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“How do you define real? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then real is simply electrical signal interpreted by the brain.” – Morpheus from The Matrix
It’s generally accepted that the sky is blue and the grass is green, and rightly so, we’ve identified that as the “truth”. But not everything we see, hear or touch can be interpreted as truth, right? Sometimes it’s just our belief.
For example, you may be looking at the same facts as another guy, but you’re rooting for either The Donald or Mrs Clinton and he’s rooting for the other. Do you agree?
The sum of a person’s beliefs forms their rulebook and is the basis on which they make decisions and interpret the world around them.
Our rulebooks have been built over the years by lessons learned since childhood, biases we’ve uncovered from our own experiences and the choices we make day-to-day. There are pages of this rulebook that we can gladly get up and speak about, but there are some pages that we’ve never consciously realized are even there…
Therein lies a pesky problem: the beliefs we don’t know we have. Our hidden beliefs – unconsciously to us – pull us towards or away from things that don’t fit.
For example, I realized that I used to believe that in order to be successful, I had to suffer first. I didn’t decide on that rule on a conscious level but it was definitely there. For that reason, I never took an easy win. I stayed away from doing things that I could achieve or that I was good at without pain and hard work.
Add to that the belief that if I take a bigger slice of the pie, I’m taking it away from others and anyone who did that was selfish. Clearly my rulebook meant I was firmly planted on the path to a meagre retirement at 65.
[An important point to note here: our beliefs aren’t good or bad. At some time in our life, they’ve helped us survive and kept us safe. That’s how they got there. The difficulty arises when they no longer benefit us but we are still bound to them.]
“So how do I know what hidden beliefs I have? And how do I change the unhelpful beliefs?”
Well it’s a deep topic and it takes a lot of work, but at the core it involves two things:
Uncovering those beliefs
Meditation is a useful tool to observe your thoughts. As you get into the routine, you’ll begin to observe your patterns of thinking and the filter that you’re processing the world through. Another effective tactic that I use regularly is to question yourself. Question your decisions and question your own reasoning. Simply put, this requires a lot of introspection.
Creating the beliefs you want
If you could create a whole new rulebook of beliefs that are helpful to you, what would they be? What would they say about friends, family, money, work, success, religion, and politics? Write them down and start taking action towards making them true for you.
For example, I wanted to believe that there was no pie. That having more would mean I could help more, not take away from others. So I started taking action toward abundance by giving more to causes I support, and by making sure I wasn’t skipping out on enjoying life.
I also started consuming material that supported and helped reinforce my new beliefs, like the podcasts we spoke about before.
This process of getting to know your rulebook and creating the beliefs that serve you is a complex one that takes time. Simply by being aware that these exist you’ve already taken the first step. Be patient.
What are some beliefs you didn’t know you had?
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