We all have many different beliefs about many different things. We have beliefs about ourselves, about what we are capable of doing and what we deserve. We have beliefs about other people and whether we can trust them or not. We have beliefs about the world in general and what we can expect to happen in various situations. We have beliefs about specific situations, such as the Tuesday morning meeting with an important client, our next vacation, and the first time we fell in love. We also have beliefs about the ultimate nature of the universe and where we fit in.
All of these beliefs influence the way we live our lives and the decisions we make. There is also substantial evidence suggesting that our beliefs are so powerful, they shape the events that happen in the world around us.
Let’s take a look at a few examples which demonstrate the true power of beliefs in our world. I think you may be surprised to discover the amount of influence beliefs have over everything you experience.
The most obvious example of the effect our beliefs have in our lives can be found in the decisions we make.
Let’s say that two different companies would like to hire you. The first job is with a local company and offers a salary that is 50% more than you currently earn. The second job is with a company in another state and offers to double your current salary.
When making this kind of decision, we usually weigh the pros and cons of each choice, considering factors we believe are important.
For instance, do we really believe that the outfit we happen to be wearing when we get the news makes any difference in our decision? Probably not. But factors such as the company’s location, the salary offered, and our chances for promotion are usually believed to be important, so we take those into consideration.
If we believe that important factors include the personalities of our potential co-workers, or the alignment of the stars on the proposed starting day, then we would consider such information before making a final decision.
If you’re like most people, you believe you’re worth more than you’re currently being paid, yet may have trouble believing you’re worth twice as much. This incongruity may cause you to back away from such an offer, thinking that “it’s too good to be true.”
Also involved in this example are your beliefs about your ability to succeed and thrive in new experiences. If you believe it’s likely for you to fail when away from your friends and family, you’ll be less likely to take the job in the other state, and will probably stick with the local company. However, if you feel confident in your ability to rise to the challenge (i.e.- if you believe you could be successful after moving away), then that’s another matter entirely.
Whether we feel good or bad about moving to a new state and leaving friends and family behind comes from our beliefs about those specific relationships and the beliefs we have regarding relationships in general.
If you have difficult people in your life, do you believe it would be good to leave them behind, or do you believe it’s important to resolve those differences before moving on? These “universal beliefs” affect almost every decision we make.
When considering the possibility of joining a new community, do you believe that the people there will accept you, or do you believe they may reject you instead? Do you believe it’s easy to make new friends, or do you believe that true friends are hard to find? Most of us aren’t consciously aware of these beliefs, yet we respond to the overall feeling they produce within us on a subconscious level.
Many of these same beliefs influence our decisions in other areas of life as well. Our beliefs about how easy it is to make new friends usually influence our decisions in romantic relationships too. If you believe it’s easy to make new connections with other people, you’ll approach your love relationships differently than someone who believes new connections take months to form.
Someone who believes intense relationships never last may back away from an intensely enjoyable relationship simply because they believe it will end quickly and don’t want to be hurt in the process. Rather than responding to the situation as it is, they respond to what they believe will be true in the future.
Most of us have beliefs about what is ‘normal’ in any given situation. This tends to make us suspicious when something is “too good to be true.” Even though we may be getting everything we ever dreamed of and more, we start looking for the problems we believe MUST be there, subconsciously sabotaging the situation because we don’t believe it can be that good.
These beliefs about what is ‘normal’ will also motivate us to improve a situation we feel is lacking. This is one reason why those who focus on a lack of success in their lives will often be motivated to work harder to produce a better result. As long as they believe that success is possible, they tend to experience the success they believe is ‘normal’. This is one example of how a person can get a positive result from negative thinking.
Already, we have practical evidence of how our beliefs affect all areas of our life through the influence they have over our decisions. If we’ve been happy with the decisions we’ve made over the course of our life, then we can be satisfied with the beliefs supporting them. But if our decisions have left a trail of casualties in our wake, with bridges burned and opportunities lost, then choosing a new set of beliefs seems to be a worthwhile endeavor.
Let’s see what else we can find.