The word belief seems to engender a sense of some ordered hierarchy of truth. Well, beliefs are not necessarily “truth” at all. They are actually just specific neural patterns in the brain produced by thoughts that have been repeated so frequently they have become automatic. They do not exist because they are “the truth” but because they have been passed on and handed down for generations. They are there because someone put them there.
Now this has nothing to do with faith or religious views. This is about beliefs in the form of habitual thoughts, opinions, and attitudes about the world around you and especially your beliefs about you, your life, your circumstances, your potential, and your future. It’s been said that by age seventeen, we’ve heard the words “No, you can’t,” around 150,000 times and the words “Yes, you can,” about 5,000 times. That’s just the kind of perceptual influence that contributes to a powerful belief of “No, I can’t”.
Further polluting this toxic environment is the view that goals are simply hopes or wishes. But, whether recognized consciously or not, the underlying belief supporting hopes and wishes is that you know it will never happen. In fact, the biggest obstacle to successful change has nothing to do with external conditions. It’s an internal conviction based upon the belief that it is not possible; that it will never happen, or it can’t be done.
If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.
If you don’t believe it will happen, it’s guaranteed that it won’t. You cannot achieve a goal that you do not believe you can achieve, because those beliefs live in the part of the brain that is running the show. The fear, doubt, unbelief, and failure that plague people’s lives are not the problem, they are the symptom. They are the result and the fruit of seeds that have already been sown. The fruit will always match the seed and the seed is your habitual pattern of thought. It is your habits, not your desires or other conscious thoughts that dictate behavior and results. Setting goals is a function of the conscious mind. Reaching them is a function of the non-conscious mind.
AND THE QUESTION IS?
If the beliefs you presently hold are the cause of your current results, how do you change them and adopt new beliefs? We already know that it can’t be done with the short-term intervention of willpower, unless you just want to change things for a few minutes? It should be obvious by now that in order to change habits and beliefs, you must engage them where they reside, in the non-conscious mind. You can use your conscious mind to design the changes, but that’s not where they live and it’s not where the change is going to happen.
Retraining the non-conscious part of your personality paradigm involves two steps. First, as you’ve already done, you choose the thoughts you want to have as your beliefs. Next, you will systematically impress these thoughts on the non-conscious part of the brain. Choosing your thoughts is similar to selecting your meal from a menu. You explore the options, imagine the experience and place your order. You will have already begun imagining what the result will be, how you’ll feel when you get it, and what a great experience having it will be like. However, until you place the order, knowing that your request will be fulfilled, nothing has been accomplished except the expectation of a result.
The same rules apply to selecting a desired outcome from the “Soup” of the quantum buffet. You can explore the possibilities, select a desired outcome, and choose the thoughts associated with your expectation. But, don’t make the mistake of believing just because you’re thinking about it, it will happen; the thought has to be communicated to the fulfillment center. This is the difference between setting goals and achieving goals.
Setting goals (deciding what you want), is a conscious function. Receiving the desired outcome is a non-conscious function. Unless and until these two functions are fully integrated you will never achieve, receive or experience what you really, really want. Having the initial desire is a good start but it doesn’t deliver results. Understanding this process will help to reinforce the belief that allows you to receive because as you impress your desired outcome on the non-conscious delivery system as an implicit set of instructions to be fulfilled, you can transform that desire into a habit of thought – a belief.
Once that is accomplished, nothing can stop it from being created and delivered. So, for the moment, as best you can – simply remember: “You attract to your life whatever you give your energy, focus, and attention to, whether wanted or unwanted”. The Universe takes these thoughts as instructions and returns them to you in the form of experiences and things. This is all accomplished within the operating system of the non-conscious mind.
Surely you’ve recognized by now that the ability to change your experience is your responsibility and that you possess all of the innate attributes to accomplish this. I’m sure you also realize that this process is not dependent upon more information; simply the right information, in the right order, impressed upon the right area of the brain. At this point you will have initiated the process of change with your daily disciplines.
As you now know, having the information necessary to accomplish something is a critical part of the process of change. But, unless that information is applied, nothing different will happen and your outcomes will be the same as always. But, be encouraged. There’s still a little more for you to be aware of and understand, as we refine the final steps in the receiving department.
When you start examining the limiting beliefs and attitudes that are keeping you stuck where you are, the obstacles begin to disintegrate. When you acquire a new level of understanding the outer limits of your potential expand to encompass all of the possibilities and capabilities available to you. As you begin to pursue your goal you’ll experience spontaneous leaps in understanding and overall consciousness. But, you’ll also encounter something else; “RESISTANCE”.
To fully understand how and why this occurs, let’s take a brief peek at some critical functions designed into our brains that actually participate in this process. In a moment we’ll take a look at a concept called neuroplasticity. Prior to this discovery it was believed that the process of cell division that creates new brain cells (neurogenesis) slowed down early in life and stopped altogether by the time of adolescence.
The basic model of development looked something like this:
- Early wiring of crucial brain circuits active until around two-years of age
- During this time genetic heritage is fully incorporated into our brains
- This comprises 50% of the adult brain configuration
- The other 50% is composed of experiences and observations
From this point on we have held additional beliefs resulting in erroneous conclusions based upon the interpretation of some developmental facts. They look something like this:
- Children’s brains contain nerve cells called mirror neurons
- They help us mimic behaviors we observe in our environment
- Mimicking these behaviors and emotions creates our personality
- This includes behaviors, feelings, attitudes, beliefs, and thoughts
- As we age we behave and think the way we have been taught
- By adulthood we are hardwired to experience life through these filters
AND THEN ALONG CAME NEUROPLASTICITY
Aside from the discoveries that the earth revolved around the sun and was not flat, this discovery pretty much flipped our perception of reality upside down. It seems the new reality is that the process of neurogenesis does not stop at adolescence and that we are making new brain cells and new neural connections throughout our entire adult lives. So, no excuses here; no matter how old you are your brain is perfectly capable of creating entirely new neural pathways.
However, if you do nothing significant to alter the existing neural pathways you will continue to go through life with the same beliefs, attitudes, perspectives and patterns of thinking, resulting in exactly the same experiences. But the fact is that you can choose to override and rewrite your own genetic coding. We are all wired to grow our creativity, intelligence, and capacity for achievement throughout our entire lives. This concept is critical to the science of successful change but there are a couple of built-in failsafe devices we need to deal with.
Now it’s time to focus on the most critical elements of this design that can actually allow for the process of successful change to occur or stop it dead in its tracks. For a more detailed overview of these elements please refer to my article dealing with “Keeping a Winning Mind Set“.