Mind Alchemy Day 9 "“ Changing Your Beliefs

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Mind Alchemy

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Mind Alchemy Day 9

Welcome to day 9 of Mind Alchemy.

If you've made it this far and you're really doing all the exercises a huge congratulations to you.   Honestly, human nature shows that most people talk about changing and say they want to change, but don't really do anything about it, even when given the tools to do so, so massive kudos to you.

Okay, today we're going to be looking at one of my favourite topics, and that is beliefs.   This is a huge topic and deserves a lot of time to think about this and read all the information below as it can be a life changing moment for a lot of readers.

I'd like to start this topic with a story

Harvey and his sons

"˜it's not our environment or events in life that shape us it the belief we attach to the environment and those events'.

To illustrate what I'm talking about in that quote I'd like to tell you a story about a guy named Harvey. Harvey is an alcoholic who has two sons; Tommy and Matt.

Harvey has brought Tommy and Matt up exactly the same way. Tommy and Matt's mother died when they were very young.

Harvey was a mean drunk and quite often he would go home and beat his kids up for no reason. This happened throughout Tommy and Matt's lives until they were old enough to leave the family home at 16 or 17 years old.

Harvey was frequently in trouble with the police getting into fights in bars etc. When he got drunk there was always a fight. His sons would be afraid at the thought of him coming home, they would hide or stay away.

Tommy, is now in prison for attempted murder after a brawl in a local bar.   Tommy has two sons, one who is in jail and the other a drug addict. His wife divorced him a number of years ago, due to his alcohol addiction.

Matt, Harvey's other son, has three children; two boys and a girl. He has been married for over 20 years and has a loving relationship with his wife. Matt has a successful business and his turnover is in excess of 10 million dollars per year. He loves his business, and his family and spends as much time with his wife and kids as possible. Matt is 45 years old now and he has the fitness level of a 25 year old, he doesn't take drugs, doesn't drink and he works out three times per week.

When Tommy, who is still in prison, was asked why he turned out the way he did his reply was

"˜how else could my life have turned out with a father like mine'.

When Matt was asked why he turned out the way he did his reply was,

"˜how else could I have turned out with a father like mine'.

The story shows that our perceptions and beliefs about our life, and our surroundings ,can drastically alter how we live our lives.

Beliefs and how to change them

One of the biggest gifts we could ever be given in life, and I mean this quite literally, is knowing that we can change our beliefs.   This is just an amazing piece of knowledge to have, to know that we can actually change beliefs that have been useless and lying unchallenged within us for years.

We have certain beliefs within us just now that are disempowering us, and this is what we want to look at to show you ways how you can disarm the disempowering beliefs or get rid of them altogether and install new beliefs into you own life.

Our beliefs literally shape our reality, your reality is totally different from mine, it's also different from your partners, work colleagues, your kids, people round about you. You're unique to you; the thing that makes you different are the beliefs you hold about your world.  Think about that for a moment – you have created your own world.   Yes we share a lot of constructs, but effectively you have created the world around you and created the person that you are today.   That might bake your noodle a little, but if you can get your head around that and really think about it, it means if you have created your life thus far, it means you can change it as you are the creator.

Dr Bernard Siegel recounts stories of patients with multiple personality disorders who have literately changed eye colour and gone from one personality to another, literally changed eye colour. They have also developed physical symptoms such as diabetes within their bodies simply because they have change from one personality to another each having totally different beliefs about themselves.

That's a stark presentation about how deeply embedded our beliefs are and there is lots of evidence to support this. If you read any of Dr Siegel's books you will realise the power of beliefs. So it not only shows that beliefs are in our mind and can affect our minds, but they can also affect our physical body as well, so they are extremely powerful in themselves so it's important to learn as much about yourself, through your beliefs, as possible, and, if you feel it's necessary, change them or  instil a new belief.

If you look at the placebo affect which basically has two sets of patients who are given two sets of different pills, now one of the sample group receive a sugar pill but the patients are told that the "˜pill' is going to help with their condition; pain, depression etc. The other sampling group are given genuine medication to treat the condition.

What they have found time and time again, since 1955 when the phrase was coined "˜placebo effect', that 50 "“ 60 % of patients respond to the placebo tablet. Meaning 50 "“ 60% of people respond to the sugar pill, so it has the desired effect of positively addressing the condition. That is the power of belief; this doesn't mean to say that human beings are stupid it just means that we are fooling ourselves with the power of the mind. We are fooling ourselves to believe the sugar pill is going to help, and this is reinforced within the hospital/medical setting, and it's a doctor that's given us it all compound our belief in the "˜pill'.

