Rebuilding Your Beliefs

Hand-Me-Down Ideas

Most of our beliefs are second-hand goods. We acquire the bulk of them, beginning at a very early age, from those around us, and then we spend much of the rest of our lives trying both to cling to them and shake ourselves loose from them.

We take our beliefs on so lightly, so full of trust, thinking they are fundamental truths, but eventually we begin suspecting that many of them are a bad fit. That’s when we find that bringing a belief in is a lot easier than inviting it out. What a strange comedy.

Beliefs often disguise themselves as truths. As long as a belief remains a “truth” to us, it cannot be uninstalled from our minds.

A belief is something debatable, negotiable, subject to alteration if new facts come in. Let’s say I believe that the earth is a great, flat stationary plain over which the sky is a bowl that revolves like a monstrous mill wheel. If I only believe it, then I’ll listen to other ideas, new evidence, alternate theories – provided I only believe it.

But if it’s a FACT in my mind, a “truth,” then no amount of competing evidence will budge me. Anything you say that contradicts my “truth” will be ignored. I’ll rationalize it away, or simply dismiss it as the mad ravings of a poor, misguided fool. And I’ll miss the opportunity to learn and grow.

Fortunately, it is possible to change our mental furniture. We can learn to examine ALL beliefs, identify those that serve us poorly and find others that are better suited to us. But it requires a willingness to double check everything, even the so-called “truths,” which we consider rock solid.

It Takes Courage to Release a Truth

Very few of us enjoy stepping blithely into unknown territory.

Someone once said, “Adventure is inconvenient. It can make one late for dinner.” The unknown will definitely mess up your nice, safe routine. But when you turn loose of what you already know, that’s what you’re doing – launching out into things you don’t know. No predictability; no guarantees. You don’t know where you’re going to land, nor what might happen when you get there. And some of us hate that more than others do.

If you’re responsible for family members, you’re gambling with their future as well as your own. And said family members can get into some world-class snits anytime you suggest stepping outside your (and their) Known Zone. It’s their security you’re treating so cavalierly.

I once read a British study of successful entrepreneurs. A remarkable finding from that study was the low “sense of responsibility” among the group they studied.

These entrepreneurial people valued others’ opinions and approval much less than the average, and their own satisfaction rated considerably more important than the norm. They frequently faced disapproval from family and friends early in their careers, but it didn’t deter them. Often these people appear selfish and self-centered.

Later, however, after their successes, it’s forgotten how much courage they needed to battle through the serious emotional roadblocks erected by friends and family … after they’ve ended up where they were going.

In general, we call that mental quality “confidence.” It’s the ability to set a course based upon your own inner compass and to stay with that plan no matter who tries to divert you.

Do This:

Make a list of 5 of your most important “truths,” and for each item, ask yourself, “What if this were not really true?” Then dig and prod and probe that “truth” deeply enough to get a closeup look at the other side of it.

If you’re typical, you won’t even do this, mostly because you probably don’t even know how to find and question a truth. Most of us don’t.

A belief masquerading as a truth is anything that makes us squirm or feel upset or get depressed, even fearful when we question it. Look for emotional tender points.

Example 1: “My religion is a cruel hoax and a waste of time; nothing about it is true.”

There are people who would feel in danger of hell fire if they even thought such a thing. If your religion causes fear, you’re probably in an unhealthy relationship with your Maker.

Example 2: “My spouse is getting the short end of this marriage – I’m one of the worst things that ever happened to him/her.”

If this thought causes you to spring to the defensive, and you get a strong emotional response, you probably need to investigate the idea.

Example 3: “I thought my employer was being unfair to me, but the truth is, they’re only responding to my own selfishness and unfairness.”

How many people spend their days belly-aching about their boss, their job and their co-workers, and are bewildered why their influence within the company is not appreciated.

Energetically question every one of your so-called “truths.”

And please remember, this exercise is not for proving or disproving anything. The real point is to get you to dig down and uncover your emotional relationship to each belief. These relationships are much more important than the beliefs themselves.

Do try this, and do your best to shake some things loose. You will learn a lot about yourself very quickly.

Cheers from sunny Japan,

Charles


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