In the last post, I wrote about the model for the mind as being alive. All the ideas, thoughts, and beliefs in the mind are alive as well. Then how do you get rid of negative thinking emotional reaction stemming from a belief system that is alive? These ideas and beliefs need to go through a death process.
Three ways to change a belief
- You can starve them with skepticism.
- Give them a death that is more like a transformation.
- End a belief with an Intentful Initiation of Death experience through a process like ceremony
Change a Belief through Skepticism
What is the food that nourishes a belief and keeps thoughts alive in your mind? It is faith. Faith isn’t just what religious people have. Everyone has faith. It’s just a difference of what ideas are invested with that faith. Faith is that force that gives your opinions certainty. Scientists have faith in their theories, protocols, and how much they love their spouses and children.
When you have faith in yourself, your skill, or that the outcome will be okay, you feel confident. If you have faith in fearful ideas about bad results or bad things happening to you, you will feel insecure and afraid. In both cases, you are using the power of your faith.
What happens when you take your faith out of ideas or no longer invest in those same ideas? Those ideas lose their power. You move into awareness that you don’t know. At first, this might seem uncomfortable as there seems to be a feeling of “safe” associated with not knowing.
Moving from faith in “something terrible will happen” to “I don’t know what will happen” is more uncertain but less fearful. In this step a person generally feels uncomfortable not knowing. Then you can find your footing and begin to feel more comfortable in not knowing. In the process of moving into “I don’t know,” the fear-based belief of “something terrible is going to happen” is dying because it is no longer fed your power of faith.
As the belief is starving, it will amplify the emotions and push thoughts, trying to make you believe them. You need a strong level of awareness and resolve to kill off beliefs this way. You also need to reverse your thinking about progress. When the thoughts and emotions of death by this belief felt, the mind will say, “it isn’t working” or “ we are going in the wrong direction.”
The situation is not comfortable for the belief, and you are aware of the dying process happening inside you. The belief certainly feels that not being fed and starving is “not working”. But if your goal is to break free of this belief, you will need to weather the storm of its throes for a while. In this avenue of change, feeling “worse” during this death is part of progress. Things are getting better, but you can’t measure that by the emotions you are feeling in the process.
The more you engage in this approach, the more comfortable you become with these emotional cycles.
Changing a Belief Through Transformation.
Energy and matter are neither created nor destroyed. They are converted back and forth and transformed in different ways. You can do the same with the energy of thoughts and emotions in your mind. What if you love the beliefs creating your fears and inner critic?
Your fears live on faith and create more fear. Your inner critic lives off the faith you invest in the self-judgment. Your anger lives on faith and creates more anger. What if you treat your fears, anger, and inner critic with acceptance and love instead of faith in them? Your approach of not believing them is the same, but you add a loving and accepting attitude instead of being detached.
You can love and be patient with your toddler as they do their temper tantrums, provided you aren’t too tired yourself. Of course, they will still be upset as you tell them no, I’m not going to believe you. If you treat your fears, anger, and inner critic with acceptance allowance and love, they will also be upset. You are not giving them the food they are used to. They want your faith to go into their stories.
Those living organisms of fear, anger, and judgmental stories are being bathed in love and acceptance. Love and acceptance are the only things for them to eat. When a living belief is faced with the choice between dying or transforming itself with a new food like love and acceptance, it will adapt. As it ingests the new dream of love and acceptance, it becomes what it eats and is transformed.
In this approach, you also need a strong awareness and skepticism. You need to refrain from investing faith in thoughts of fear, anger, or the judge. In addition to the skepticism, you need skill in applying love and acceptance during the process.
For those of you that inventory the stories of your characters, you often find characters have the intention of trying to help or protect in some way. For example, the judge tries to pressure or punish, so you are motivated to get better or be perfect. When you see these “good intention” aspects, it is easier to apply the acceptance and love transformation components instead of just skepticism.
You can experience this approach of transformation in the Self Mastery lessons on Forgiveness and Acceptance. In the transformation approach, your characters are transformed from parasites to allies.
Change a Belief by Initiation of Death
Everything that is temporal dies. Including ideas. You can kill that tree in your backyard by not giving it water. That’s the starvation through skepticism approach. You can cut some limbs off a tree and graft on the branches a different fruit. That’s the transformation approach. Or, you can take a backhoe tractor and dig it out. I suppose a good amount of explosives would do the job as well. This is the initiation of death process, as it is called in many spiritual traditions.
