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Do You Determine your Beliefs, or do Your Beliefs Determine You? (part three)

Do You Determine your Beliefs, or do Your Beliefs Determine You? (part three)

Do You Determine Your Beliefs or Do Your Beliefs Determine You?

    G’day Kids. So this study on beliefs has turned into something of an epic. Let’s look at a snapshot of what we’ve covered so far in parts one and two

    1. We’re all largely driven, motivated, limited, empowered and controlled by our beliefs; this can be both good and bad.

    2. We have positive, negative and incidental beliefs.

    3. Beliefs typically form over a long period of time. From the day we are born that computer on top of our shoulders is being programmed.

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    4. They often develop with no real effort, input or awareness on our part. We rarely make conscious decisions about them; they take root in spite of us.

    5. They are the result of our influences and our experiences.

    6. We know that in certain situations and circumstances (home, work, clubs, church, politics), there exists a level of pressure to align our beliefs and thinking with the majority in order to be accepted, valued and respected as part of that group.

    7. Having different beliefs to the majority (in your immediate world), or changing your beliefs won’t always be well received. In fact, it will often be resisted and strongly discouraged.

    8. Quite often we adopt the beliefs of others. We grow into the thinking of our parents, teachers, preachers, bosses. We don’t explore or discover our own truth, we simply make theirs.. ours.

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    9. I like the idea of being part of a group where identical beliefs and consensual thinking is not a pre-requisite for membership. Or acceptance. Or respect. That kind of group appeals to me.

    10. We should re-examine, question and test our beliefs to determine whether they empower us or limit us.

    11. Just because you’ve believed something for a long time doesn’t mean it’s right; it just means you’ve believed it for a long time!

    12. We have an emotional attachment to some beliefs and the thought of letting go of them scares the crap out of us. But sometimes it’s in the letting go that we have our eyes opened.

    13. In an effort to align our beliefs, thinking and behaviour with the group, we often lose US. We lose our own identity and individuality, waste our potential and live a life of frustration, compromise and under-achievement. We don’t become the best US we can, we become what is expected of us; we succumb to the enormity of conformity.

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    So the smart plan would be to keep the positive beliefs and lose the bad ones.

    The time to consider change is when we realise that a particular belief is having some kind of negative impact on our life; our potential, our productivity, our relationships, our possibilities, our career, our family, our physical, mental and emotional health. Changing beliefs is easier said that done, keeping in mind that we are emotional beings who have been thinking, doing and believing a certain way for a very long time. The good news is that change is very possible if we’re serious about the process and we’re prepared to do the work.

    So how do we change our beliefs?

    1. De-emotionalise the process. The greater the level of emotional investment we have in a certain belief, the more likely we are to be irrational, defensive and even protective of that belief, no matter how much of a negative it has been in our life. The challenge comes in being brave enough to open our mind and expand our thinking to the possibility that some of our long-held beliefs may be wr..wr…wr…ong! Scary I know. Deep breaths, you’ll be okay. A good question to ask ourselves is “what do I believe?”, but the better question is “why do I believe that?” When we discover the ‘why’ then we will find it easier to change the ‘what’.

    2. Do what scares you. Of course we need to wrap some logic and common sense around this piece of advice; I’m not suggesting we throw ourselves of a cliff because we’re scared of heights! But working through challenges that force us to confront and deal with our fears is one of the most effective ways to change the way we think, believe, behave and produce in our world.

    Most of our limiting beliefs are about US (what we can, can’t, should, shouldn’t do, be, create, achieve), so when we confront, rather than avoid the things that scare us, we typically experience an instant shift in our thinking. When you do something that you believed wasn’t possible for you (running a marathon, holding a snake, completing some study, standing up for yourself, speaking in public), not only do you experience a shift in your thinking about that particular achievement, but you also start to question other self-imposed limitations. “Wow, if I can do that, what else can I do?” When people run their first marathon, the biggest shift is usually in their psychology not their physiology. It’s like they open a door to a world of possibilities. That potential (to do amazing) was always there but it took an experience (facing and overcoming a fear) to open that mental and emotional door which had been locked shut for far too long.

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    3. Hang out with different people. Hang out with negative, paranoid, miserable, fearful, excuse-making, under-achievers… and pretty soon you’ll be just like them! Who we hang out with doesn’t determine who we become but it sure does influence us. As much as possible, spend time with people who you admire, respect and trust; people who will empower you, not handicap you.