So what it really means is a belief, if we take it down to its basic function,  is something you hold in your mind, it's a concept.    Something you know, with certainty, that something is true, it's a deep feeling within.

A belief is a feeling of certainty, and feeling that something is true.

If you say that you are an intelligent person what you are really saying is you feel you are an intelligent person. That feeling of certainty allows you to tap into your inner resources which will allow you to display a feeling of intelligence which will allow you to think in a different way and take actions in a different way from the perspective of an intelligent person would, or at least how you perceive an intelligent person to behave.

Belief formula

For the purpose of this course I have come up with a belief formula, this is based in my background in Psychology; degree, research; both qualitative and quantitative. So the belief formula is

perception + evidence + time = belief.

Now to illustrate this formula, I'd like to tell you a story about a girl named Sharon who is 22 years old. Sharon has never really believed that she is attractive, that's reflective of a lot of people in the world today, both female and male.

One day whilst at   work, a male friend paid her a compliment, and said she looked really good and "˜hot'. Sharon was taken by surprise by this, but didn't really think anymore about it, but when she went home that night she looked in the mirror and thought about what her friend had said and had the thought that she was actually looking a bit better than she had been.

A few nights later when she was out with friends she was approached by a good looking guy who asked if he could buy her a drink. Sharon was really flattered but politely refused to take the drink, which caused a little stir among her friends, who joked with her about this. Again she was taken aback by this compliment.

She started to reflect on recent events and began to question and challenge her perception of her beliefs in herself. Other small things like this happened over the next few weeks and Sharon's belief was starting to take hold.

A few weeks later,  Sharon is out shopping by herself and she sees a nice pair of jeans and decides to try them on. She looks in the mirror, in the changing room, which as you know can be traumatic for anyone 🙂  and she was able to recognise that she actually looked good and she acknowledged that she liked what she saw in the mirror.

This was the formation of a new belief in herself. A few weeks later her mother says to her that over the last few months there has been a marked difference in her appearance and she was looking wonderful. Now, this was unusual for her mother to pay her a compliment, and she was able to take this compliment in the positive manner in which it had been offered. So she was able to take this belief in the previous few months and let it set in her mind, Sharon has now formed the belief that she is attractive.

Due to the formation of this belief, that she is attractive, which has been reinforced by the compliments of others, she starts to act, dress and even walk differently, due to her new found belief in herself. She begins to dress to accentuate her best assets and she attends the gym to maintain this attractive figure. This change affects her thinking, and she is thinking more positively, more confidently and begins to take on bigger challenges in life.

So, you see that Sharon has a perception of herself about the way she looks.   This perception changes as external reinforcers force her to look at her perception.   More evidence, again in the form of external factors, and internal factors prove to Sharon that she is attractive.   With time and the continuation of evidence building she forms a new belief about herself:

perception + evidence + time = belief

The story of Sharon is quite simplistic in that a belief may be formed over years depending on what stage we are at in life.   But if you look at the transition for Sharon. She was able to challenge her misconceived perceptions and beliefs of herself aided by external reinforcers.

This is what happens with you as well, your beliefs are either positive or negative for you. If you are the type of person where your world looks bleak and dark and miserable it's purely because your belief needs to be altered in relation to how you really are, and how the world really is.

The event is really irrelevant, it is how you react to the event that matters. I know that there will be awful experiences that people will have been through, and the more traumatic the experiences are the more specialist help you will need.  However in general day to day life if you have limiting beliefs in your life you can turn that around, if you wish, purely by turning your beliefs around. Obviously you have to examine your current belief to know what areas you want to change.

The table of beliefs

Tony Robbins uses a metaphor for building your beliefs that is the table metaphor. Basically what this means is you have an imaginary table top on which represents a perception we have about ourselves, in Sharon's case the perception may have been planted when the colleague at work paid her a compliment, at this point it's just a table top it doesn't have any support as such at this stage. As Sharon travelled through the following weeks she received further compliments that have reinforced the positive image in herself, this has resulted in the formation of the "˜legs' for the table, or her perception. It's now able to support the idea of her positive self image, that idea has now turned into a belief about herself and this how we all form beliefs.

Belief formation

When we are younger our beliefs are formed from external forces i.e. parents, teachers, friends, peers and family.  If we respect another person then it is easier to believe what they say; Santa Claus anyone!

In adulthood we have transferred these childhood beliefs, so it's time to look at your beliefs, evaluate them, and identify which ones you want to discard.

Whenever you question something it means you are starting to doubt it, this will lead to more questions, these questions mean you are less likely to believe entrenched attitudes given to you from others.

