You and I are about to get very intimate. In Chapter 1, we reviewed evidence suggesting our beliefs affect the world around us. Now we’ll explore how that concept may manifest in your life.
No matter how much theory you read, the concepts we’re talking about here just don’t hit home until you see the connection for yourself. As the author, I debated with myself about how to do this effectively. It’s not like a coaching situation, where you tell me about your life and I ask questions about what your beliefs were in each situation, helping you to realize the subconscious connections.
I considered telling a series of stories where the power of belief is commonly thought to exist. I thought about sharing case histories of my clients who have had amazing experiences demonstrating the awesome power of belief. I thought about covering the history of various belief systems.
Finally, I realized that none of these would convey the depth of understanding you need to get the most out of this book. If I’m going to make my message clear, I have to do whatever it takes. And to do that, I have to open my soul to you and show you how my own beliefs have directed the course of my life.
This also means I have to reveal parts of myself that are less than perfect. While I’d like to say I’ve perfected my life, let’s face it — I’m human and have my own weaknesses. Like everyone else, I’m trying to be the best I can be, and there’s always room to grow and develop.
Hopefully, you’ll see elements in my story that have similarities to elements in your own life. If so, you may find yourself realizing on a more conscious level the way your beliefs affect your world.
The beginning of my life was spectacularly uneventful. No bright star shining over my head. No fanfare. No crowds of people marveling at the inherent wisdom of a child.
Like most people, I don’t remember the first few years of my life. My earliest memory is of my baby brother coming home from the hospital when I was four and a half. I remember holding him and playing with him.
During those early years, I absorbed much more than just motor skills and the basics of language. I absorbed a lot of what my parents said to each other and to me. I remember from later years how they would talk about money as though there usually wasn’t enough of it, and we’d have to choose what to have and what to do without. I remember some of the fights they had with each other, and the way they worked together as a team. I remember the value they placed on family and keeping in touch with relatives, even if only once a year. I remember many comments about how smart I was.
Whatever happened in those early years, it shaped the core of my self-image, the concept I had of myself, and how I saw the world around me. From those experiences, I collected a set of beliefs about what was ‘normal’ and what I could reasonably expect to experience in life.
As I went through school, my teachers reinforced the belief my parents gave me about my intelligence. Their confidence in my intelligence directed me to get mostly A’s. I could have earned even better grades (possibly straight A’s), but I didn’t feel it was worth the extra effort. My inner beliefs about what I could reasonably expect from life didn’t support the concept of being overly successful, so why bother trying?
This shows us how two different beliefs can pull us in two different directions. I believed I was smart, and my grades tended to reflect this belief, but I also believed I would have a mediocre life where money was tight.
There is a common belief that smart people who get good grades in school will automatically earn lots of money in life. Since I’ve seen others who have experienced this, I see where the possibility does exist, however my life is proof that it’s not always true. I struggled with money issues for much of my life, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Several times over the years, my parents commented on how my brother and I seemed to be “as different as night and day.” Many times they told the story about how I was born with blond hair and blue eyes while Jarrett was born with dark hair and almost black eyes. Perhaps the difference in appearance led to a difference in treatment, which in turn led to our different personalities. Maybe it was something else. For whatever reason, we were taught to believe we were fundamentally different from each other.
Our belief that we were different may have been the main reason Jarrett didn’t do as well in school, and has gone a completely different direction in his life. After all, if we were supposed to be different, and I did well in school, then Jarrett had to do poorly to “be who he was meant to be.”
The same belief may have caused me to feel as if I didn’t fit in with everyone else. Jarrett seemed to make friends more easily than I did, and since we were “as different as night and day” then it was ‘logical’ to assume that I wouldn’t be as lucky. Whether it was logic or something else, that became my experience for many years. I felt like an outcast everywhere I went until I consciously chose to change the belief behind the feeling.
Personally, I see the connection between the beliefs we were taught at home and where we’ve both gone in life. He has simply focused on one subset of beliefs and I’ve focused on a different subset. Although our choices were originally subconscious, we now have the option to choose our beliefs consciously.