We are astounding when it comes to having all the wrong ideas and notions in our heads. The truth is- we crave them. Our stories and self-limiting beliefs gradually define our reality to the extent of subtly screwing us over.
Many of the self-beliefs become so evident that they couldn’t possibly be wrong. Moreover, our undying love affair with ourselves and our beliefs about life hurts us in the long run. Our constant glorification and sometimes defilement of self puts us in a spot. Either way, we believe our ideology to be correct and live by it. In essence, a belief of “I can” and “I can’t” are both true, and that’s the tricky part. You are correct, even if you are not because you live by it and your decision is steady in your head.
But our beliefs are never accurate. Everything we believe, at some point in our lives, turns out inaccurate, fully or partially. Yet, we hold on to them like our guiding principles. Not once do we imagine the repercussions of false beliefs.
Beliefs are how we make sense of the world and things around it. It is a guiding principle of how you navigate your life and the complexity around it. They are the mental design of how our brain expects things in real-time while connecting the dots between different happenings. Agreement or not, we live with certain beliefs, effectively making them our mental template for survival.
Schwitzgebel(2010) defines belief as “mental acceptance or conviction in the truth or actuality of an idea.”
It starts early as a child. As adults, we research and derive a logical conclusion, effectively forming an ideology and concept. During our childhood, the formation is more or less accidental and haphazard. You don’t research but pick up things from a figure of authority like parents, elders, and teachers.
The difference between a random belief and ideal formation is as below:
- We hear or see something;
- Verify, if said by someone influential and a figure of authority;
- If yes, we believe it;
- Later, if we desire, we think about it and verify it, determining it to be true or false.
- We think over it, research it, verify, and apply, determining whether it to be true or false; only then;
- We form a belief.
Unfortunately, most beliefs are random, and we tend to hold on to them as our philosophy.
Our core beliefs are hard to shake, and they get formed during our childhood.
As a child, if you were constantly compared with your peers and scolded basis the comparison, you will develop a negative belief of inferiority.
As we grow old, we have varied information sources and an expansive purview to cling on to and vet.
Nevertheless, the core beliefs formed as young children are defining, and even when we confront new data or explanations, we often cling to the old ones.
Now, look at our most common self-beliefs and how we live by them. Correct or incorrect, we have these as our go-to principles to deal with situations.
We need to look at these rationally and understand the pitfalls they possess. We would look at the most common one to ascertain the limiting or incorrect ideology we live and conduct.
#1. If I have ‘that,’ I’ll be happy
Catch yourself reminiscing sometimes, and you’ll notice that happiness in most cases never arrived.
Because we put a tag to it and associate happiness with some “thing.”
The constant pursuit is an indicator of some void we try to fill. We chase the intangible and material things believing an acquisition or some achievement is our key to happiness.
Happiness to us becomes a goal rather than a state. The problem with this association is of making ends meet. While goals should be our means to an end, we make them the ultimate end. A voice inside sets the pattern, identifying goal achievement or the “thing” as happiness.
Identifying happiness with things is a formula to disaster, and once you invest in this idea, disappointments galore. The thing with goals is- they are bound to elude us sometimes. You may set targets and milestones for yourself; failure or reaching short of something is always a probability.
When you fall short of your expectation, you’ll be disappointed.
When you reach your goal, but it doesn’t make you feel different- you’ll still end up miserable, or you start the quest for the next “thing.”
#2. It’s too late to follow a dream or some passion
Always find what you like and get hell-bent on making it happen. It is as simple as it can get. We often see success stories of how people create magical things, even when they are supposedly too old or too young.
The critical factor here is the purpose. Are you in it only for the money or fame? The idea behind following your dreams requires some nobility. The deciding factor should be your commitment and love towards it. We are destined for different paths in our lives, making us the sole owner of our dream. If we believe in our conviction, we should strive for it no matter the age.
It works either way- you can pursue your passion at a very young age or while you get old. The number of candles on your cake shouldn’t be a deterrent to your dreams.
From Bill Gates, Steve Jobs to J.K. Rowling and Colonel Sanders, there are stories from young to old who were persistent and followed their passion, making it big.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re 9-year-old selling used goods in the neighborhood, or you’re 60 something trying to figure out the next move. If you don’t try, you’ll never know whether you would succeed. Even if you don’t, that’s fine too.
#3. More is always better
We swear by it. Ok, travel back in time. Remember how a piece of cake is randomly cut and put on all plates at a party or a pizza slice distributed between friends. Now, what would you select, or let’s say the majority does.
Always the large piece. Yes, because more is better. Even if we can’t gauge the exact size, our eyes measure it and pick the more. The trend continues when we grow up like more money, friends, house, and fun. The more wagon continues to roll.
We want more as if to fill some void. Our actions and each step gets aligned towards getting more. If you have x and someone x+, then you need to have x+1.
Perhaps, a few understand that materialistic consumption is a useless pursuit, but the majority believe in acquiring more.
Moreover, if not materialistic, they turn to experiential pursuits by wanting more peace, fun, options, and experiences. Whatever is available is always less becomes our life predicament.
Whether it is material wealth or experiences, we get stuck in a loop of striving for more. We should cut the unnecessary, ending the addictive cycle of more consumption and experiences.
Re-writing the beliefs
No doubt, our beliefs help us getting through in situations where we might be clueless otherwise. Most limiting beliefs are subconscious, hence become regular and constant in our lives. We must uncover their true nature and expose them.
A critical part of the process is to be skeptical of your own beliefs and questioning them. When we think of a situation and our response, we derive conclusions from our existing thought patterns.
If you’re facing financial issues, introspect on your belief about money.
If you’re constantly unhappy and wait for some milestone, introspect on your belief about happiness.
You have to develop positive scepticism of your beliefs and work on them. Observe, question, and then re-write the patterns that push you into a miserable state. If only we know something, the fact that every belief we hold is inevitably wrong, even if partially. Not every thought pattern would be flawed, but we can update and improve on them.
A mindset of constructive criticism that helps in weeding out the problem is a must. Since forming a belief is dependent on a host of factors, the idea is not to develop an ideal one but to continuously re-invent and update. It is like re-training the brain to adapt to new patterns.