Start Challenging Your Beliefs

Last weeks post looked into our beliefs and came up with the, unsurprising,  suggestion that perhaps we should abandon our unhelpful, negative beliefs.

beliefs are like headlights...

beliefs are like headlights...

People confuse their beliefs with facts, and generally a belief is something we see as being true.  Having been told all their life that they’re useless, a person with low self esteem may see this as a fact of life, rather than a belief they have learnt over the years.

Our mind is full of thoughts, that we are conscious of; our belief system is generally silent and we don’t notice it. But our thoughts arise from that belief system.

“Just because you’ve believed something for a long time doesn’t mean its right. It just means you’ve believed it for a long time!”  Craig Harper.

Take Stock

Thats why its useful to take stock and separate out what you believe and why. For example, you may be a vegetarian because of a decision you made in your teens that eating meat was unhealthy and cruel to animals. Or it could be that you were brought up in a strict “meat is murder” household, where there was never any  questioning of this as a fact. In both cases you would have an underlying belief that eating meat is wrong, but reached from different directions.

If we are out driving a car at night, we only see the bit of the world that our headlights pick up. Our whole awareness, what we take see,  is determined by what our beliefs allow us to see:-

Even though there is a whole world out there in the darkness at night, you only see what your headlights, or belief systems, reveal.  This is very similar to how your awareness operates.  In awareness, however, your belief systems act as your headlights.  In other words, your beliefs focus your awareness in the same way that your headlights direct your vision.  John Sklare

This may sound an over simplification, but it does emphasize how our belief systems narrow our view of the world.

Start Questioning

Questioning and challenging our beliefs is in itself a major way of changing them. A word of warning – if you are happy with a belief and it gives you a positive foundation in your life, don’t start questioning it too deeply!

Olympic gold medalist, world record holder and world champion triple jumper Jonathan Edwards became renown as a Christian after he refused to compete in the 1991 world championships because it involved competing on a  Sunday. He later relented on competing on a Sunday, but throughout his successful career he often stated how his faith sustained him. On retirement he became a broadcaster and presented the BBC’s top religious programme “Song of Praise” and fronted a documentary on St Paul. But:-

“Once you start asking yourself questions like, ‘How do I really know there is a God?’ you are already on the path to unbelief… It made me realize that I had taken things for granted that were taught to me as a child without subjecting them to any kind of analysis. When you think about it rationally, it does seem incredibly improbable that there is a God.” Jonathan Edwards quoted in The Times

It came up in the last post that we are taught religion as facts, rather than as ideas to investigate and find our own path. I don’t bring this up to start a debate on religion, but simply to get you thinking about beliefs and where yours come from. If someone like Jonathan Edwards can abandon a deeply held belief in God by questioning, how about that belief that you’re not good enough?

Ask yourself questions – why do you think or act in a particular way? On what belief is this based, how did you come to that decision? And if your belief is based on the views or opinions of others, what sort of reasoning is behind their thinking?

Change Habits

One method to help both identify your beliefs and challenge them is do different things.  Read a different newspaper (or blog, forum, book),  watch TV shows you don’t normally see, take a different route to work, eat something new for lunch.  I have repeated come back to the point that much of our daily behavior is based on habit. This helps us by giving a reassuring structure to our lives and stops us burning out by having to make too many decisions.

But changing habits is a relatively easy way to start exploring the beliefs. Learn different things, expose yourself to different points of view, deliberately step outside your comfort zone.

Best of all, interact with different people. How much do your political opinions reflect those of your parents? How much of your negativity reflects the type of people you talk to each day?

Who we interact with doesn’t necessarily determine our beliefs, but it can reinforce them or influence them. If you spend your time with uplifting, positive people that will also help change your view of the world. If you have a manager who has great belief in you, constantly praises and reinforces your efforts, then your belief in you will change as well. Sadly, thats not the common experience.

Step Outside your Comfort Zone

Going back to the post by Craig Harper I linked to last post, he suggests

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.

So when we do something we didn’t think possible, like run a marathon, it challenges that underlying belief  regarding our abilities as a runner/sportsman. But it also helps us challenge other beliefs, by recognising anything is possible. Your self talk can change to “Well if I can run a marathon why should I be scared of talking to ten people…”

Remember, as Henry Ford famously said:-

If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.

photo by DerrickT on Flickr
creativeherb November 4, 2008 at 5:37 am

I totally agree with having to step outside of your comfort zone. I truly believe in keeping an open mind to anything and everything. Of course it is easier said than done. Most people proclaim having an open mind, but of course that only extends as far as their predetermined boundaries. Question everything, twice. (when there’s time to do so) Think about it from a few other people’s angles… how awesome the world would be.

Vincent November 4, 2008 at 9:31 am

Whenever we step outside our comfort zone, there are bound to be things that will surprise you and you will be amazed at so many things that you didn’t discover before. Getting out of our comfort zone is definitely a key to unlock our original beliefs.

Personal Development Blogger

Vincents last blog post..How Changing Your Beliefs Can Bring You Success Part 1

Charm6781_Yatie November 4, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Always challenge yourself…you need to do this constantly and it will help you to be aware of your surrounding. Being to comfortable in your zone and same daily routine will not help you, it will only make you unprepared for change.. BE CAREFUL..BE ALERT ALWAYS

Stephan Miller November 4, 2008 at 4:35 pm

All great points. Until you start examining your beliefs, it is really hard to tell what’s holding you back from your dreams.

Stephan Millers last blog post..Affiliate Marketing News and Tips Round Up

coolnetbook November 5, 2008 at 11:22 pm

I agree, sometimes the best way to really find out what needs to be done is to put yourself outside your comfort zone. It will open your perspective and help create focus and confidence.

easy self esteem November 7, 2008 at 11:32 pm

I think challenging your belief is a must if you want to grow and become a stronger person. Our current beliefs are never perfect and building better beliefs and habits will help us make a major break-troughs in our daily life success.

James November 11, 2008 at 10:16 pm

very true, our beliefs can sometimes keep us from doing other wonderful things… in extreme cases it can be so ‘debilitating’ a person cannot function normally…

Rahul November 14, 2008 at 2:32 am

I couldn’t agree more with what you’re conveying with this article. Beliefs are one of the most important things we can learn to change in order to directly improve the results we experience in our life.

By consciously adopting empowering beliefs while ridding ourselves of disempowering ones, we are well on our way to creating the life of our dreams.

Cheers, and thanks for the article.

Rahuls last blog post..Making the Most of Your School Education

catylincairo November 14, 2008 at 5:58 am

I think challenging your belief is a must if you want to grow and become a stronger person.Always challenge yourself…I like this .And i really agree with you.

mma gloves November 19, 2008 at 5:11 pm

Being able to challenge your beliefs can open up your mind to a different views, and helps you find new ways to unlock potential.

mma glovess last blog post..Triumph*United Japanese Heatseeker Training Gloves

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