Beliefs are ridiculously powerful. Really truly.
They can be borderline reckless if you really think about it… but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Don’t get me wrong, beliefs are wonderful too; they create stability and predictability in the world and are completely connected to my faith. Beliefs are the underlying driver of pretty much everything I experience in my life.
This is where it can get reckless.
My mind subconsciously gathers information and evidence to reinforce all of my beliefs, even the ones I haven’t particularly noticed yet and the ones that don’t serve me (no matter how “true” they are). Let me explain.
If I believe (consciously or not), that people in the world are stupid, I will notice all the stupid things people do. If I believe there’s never enough time, I will experience a lack. If I believe I’m fat, my mind will always look for the fat, no matter how much weight I loose. (In fact, loosing weight would be contrary to my belief, so unless that belief actually really truly changes, I’ll always be fat.) If I believe my significant other doesn’t love me, I will likely show up or behave in a way that makes that true too. After all, my beliefs are held dear in my mind, even the bad ones. Whatever I believe about my world, I create.
It doesn’t matter how much evidence I have or how many people agree with me; if a belief isn’t empowering me and serving me and helping me become the person I want to be, that belief has got to change or it will continue to manifest.
This is why I am finding it so important to notice what beliefs I have and ask myself if it’s worth holding on to. My mind holds all beliefs as dear and valuable… even the destructive ones that I have lots of evidence to “prove” they are true.
This past Sunday I went to wake my teenage daughter up for early church. She wasn’t responding much. I took several minutes to massage her and talk to her in effort to coax her awake. She told me she would get up, only to drift back to her cozy place. I reminded her how much time she had and she said “I’ll get up.” I responded, “I don’t believe you are waking up.” (I actually used the word “believe.” Oi.)
I went to her room again minutes later to find her sound asleep and I attempted to wake her again. She told me she’ll wake, so I left to finish getting myself ready.
When it was time to leave, I went to check on her and she was sound asleep.
As we left to church, I had to wonder if this would have played out differently had I said “I believe you will get up” instead of “I don’t believe you are waking up!”
Is it possible that she subconsciously wanted to reinforce my (unhelpful) belief? I might be overthinking it, but it’s interesting to consider. It’s worth experimenting.
Later that day as we drove to family dinner, I decided to let the kids know all the things I believe about them (just in case they also choose to believe these things and then subconsciously find lots of evidence for them). I told them:
I believe you are innately good people who will do lots of good in the world. I believe that you love all people, even the ones you don’t have anything in common with. I believe you have the ability to handle everything you will encounter in life because you are smart and you know how to get support to figure things out. I believe you love God and will choose to be close to Him throughout your life. I believe you are genuine and kind and can reach out to others and make friends easily. I believe you will have a fantastic life!
Here’s some a few beliefs about myself that I’m working to hold dear (and you are welcome to take these as your own beliefs too… I hope you do. Some of them aren’t mine at all.)
I believe I am good.
I believe everything is figure-out-able.
I believe all things work for my good in the end, even terrible things.
I believe I can achieve anything I want to, no matter how long it takes, no matter how many times I fail, and no matter what I need to learn.
I believe I am expanding in love, abundance, creative contribution and success as I help others do the same.