Have you ever tried to change a habit, negative thought, or emotional reaction and struggled to make that change stick? If you struggled to make changes it is probably because you didn’t address the underlying belief system driving that habit, thought, or emotion.
Belief systems affect every area of your life. Beliefs affect most of your emotions, thoughts you think, productivity, relationships, and attitude.
Your belief systems will determine what kind of decisions you make for yourself in terms of heath, food, exercise, financial independence, happiness, smart relationships or whether you will create chaos and drama in these areas. If you feel you, your life, emotions, or your mind is out of control then what is it that has control? It is your beliefs, most of which are unconscious that have control of your mind. Unless you become aware and begin to take charge of your beliefs your beliefs will continue to have control of your thoughts and emotions. Here is an example of how beliefs in your mind can take a small thing and spiral into a major event.
Your partner leaves a dirty dish on the counter (or some other pet peeve like not taking out the trash). You become upset, really upset. Your mind goes through a series of associations over the next 5 min or 5 hours. It creates a chain of narratives linking one thought to another leading your nervous system to spiral in emotions. It might go something like this:
They left the dirty dishes out again.
I’ve told them a dozen times that’s not okay. It just makes more sense to wash it (put it in the dishwasher) right away.
They don’t listen to me.
It’s like they don’t respect me.
Do I have to clean everything up myself?
I’m the only one that cleans up around here.
If they can’t respect and appreciate me then I’m not cared about.
I can’t live with someone who treats me this way.
In a short shifting of narratives our mind has associated leaving the dirty dishes out to not listened to and not respected. This is associated to not being loved and that you should consider exiting the relationship. These are the narratives powered beliefs the mind provides all on its own. Beliefs propel the story from facts about the dishes to emotional meaning about the relationship and value. With awareness you can move your perspective and be the observer of your mind and not get emotionally caught up in the spiral. If you don’t have self-awareness, you get taken for an emotional ride and are compelled to act on those emotions. In this way we are slaves to our beliefs and the emotional narratives they drive in our mind. Breaking free of the traps in your mind begins with acknowledging that your mind has you boxed in by your beliefs. To change it is not enough to just work on the thoughts and emotions. Beliefs are the source of those thoughts and emotions.
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No. Those emotions and the program of thoughts happen without your choice or even consent. How do they happen? Your belief system has a mind of its own. Your rational mind will say, “they” or “the situation” did something to make you respond that way. But that is a lie. On another day, when you are feeling different, the same thing might not bother you. It also assumes the cause was completely outside of you. If that were the case, then everyone would respond the same way to the same event. People do not all respond the same way all the time to an event, yet they attribute their emotions or feelings to the event. Saying that your thoughts, emotions, or reactions were caused by someone or something outside of you is one of the most disempowering beliefs you can have. It is also false.
To learn more about what makes the consciousness different than the ego – see this resource.
Is a joke funny or offensive? People interpret jokes with a different sense of perspective and humor. Each person processes the joke through their beliefs, and “see” the funny through their lens of beliefs. You can also have different beliefs that are active or dormant at different time. This often depends on mood. If you are in a good mood, the joke or person is perceived as funny. If you are tired or frustrated, the person or joke is annoying. Even within yourself you change the filters of your beliefs in how you experience any event in the world. You can perceive how your different beliefs are active depending on your emotional state at the time. If you are depressed you will have a set of beliefs congruent with depressed thoughts about yourself and views on the world. If you are optimistic you will have a set of beliefs congruent with that mindset.
There are similar beliefs happening in experiencing jealousy, anxiety, and anger. Another person with a different perspective, and a different set of beliefs will interpret the same situation differently. They might not get angry or jealous at all. You might get angry and jealous in one moment, and later feel that you over-reacted. This is because different beliefs are active and dormant at different times within you. Your angry emotional beliefs will interpret that they are justified. When you calm down your rational mind has different beliefs and will think that you over-reacted. Most people operate with conflicting beliefs and this creates internal emotional turmoil. Even when you believe you are consciously choosing, brain scans have shown your mind is likely making decision at a level you are unconscious of.
Reacting emotionally is made instantly, emotionally, and silently within the belief system. Beliefs are like preset programs in the mind that launch emotional reactions when activated. Your beliefs interpret a situation automatically and gives your nervous system a response of emotion and justification, without asking you if you want to consider alternatives. Your first emotions and words might be accusatory, blaming, or defensive before you ask any questions for clarification. This is your belief system running your behavior and your life at times. Your belief system is making interpretations in your mind that create emotions and behaviors and then you act them out. This is fine if you are going to change lanes on the freeway. It’s not if you are over-reacting in your relationship.
When you have a reaction and feel that your partner has too close a friendship with their ex or someone at work your belief system is calculating much more than you are consciously aware. Your conscious mind might be aware of some social media activity or texting. But your unconscious mind might be programming your emotional reaction, and accusations based on things like:
* An experience of your past relationships.
*What close friends and family members have experienced in relationships.
* The emotional security and self-soothing capability you developed as a child in developing healthy attachment style
*Beliefs about your partners gender stereotype.
*What you read in a Cosmo article online recently about fidelity
* Self worth and self-judgment thoughts in your head affecting your emotions
* Fear of being alone
* Self confidence and feelings of your own emotional security
* Beliefs about what “appropriate” social behavior is
* Relationships you have with your ex’s as a measure of what is “appropriate”
* How tired you are which will affect your ability to suppress your emotional responses and think more clearly.
* Fidelity and trust your parents have in each other growing up as a relationship model
* and twenty to fifty other relationship experiences that inform your belief system
Your rational conscious mind doesn’t take all this history into account, but you belief system has stored a great deal of emotional memories to draw from. If you ask yourself, “Why did I overreact? You probably don’t have a good answer. You might have an excuse, but not a good satisfying answer. That is because your rational mind doesn’t include the belief system into its assessment. Until you do, you will miss out on the cause of your reactions. If you miss out on understanding the real cause of your behavior, then you will miss out on how to change it.
Your belief systems affect every area of your life, most importantly they will affect your happiness and misery. They are behind your emotional outbursts, anxiety, depression, insecurity, financial decisions, intimacy issues, commitment, and effectiveness in communication. Your beliefs determine whether you feel worthy enough to be happy, or whether you feel it is even possible to make changes. If your belief system is programmed with, “This is just the way I am, and I will always be this way,” then it is precluding you from considering options that would help you have a life you want.
To learn more about where our pain comes from – see this resource.
Fortunately, belief systems are changeable.
If you effectively address your belief systems, my experience is that you can change any thought pattern, emotional state, and behavior you wish.
What changes would you like to make in your life? Notice how your mind can give thoughts about whether that change is possible or not? There are already beliefs in your mind about whether it can happen, or it won’t. There may be beliefs with hopes and beliefs with doubts and fears about changes being possible. Take a moment to notice how your mind reacts to the idea of change being possible. These are pre-programmed response of beliefs in your mind. Your mind has beliefs about changing beliefs. It will have beliefs of hope and fear about the Self Mastery Course working or not working even if it doesn’t know anything about it yet.
This awareness of this programmed resistance of thoughts is the first step to making changes. The next step is skepticism of these doubts and fears trying to make decisions for you based on imagined assumptions.
Awareness and skepticism are two critical elements to changing beliefs.
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Describing beliefs is difficult because they are invisible and silent in the beginning. Once you begin to notice them you will see them everywhere running people’s lives and the world.
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