Beliefs are not just about religion: they often refer to oneself. And they are not always faithful to reality, so you have to review them.
The deepest beliefs are acquired during childhood from the experiences and indications of parents, teachers and other relevant people. Thanks to them, the child can adapt his behavior to what the environment expects or allows. The sum of them makes up identity and character, the unique worldview by which each individual governs their existence. Thus, one comes to believe that “nothing is achieved without effort”, “it is very difficult for someone to love you”, and so on.
THE STORY OF THE COW AND THE SIMILE WITH BELIEFS
It is said that once a monk and his disciple came to a village. They were welcomed by a very humble family whose only wealth was a cow from which they drank their milk and with the few leftovers they made cheese that they sold to buy a little more food to survive.
When night came, the monk ordered the disciple: “Throw the cow down the ravine.”
The astonished disciple could not understand why the monk was asking him for such atrocity, but he had promised to always obey his master.
He spent hours awake considering whether it was right to deprive the family of the cow. Without it, the family would plunge even further into famine.
On the other hand, if he disobeyed the monk, he could not continue to instruct himself at his side.
Finally, the disciple threw the cow off the cliff and it died. Such was his feeling of guilt that the disciple fled before the family woke up.
He spent the next year working and saving to bring the money back to the family he had hurt so badly.
A year later he returned to the village to pay his debt. When he arrived, he hardly recognized the house how changed it was.
He knocked on the door and was opened by one of the sons, who was very well dressed. They invited him to dinner and the table was piled high with food.
“A year ago, inexplicably the cow we lived on fell down the slope and died. We thought it was the end, but then we went to the neighboring village and there they immediately gave us all jobs. The death of the cow has allowed us to leave poverty, “the family told the disciple over dinner.
Like the protagonists of this allegorical tale, each human being usually owns a “cow” or several that favor their survival and provide them with security, but which can also diminish their potential.
In this case, the cow would be equivalent to beliefs about what one is and is not, about what others are and are not, and about the functioning of the world and life in general.
These hypotheses, which are generated from experiences lived at a specific time and context and from which a limited conclusion is drawn, can become unquestionable truths.
HOW IS THE MIND SHAPED?
We have all been burned at some time by the flame of a candle. From there we deduce that the flames burn and, without having to check it again, we learn what happens when they are touched with the fingers. Beliefs are established by impact, as in the case of the flame, or by repetition.
If parents repeatedly tell their child that he is clumsy, he assumes that he is. And it is not necessary that this repetition be oral: you can reach the same conclusion depending on the attitude that others have with him.
This interpretation of the world determines thoughts, emotions and behaviors without the person being aware of how much they come to restrict their work and their feelings, nor of the great influence they have on their health and well-being. The world is so vast, complicated and varied that apprehending it requires resorting to schemes that simplify it.
But these truths influence the person in such a way that they are also projected on what happens around him.
Even the very senses through which we perceive and explore the world are often conditioned by our beliefs.
BREAKING A BELIEF IS A MATTER OF TRYING
As Robert Dilts recounts in his book Coaching, Tools for Change, before May 6, 1954 it was taken for granted that no one could run a mile in less than four minutes. Thus, in the years before Roger Bannister broke that barrier, no runner had ever approached that mark.
However, just six weeks after Bannister’s feat, Australian running back John Lundy cut the time by one second. And over the next nine years, nearly two hundred corridors crossed what seemed like an impassable border.
Today we know that believing that something is possible is the first step to achieve it, because then the mind even generates new connections between neurons so that the person is in a position to achieve it.
‘” Beliefs reaffirm themselves and have a self-fulfilling effect. If I believe that I have an incurable disease I build my life around that belief, acting and making decisions unconsciously under its influence. Whereas if I am convinced that I can improve I will do another way, and this is how these expectations affect the deepest neurology and produce surprising psychological effects.
Beliefs tend to become prophecies that are fulfilled because the person stops looking for other options. They shape, affect and determine mental and physical health, creativity, relationships and even the level of happiness and personal success “, says Rosa Creixell, therapist at the Gestalt Institute in Barcelona and coordinator of the workshop” Beyond beliefs “.
