the years, but I doubt whether the ingredients in Lucozade have changed).

Revealing Research

In fact, a very interesting experiment was conducted in the 1950s at the time when instant coffee was first being launched. Manufacturers discovered that despite tasting just as good as ground coffee, for some reason sales didn't reflect it. In order to establish why, they devised two identical shopping lists which they presented to a number of housewives and asked them to describe the type of woman who would have compiled such a list. The only difference between the two was that one had instant coffee on the list, and the other had ground coffee. The results were remarkable, and it was discovered that the housewife with the instant coffee on her list was described as being lazy and generally an unfit wife and mother! This was at a time when labour saving devices were only just beginning to enter the market. What researchers uncovered, was that the underlying belief people held at the time, was that life in the home was supposed to be difficult and labour intensive. With this understanding, they were able to challenge these beliefs and successfully change perception.

True or False?

What's clear from this and perhaps a little unnerving, is the vast amount of power these unconscious beliefs wield in our normal everyday lives. Constant vigilance is needed and a daily commitment to root out any self-defeating and disempowering thoughts. We all know for example people who aren't particularly clever, good looking or talented, but who quite remarkably seem able to turn in outstanding performances in life. Reality vs Belief? Belief in most cases wins hands down and as the psychology profession is so fond of saying "what does constitute reality anyway?" In other words, who really knows anything for sure? Most of the time, people believe and accept things at face value, so if the plain Jane, with the average intelligence quota acts as if she is wonderful, we tend to believe her.

We determine our own particular outcome, our own particular reality. Unfortunately, most of us have been conditioned to use others as a looking glass, hoping constantly to see ourselves reflected through other people's reactions towards us. The advice then, is to paint your own portrait. A fabulous book written by Dr Wayne Dyer entitled You'll See It When You Believe It, describes this process beautifully.

Natural Laws

It may be helpful to also bear in mind some of the 'natural laws' of the universe. We all tend to be familiar with the physical laws, particularly the law of gravity – jump 200 ft from an upstairs window and the results are fairly predictable. What we don't tend to be quite so familiar with are the mental laws. One of these, the 'law of belief' states that what we believe with emotion and feeling becomes true for us. Violate any one of these natural laws, regardless of whether you believe them or even know about them, and you will get caught – every time! Examine your own results in life and see.

Needless to say, positive change takes time and discipline. It isn't easy to change the habits that may have dogged you for a lifetime, but that isn't any reason not to try. By setting yourself some inspiring goals, which work to keep the mind focused, and by challenging any unempowering beliefs, we take a significant step forward. And since none of us knows what's truly real anyway, choose beliefs that aim to support your goals. A useful question to ask your self is "what do I need to believe, in order to live the life I want?" And by affirming with emotion these desires as if they already existed – for example, "I am a very confident and capable person", you are far more likely to see yourself acting in a totally different way and one consistent with your own deeply held ambitions. Remember – never underestimate the power of your own self-talk, just be very careful what you say!

Summary

• Establish your goals;
• Examine any disempowering beliefs;
• Consistently challenge the validity of these beliefs;
• Establish new empowering beliefs;
• Affirm the accomplishment of your goals as if already achieved.

References

Dr Wayne W Dyer. You'll See It When You Believe It. Published by Arrow. ISBN 0099474298.

Comments:

  1. R.saravanan said..

    sir we need books for Dr wayne. Plcall we are in tamilnadu. india pl send details how to purchase.


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About Karen Charnock

Karen Charnock BA (Hons) MA Dip CIM Dip RSA HNC works as a qualified Life and Performance Coach within the area of Work Life Transition Coaching, drawing upon her personal experiences of geographical re-location, career change, company re-structure, redundancy, retirement and more. As a marketing specialist, she helps clients assess their current situation, explore opportunities, define goals and formulate strategies for their successful achievement. Her coaching focuses primarily on the changes a client may encounter within the realm of work, drawing mainly upon the Solutions Focused Model of Coaching. Karen attained her Life Coaching Diploma and Performance Coaching Diploma from Newcastle College and had several coaching related articles published by Positive Health magazine PH Online – her author profile.  Karen may be contacted via karencharnock@yahoo.co.uk and LinkedIn

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