The idea that we have the power to control every aspect of our lives simply by choosing what we believe is a very seductive concept. However, this seems to fly in the face of common sense and traditional science. And if it’s true, then why isn’t it obvious?
That’s certainly a reasonable question to ask. After all, over the course of time, we’ve discovered how to do many different things, including how to harness the power of the atom for both destruction and electrical power, and how to create super-complex computer systems that can produce fantastically realistic special effects in movies and television commercials.
Although when we sit and think about it, how much of what we’ve learned over time was obvious? For example, how obvious is it to mix flour, oil, eggs, milk, sugar, baking powder, and cocoa to make a chocolate cake? Maybe we should ask any of the thousands who have trouble getting it right even with a recipe.
It has always amazed me to wonder how anyone thought to mix that combination of ingredients, and to keep trying the many possible combinations until they produced an edible result. How many eggs should we put in, one, two, twenty? How much flour this time, a handful or a pound?
Similarly, how obvious is it to turn grapes into wine? As I understand it, the fermentation process involves a precise control of temperature, a mix of different kinds of yeast, a way to prevent oxygen from getting to the mixture, and then waiting for 10 to 30 days. And then there’s an additional aging process after that!
Maybe we’ve been too busy discovering so many different things that we just haven’t come around to discovering the connection between beliefs and experience.
On the other hand, even though it may not be obvious that our beliefs directly affect the world around us, there have been people throughout history who have discovered the truth and tried to tell us how important our beliefs are. It’s not exactly a new concept, but one that has been around for thousands of years.
The problem most people have when presented with this idea is that they remember a time (or many times) when they sincerely believed something would happen and then it didn’t. Or they had some other experience that contradicted one or more of their beliefs.
Maybe they went for a job interview and really believed they would get the job. But, for one reason or another, the interview didn’t go well, and they were not selected for the position. Or maybe they believed that a particular individual would be attracted to them and fall in love, but events followed a different path. Whatever the situation, they remember a time when they believed one thing would happen, and yet something different transpired.
If our beliefs really do determine the experiences we have in life, then how can we possibly believe one thing and experience something different?
Let me ask you a question. When you go into a situation, do you have only one belief about it, or are there several different beliefs on several different levels relating to the same situation? Surely, if you are honest with yourself, you will realize that you have many different beliefs about any situation you encounter, and some beliefs simply contradict other beliefs.
For instance, let’s say that you’re starting a new relationship with someone and the two of you have gone out on a few dates. You might believe you are compatible with each other and the other person is falling in love with you. What other beliefs could influence the situation?
Do you believe you are lovable? Do you believe relationships are easy, or do you believe they are difficult? Do you believe you deserve love and happiness? Do you believe that other people are predictable, or do you believe they can do foolish things? Do you believe you generally get what you want, or do you believe you are ‘unlucky’? Do you believe you always get what you expect, or do you believe that life is full of surprises?
That last question is a very powerful one. If you believe life is full of surprises and that you don’t always get what you expect, can you imagine what possibilities present themselves? If beliefs control our lives, then wouldn’t the belief that “we don’t always get what we expect” open the door to experiencing things other than what we believe on the surface level?
The first thing we notice when we take a look at the many different beliefs affecting any one situation is the sheer number of beliefs we have within us. We take most of them for granted, believing “that’s just the way it is” without realizing that our attitude about those beliefs is ITSELF a belief.
For thousands of years, scientists thought they knew that physical matter was static and infinitely predictable, and yet with the new discoveries of quantum physics, they’ve had to face the idea that it was only a belief, and reality could, in fact, be quite different. There’s really no way of knowing what the real limits of reality might be.
This tendency to accept some beliefs as ‘truths’ is part of what makes us intelligent and helps us learn new things. If we had to continually question the reality of what we learned before, we’d have very little time for new discoveries. Yet, there are times when it become necessary to re-evaluate what we think we know in order to make sense of new information.
Among the many different beliefs we have within us, there are bound to be some beliefs that contradict other beliefs. For instance, at one time I believed I could do any job well, yet I also believed I would have difficulty earning money. Sometimes I believed I would never be rich, but other times believed I was destined for wealth. I believed I was special and could do more than the average person, yet I also believed success was out of my reach.
I was like the rope in a game of ‘tug of war’, and my beliefs were choosing sides and pulling against each other, trying to see which side was stronger. Like any real game of ‘tug of war’, the more players you have on your side, the easier it is to win. When you have more beliefs pulling you towards success than towards failure, you can sit back and go along for the ride.
Of course, in a game of ‘tug of war’, if you have a few strong players, you can still win even when the other team has more on their side. It’s no great surprise to find that some beliefs are stronger than other beliefs.