HOW TO DETECT LIMITING BELIEFS?
Being aware that a map serves as a guide but is not equivalent to the territory and keeping in mind that this navigation chart must be constantly readjusted throughout life is the first measure that should be taken.
Crises in which doubt prevails are useful precisely because what worked before no longer provides the same satisfactory results.
And after that period of uncertainty, during which the human being questions a series of ingrained beliefs, a new framework is built that probably also has an expiration date.
Of course, these “truths” are beneficial in certain respects and serve a function. But if in certain situations or opportunities a person begins to feel bad or backs down without knowing why, it is easy that behind there is a belief that needs to be examined.
“When looking for the causes of a problem, we usually find a limiting belief, since many problems derive from a way of building or living things. Any psychological pain is related to the personal belief system, ” says Vicens Olivé.
Ask yourself “why is this happening to me?” allows locating the belief that prevents the person from living a situation from another perspective.
Beliefs are detected because they act as a mental virus that interferes with the ability to improve and be happier. We are limited by the beliefs that frame the situation under an omen of failure. There are three types:
- Those that generate hopelessness because the object of desire is considered unattainable.
- Those that produce impotence because the object is achievable but the person does not see himself capable of achieving it.
- Those that respond to low self-esteem because the person does not believe they deserve what they want.
Fortunately, life itself is constantly creating new modes of thought and offers us many opportunities to broaden our vision.
“Identifying with some beliefs to the detriment of other opposing ones means dividing and narrowing our identity. Growing is integrating beliefs because that allows us to gain flexibility, creativity and capacity. Psychological therapy tries to go from a limiting belief to an open belief, assuming the responsibility of choosing new options according to the most genuine wishes “, says Rosa Creixell.
It is helpful to let doubts arise about the person’s interpretation of the problem situation and to consider other options.
Often, when faced with a problem, it is taken for granted that the difficulty comes from outside and not from a belief that conditions us internally.
It will help to investigate if there is someone who can live the same situation in a different way, look for an example opposite to what is believed and then observe what attitude this person would take, and what characteristics and resources should be developed to imitate it.
ACCEPT INSTEAD OF INVALIDATE
Beliefs mark the way day by day, they determine to a large extent how our today is and how our tomorrow can become, the type of people who will accompany us, the places where we will be and almost everything that surrounds our life.
Updating them and stopping boycotting oneself can represent the difference between discomfort and happiness, between putting the means to achieve what you want or not even going to look for it.
In the movie In Pursuit of Happiness, a businessman who overcame a huge bankruptcy in the 1980s tells his little boy: ” Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, not even me, and if you have a dream, protect it. ”
HOW TO TEST BELIEFS?
When beliefs constrain the possibilities of life, it can be useful to test them openly.
- A personal museum. Through the imagination, the person collects all the ancient and limiting beliefs of which he has become aware that are a burden in his current life and deposits them in a personal “museum”. They are stored in it until required.
- The timeline. The person travels back in time to locate the moment in which the imprint that could establish the belief was produced. She analyzes it with the maximum objectivity and tries to implant in its place another one that is less limiting for her.
- The game of the senses. Each experience linked to a belief is lived with the five senses and from there it is fixed in the mind. Playing with the images, changing some detail of the experience will contribute to vary the belief associated with that experience. You can look for a memory that has given rise to an important belief and alter the voice of the protagonists, their appearance (give them a clown nose, for example), move the scene in slow motion.
- Linguistic prestidigitation. This technique, developed by NLP expert Robert Dilts, brings together techniques that linguistically challenge beliefs in order to challenge them. Among them, the use of metaphors and stories stands out. They are also used exercises type “act as if”. To do this, one thinks of some objective or some situation that discourages the person, who asks himself: “What would happen if it were possible, if he deserved it, if he could?”. Then you think and act as if that had already happened. How would it be? What would we feel?