How does that translate to getting rid of a belief in your mind?
In personal transformation or spiritual work, the term awakening is often used. It can be a blast of love or consciousness that happens in a dream, ceremony, insightful meditation, or initiation process. The love and consciousness move your emotional state, and perception so far out of the story, and blasts it with emotion, that it is permanently changed.
When you experience overwhelming unconditional love or compassion, your mind needs to integrate that new experience. The agnostic becomes the spiritual person. Your understanding of what the world is made of and what is possible is re-written across the neural pathways. Previous ideas of your “self” dissolve, and how you related to others and the world dissolve as well in the paradigm created from a new experience.
The Fasting Cleanse over Lent was a slower version of this for those that participated. It was an intent-filled process where you changed your habits and experienced something new. It wasn’t a full spiritual awakening, but certainly awakened people from unconscious habits. The experience of change was so tangible that old belief paradigms about food, drinks, body, hunger, and habits are broken for good.
Friends who have attended ten-day silent Vipassana retreats have broken beliefs and emotional patterns they didn’t know they had. Stuff rises to the surface, they sat through it, and there becomes a breaking point where the story and emotion no longer survive. In Teotihuacan and on other Power Journeys, we create intent-filled ceremonies to blast through the shell of fog that surrounds us and open our hearts to great amounts of love and Divine Consciousness. These leaps in consciousness are very unlike the intellectual processes of the Self Mastery Course.
What is the best way to change a belief?
When I am working on my house repairs, sometimes I need a hammer, sometimes a saw, screwdriver, wrench, or shovel. The best tool or method to change a belief varies and is situational.
A small belief can be plucked out simply with awareness when you see it as if you spotted a weed in your garden and grab it with your fingers. Some beliefs are the size of a bush and you need to dig a while with a shovel. A big belief system might be like a tree with deep roots. You cut off the water for a while, or cut off some branches, then finally dig out the trunk with a backhoe so you can plant something new.
Some beliefs get chipped away over time with skepticism. You then learn to be more accepting of your past, how emotional patterns helped you at certain times in your life. This reduces the belief and transforms it some more. Then, perhaps it gets finished off in a forgiveness ceremony or ritual you create or is part of a guided group process.
For your own entertainment purposes, whatever your plan for changing your beliefs, it is good to write it down in detail. Then later, you can go back and read about your plan for change and laugh. I haven’t changed two beliefs in the exact same way. Each one is different.
Common to any belief change process seems the conservation of energy. It takes a similar amount of energy to dissolve a belief as was used to create it. The little weed in the garden comes out quickly with your two fingers. A belief that has been growing for 20 or 30 years is like a tree that needs more energy to make a shift. It can be changed in a day but perhaps needs a powerful desire, intent, and ceremonial process to be uprooted.
Your approach to changing beliefs will change.
My approach, in the beginning, was ruthless skepticism. It worked because I had an aggressive attitude. I had just come from the military and looked at it as a war I was fighting for freedom and happiness. This approach is probably more masculine and may appeal more to men.
Over the years I have cultivated more feminine qualities in my approach. These are not as aggressive, but just as powerful. I am more patient, compassionate, and accepting of my emotions these days. I can sit and be with what is going on without needing to “do something” to change.
It’s shocking how much change happens to your thoughts and emotions when you are calmly accepting of the chaos. When we stop reacting and “doing something about it”, and are just present with the thought or emotion, we change the environment it sits in. It receives our presence and compassion. In our own accepting presence, change happens. Early in my journey, I didn’t have control of my attention and ability to be present with my own emotions.
The “problems” and pain are often created by our reactions to the initial feeling or belief. (See the Acceptance practice in the Self Mastery course for more on this approach.)
In the beginning, work with an approach that fits your strengths. Notice what you don’t have an inclination for at the moment, and develop these skills in time.
If you are impatient, then making a belief inventory is a process you can dig into aggressively and feel like you are doing something.
If you don’t have much personal power to hold your attention, put yourself into practice with a group. The social confirmation of other people doing something together will help you focus.
If you have been a parent, then you have experience with patience and compassion for young toddlers. You can take this mindset and skill and apply it to your own thoughts and emotions.
Your particular journey to change your beliefs will include the elements described above, and you will put them together in your unique way. The Self Mastery course will give you guidance on developing all the skills needed to change your beliefs.
Thanks for reading.