What do you REALLY believe?
More often than not they prove to be self-fulfilling prophecies.
Henry Ford once said, “Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, you’re probably right”.
Some of our beliefs are not our own, but rather blindly taken on from others. Once a belief is formed, we work overtime to prove it right, even if the belief is something negative like “Nobody likes me” or “I’ve never been very good at that”.
Do we have to let our beliefs govern us, even if they are harmful to others and ourselves? Can we consciously make changes to what we believe?
In the first half of the 20th century the world believed that it was impossible to run a mile under four minutes. When, on May 6th 1954, Roger Bannister ran a mile in 3.59 minutes, everyone was in awe.
Yet within a year many other runners ran the mile under four minutes. It was as if a spell had been broken.
Some beliefs can be helpful and empowering. Studies show that people who believe they are healthy live 7 years longer than those who think they are unhealthy, regardless of their actual health condition at the time of the survey.
Some beliefs can be unhelpful and disempowering. It is said that we cannot achieve our goals or that we are not worthy of other people’s acceptance.
Those kinds of beliefs are called ‘Limiting Beliefs’. They typically sound like “I am ugly”, “I will never be successful”, “I can’t work with those kind of people”, etc.
Limiting Beliefs fall into three categories:
Hopelessness: My goal cannot be achieved under any circumstances.
Helplessness: My goal can be achieved, but I lack the ability to achieve it.
Worthlessness: I don’t deserve to achieve this goal, because of something I am/am not or have/have not done.
Limiting beliefs can be a result of significant experiences in our lives, usually when we’re much younger.
Consider the story about the man who, as a nine-year-old, killed his friend’s three-year-old brother, while playing cricket. He was focusing so hard on the ball that he did not notice the young boy running behind him. As a result he formed the belief “If I go after my goal, I end up hurting others.” This belief made it very difficult for him to succeed in his adult life.
When attempting to overcome limiting beliefs the first step is to become aware of them. This can be challenging, since our limiting beliefs are often unconscious. Becoming aware of unconscious limiting beliefs can sometimes be all that is needed. At other times we may need to question our beliefs or act as if something else were true.
So what do you believe about you?