In the previous chapter, we touched upon our beliefs from childhood and environmental conditioning. In this 2nd chapter, we still look at how our beliefs make us who we are, and in this instance, those beliefs that we shape from personal experience.
Life is all about experiences and indeed, is full of them. Experience comes in many forms and from many sources. One of the most vital things that our mind does is to try to make sense of what happens to us and to use this ‘sense’ to make categorised conclusions on what will happen next. These “rational” conclusions about our life experience become evidence, which become our own personal beliefs about how we interact with others, what we can and cannot do, be or get in life.
Believing can be done, often unconsciously, within a narrow perspective, disregarding the reality of any merit elsewhere which would contradict the pertinent notion. As we gather our beliefs we also gather evidence that support them (substantiated by messages from our environment), in the form the repetitive events that we happily interpret in term of the belief; and the exception proves the rule. With enough experience and supporting evidence our ideas become solidified beliefs and this leads to patterned thinking, sculpting our brain circuitry. We may not think these thoughts consciously for long periods, but they influence our thinking relatively continuously and particularly if some current event ‘reminds’ us about them. In these situations, our full belief seems to reactivate, as if it is recovered from store and switched on to become an active source of secondary thoughts, opinions, and associations. The domain of personal relationships gets the trophy for best illustration of the formation beliefs through personal experience. It’s our emotionally charged interpretation that gives power to a belief; which in turn gives (and before that gave) power to the emotion. The vicious circle is on.
So, thinking of one particular situation/opinion that you either never challenged, or want to shake, ask yourself:
1) What are my beliefs?
2) Where do they come from?
3) How do I know what I “know”?
4) What did I “learn” from personal experiences?
Next, we will look at the actual impact of our beliefs on our lives…