In this chapter, we’ll take a look at various techniques we can use to reshape what we believe. These techniques have been collected from a wide variety of sources, so you’re sure to find something that resonates with you. Some techniques are fun and playful, while others are structured and ‘serious’. Use whatever feels right for you, including a combination of techniques.
What Beliefs Are
Although we’ve been discussing the power of belief through-out this book, we have yet to actually define what a belief is. This will help us dig a little deeper and be more effective in our work.
According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, a belief is “a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing.”
Pretty simple, actually.
Of course, to really understand this, we need to know exactly what it means to place trust or confidence in something or some-one. What happens inside our minds when we trust someone? Do our minds put them into a folder of a different color, or place a sticker on their head that says “trust me”?
It’s a cute image, but probably not very accurate. It’s more likely that our minds simply create an association between a person and the concept of trust itself. Kind of like a dictionary reference that says “see also…”
Whenever our minds call up a memory, a number of associated thoughts and emotions are brought forth along with it. That’s why when you think of the concept of ‘dog’, you get one or more images representing what that word means. And if you have any strong emotions about dogs in general, or even about one specific dog from your past, they will also come forward and be recognized, even if only on a subconscious level.
When you think about what it means to trust someone, your mind brings up associated memories demonstrating trust in action, and a feeling of trust and confidence comes with them, whether you consciously recognize it or not.
The same thing happens in reverse. When you think of a particular person you trust, your mind activates the associated thought of what trust itself is. And when you think about some-thing you believe in completely, your mind brings forth a feeling of confidence along with it.
This phenomenon is the central mechanism responsible for our capacity to learn. If our minds did not recall associated mem-ories, we would not be able to use previous knowledge to handle current circumstances. We would have to relearn everything all over again each time we encountered the same type of situation.
So every morning, we’d have to relearn how to walk, and every time we got into a car, we’d have to relearn how to drive. How would we ever get anywhere?
This phenomenon is also why our universal beliefs and our beliefs about the world in general are so much more influential than our beliefs about one specific situation. They are referenced more often.