    4. Expose yourself to different environments, cultures, ideas, thinking. Some of us have lived in our little boxes for so long that we think the world starts and finishes at our doorstep. Spend time talking to people you would normally avoid or people you might consider yourself to have nothing in common with. They will teach you something. Travel, explore, see different things, do different things. Occasionally expose yourself to things that are ‘not you’. Consciously and proactively set yourself to learn new things.

    I recently had a conversation with someone who was being very critical of a particular religious group that exists here in Australia (and many other countries). When I asked him which parts of their theology, philosophy and doctrine he disagreed with, he looked at me blankly. The truth was he that he was criticising something that he knew nothing about. He’d never read any of their religious texts, never had a (meaningful) conversation with anyone of that faith, never been to a service and never even considered that the group he was criticising could possibly teach him anything or be a ‘viable’ (for want of a better term) religious option. After a little probing, I learned that he had simply adopted his ignorant, arrogant beliefs from his equally uneducated, opinionated and intolerant father.

    5. Think for yourself. Stop trying to fit in, and start being you. Don’t be a sheep. Question the way you think, behave and believe right now. Explore where those beliefs came from and identify them as a positive or negative in your life. Don’t adopt someone else’s beliefs because you like that person, make those beliefs your own when you’ve questioned them, explored them, tested them and discovered them to be true.

    6. Work hard to over-ride your default setting. Sometimes there’s a tendency for us to feel (yep, it’s an emotional thing) that our old, destructive beliefs are somehow more real than the new ones we’re trying to install into our hard-drive. Yes, it’s only a feeling but it can become a reality when we let it happen. If you’re like most people then you will have regular battles between emotional you – the one with the unhealthy emotional attachment to those old beliefs, behaviours and habits – and logical you – the one who understands what you can do and become and is prepared to do what’s necessary.

    Replacing your old destructive beliefs with new empowering ones will be an on-going (life-long) process. This means being more aware and conscious of your beliefs and how they impact on you in the moment. Right now. Not in theory but in practice. Sometimes that will mean consciously over-riding an urge to conform to a pre-existing belief (way of thinking, doing, being, reacting, communicating), in order to create better results in your world. And as always, in order to create different, you need to do different.

    Ciao x

    More by this author

    Craig Harper

    Leading presenter, writer and educator in the areas of high-performance, self-management, personal transformation and more

    Why Is Goal Setting Important to a Truly Fulfilling Life? Do You Make These 10 Common Mistakes Before Weighing Yourself? If your Childhood Sucked – It’s Time to Stop Blaming Your Parents! Exploring Relationships with the Single Weirdo Education Should be More than Academic Basics

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    Last Updated on August 20, 2019

    How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

    How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

    Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

    Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

    I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

    You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

    Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

    When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

    I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

    Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

    Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

    Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

    1. The Inner Critic

    This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

    • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
    • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
    • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
    • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

    The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

    Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

    2. The Worrier

    This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

    The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

    3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

    This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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    This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

    The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

    4. The Sleep Depriver

    This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

    The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

    • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
    • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
    • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
    • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

    How can you control these squatters?

    How to Master Your Mind

    You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

    Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

    There are two ways to control your thoughts:

    • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
    • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

    This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

    The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

    Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

    For the Inner Critic

    When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

    You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

    For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

    You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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    “Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

    If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

    • They rile up the Worrier.
    • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
    • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
    • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
    • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

    Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

    Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

    For the Worrier

    Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

    Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

    You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

    • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
    • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
    • Muscles tense

    Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

    If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

    Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

    “Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

    Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

    If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

    Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

    Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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    For example:

    If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

    “I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

    Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

    “Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

    Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

    For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

    Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

    The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

    • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
    • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
    • Muscles tension

    I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

    Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

    Breathe in through your nose:

    • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
    • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
    • Focus on your belly rising.

    Breathe out through your nose:

    • Feel your lungs emptying.
    • Focus on your belly falling.
    • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

    Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

    Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

    One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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    Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

    For the Sleep Depriver

    (They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

    I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

    Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

    1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
    2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

    When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

    From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

    For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

    If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

    You can also use this technique any time you want to:

    • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
    • Shut down your thinking.
    • Calm your feelings.
    • Simply focus on the present moment. 

    The Bottom Line

    Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

    You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

    Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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    Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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