However, you will be able to retain those beliefs that you actually trust in. Think about the belief that 99.9% of the world population has: That the sun is going to rise every morning.

Think about that belief just now, question it.

The possibility of the sun rising tomorrow morning is extremely high, how do we determine this? We look to the past. It has always risen in the morning, there has never been one single day that the Sun has not risen at a specific times. These times have been recorded and we can trust in our past experience of the previous events. So because of the evidence we have no foundation to say that this belief is not true, obviously there are some people out there that may believe that the sun will not arise and they possible believe it. The difference is that this will be proved unfounded within 24 hours when it rises again.

However, when we question beliefs about ourselves and not external natural forces, we start to "˜pick holes' in our beliefs.

When I was younger, about 5 years old, I was told by significant people in my life, friend, teachers etc, that I wasn't really intelligent and I believed it. At the time I couldn't understand that this was correlated by an undiagnosed hearing impairment that appeared to reinforce this view point. I had difficulty hearing the teacher in class; Math, English etc, because I couldn't hear properly.

That carried on for another 10 years or so and I still believed that I was quite "˜thick' this was the phrase I used at the time and it's a phrase that I have never and would never use about myself or anyone else again, but the word represents how damaging the belief was. The reason I was so ready to believe this, was significant others in my life told me both verbally and non-verbally that I was "˜slow' which I had no understanding or bench mark on which to challenge it at the time.

When I reached about 14 years of age things changed, I questioned these beliefs I had. The reason for this inner challenge was that I had undertaken a History exam, which I was really interested in, and I achieved an "˜A'. This outcome made me question my beliefs about my intelligence as a whole. I then began to look for evidence, the legs of the table so to speak. I carried on to achieve good results in English, Maths, and my Geography exams. These were all clear external indications that the conditions of worth and labels that had been placed on me as a child were wrong. Hence I began to form other beliefs, that culminated in me believing that I was intelligent, and I had the audacity to apply to university. Now to apply to university I had to have some higher level Maths, Physics and Chemistry, and when I reflect back to high school I couldn't achieve even the most standard grade in any of these subjects. However, because I had changed my beliefs that I was intelligent and I believed I could pass these higher exams I went onto achieve all qualification required first time and this allowed me to secure a place on my Psychology Degree course which I graduated in 2000. This was one of my biggest achievements in life, purely because of my previous belief in my lack of ability.

It is through this experience that triggered my interest in belief and how they form our realty and worlds. This is an illustration on how challenging our belief, and changing them can change your reality in the future.

Todays Exercise

Yes, there is an exercise for today 🙂

Download todays worksheet here

I want you to look at one negative belief you have about yourself at present and start to question that particular belief. Present as many questions as possible to the belief, in order to truly explore the basis of your understanding and rationale.   Now turn the belief around and start to find evidence to the contrary.   For example:

I believe that I am not intelligent – question this belief thoroughly

Then turn it around and find evidence to prove that you are intelligent

I hope you found a particular belief that wasn't particularly positive for you and you were able to challenge it and begin the process of changing your beliefs for your inner good.

Every day from now on find more evidence to support your new belief and look at your new belief statements often.   It's not a one off event, it has to be done every day in order to install into your subconscious mind, which is how your original beliefs got in there to start with.

Now go on and use the same workseets to look at more of your beliefs and delete some of the ones you don't like or turn them around to prove the opposite of what you believe just now.

Installing a new belief

Using the same worksheet above I would like you to think of a belief you would like to have about yourself.

Now I'd like you to find evidence to support this new belief you'd like to install.   if you have never driven a car and try and install the belief that you are good at driving, it's not going to work as well as it could, so make it a belief you've had experience with.

Again, find evidence every day to support your new belief or simply state an affirmation, which we'll look at later on in the course, every day to make this belief a strong one.

That's it for this mammoth session today.


Tomorrow we will be chilling out a little bit 🙂   Until tomorrow my fellow Mind Alchemists"¦"¦..

Action follows a thought"¦

This course is about taking action, and to become pro active in changing your life.   Take time to do this exercise and really think about it throughout the day.  You don't need to wait until tomorrow to take steps to improve your "˜Wheel of Life', but with the support and encouragement from all the members we can help each other and support each other, but ultimately "˜you have to bring something to the table!'

Your thoughts

As always it's good to talk about your experiences and share it with the rest of the members of the course, so let us know how this exercise went for you and if you gained any insights or had any revelations about yourself or your life.

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About the author

Steven Aitchison

Steven Aitchison is the author of The Belief Principle and an online trainer teaching personal development and online business.  He is also the creator of this blog which has been running since August 2006.