Check out our two previous chapters on “Who do you think you are?” on where beliefs come from: 1) from early conditioning and 2) from personal experiences. Now, we’re looking at the impact of our beliefs on our lives.
While knowing something entails believing that it is true, knowing about a belief does not entail endorsement of its truth. Conversely, believing something does not require the knowledge that it is true. For example, one can know about astrology but not believe in it. And it is also possible that someone believes in astrology but knows virtually nothing about it.
Belief is a subjective personal basis for individual behaviour, while truth is an objective state independent of the individual. On occasion, knowledge and belief can conflict producing “cognitive dissonance. This explains why beliefs are often based on emotions rather than facts. We tend to notice the facts that reinforce our beliefs. Now, does it mean all our beliefs are uncorroborated? Certainly not. It means that if we question our beliefs adequately we may find that some are unfounded, outdated and unsupportive of who we really are and want to be. In essence beliefs are thoughts and in relation to our personal growth, they are either positive or negative. Consequently we can distinguish two types of beliefs:
1) empowering beliefs
2) limiting beliefs
In the knowledge that beliefs are not set in stone lays the liberating revelation that limiting beliefs can be modeled to support us or disproved and that empowering beliefs can be reinforced or created. When we are truly encouraged, we can develop beliefs that will enhance our performance. It’s like rewiring the brain, cutting and connecting new circuits.
Limiting beliefs take the form of negative thoughts such as “Life is a struggle”, “I’m not good enough”, “I can’t do anything right”, “I’m not worthy of a loving partner” etc. These thoughts fuel negative emotions such as fear, anger, jealousy, disgust, stress, hostility, low self-esteem or even sadness. A study by researchers at the University of Vermont’s Department of Psychology found that “at their most basic, mindfulness skills are our ability to be in the present moment, avoid harsh judgment of ourselves and others, and act with deliberation. When a person lacks mindfulness skills, it can lead to impulsive unwanted behaviors, avoidance, and a general feeling of dissatisfaction.”  Our limiting beliefs provide a wall, or ring-fence, of behaviour beyond which we will experience insecurity and within which we will not; it’s our comfort zone. They set our boundaries and hold us back whenever we entertain the idea of stepping over. They can destroy our dreams, our goals and deny our potential.
The adverse effects are also true, as empowering beliefs take the form of positive thoughts such as “Life is here to be enjoyed”, “I always get what I want” “Whatever happens I can deal with it” “I live under a lucky star”. These thoughts create positive emotions such as contentment, joy, optimism, hope, confidence and even happiness.
All these triggered emotions are translated in our attitude and body language. “When you believe something is true, you literally go into the state of its being true. Handled effectively, beliefs can be the most powerful forces for creating good in your life. On the other hand, beliefs that limit your actions and thoughts can be as devastating as resourceful beliefs can be empowering.” Our ‘Personal Beliefs’ dictate our ‘Attitude’ and ‘Feelings’.
Now, think about your common attitude and feelings about a subject that may be bothering you and examine:
1) Which beliefs is your common attitude based on?
2) Which beliefs are your feelings based on?
3) Are these beliefs empowering or limiting you?
4) Are these beliefs true? Are they really true? If so, how do you know they’re true? (watch that your answer to this question isn’t a belief itself)
5) What empowering beliefs would serve you best (triggering empowering feelings and attitudes)?
Stay tuned, next time, we look at the final correlation between between our beliefs and our results in life.
To Your GDL Transitions!
 Insight Journal, Study Shows That Being Judgmental May Increase Risk of Anxiety (2007)
 Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence, The Medical Benefits of Positive Feelings, p177, Bloomsbury Publishing, 1996
 Anthony Robbins, Unlimited Power