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Working Out Your Beliefs - What's *Really* Driving You?

During this course, it's critical to look beneath the surface and discover what you're really believing because it's powering your thinking which is affecting your behaviour which is affecting your habits which is affecting your experiences which is affecting your life which is affecting your mentality which is re-affecting your behaviour and round and round and round you go. You can be sure that you have unhealthy beliefs if you feel like you're stuck in a vicious cycle.

Beliefs drastically alter your perspective which can have you applying dodgy thinking to problems or approaching the same dodgy route with what you believe is altered thinking.

When you evaluate your beliefs, you will discover that:

  • Some problems that you thought were problems are not problems.
  • All problems which you have blamed on there being something 'wrong' with you are misdiagnosed.
  • Some things that you think are OK are actually issues that are affecting the results in your life.
  • If you're going to make significant, progressive, positive changes in your life, it's not going to happen in a comfort zone of your thinking.
  • The same thinking that you entered into the issue with is not going to get you out of the issue but it will make it bigger.
  • The painful lessons in life stop coming when you address the belief and you learn the lesson.

You can have a whole new change of scenery when you address your beliefs which may actually be hobbling you at the starting gate without you even realising it.

 

Let's crunch down to what beliefs are in a nutshell and how they work.

Beliefs are statements that you have accepted as 'true'.

Many or even most of the beliefs that we rock up to in adulthood with haven't been sanity checked to ensure that they reflect our values but to also ensure that they are actually true and are not actually undermining us or even flat out unhealthy.

Treating a belief as fact when it's not actually a fact as in indisputably true is a rigid way of thinking that locks you into a cycle of denial, stubbornness, and repetitive unhealthy habits. If you have issues around being 'right' and admitting mistakes, you can be sure that you have unhealthy beliefs cluttering up your life.

Beliefs are very much affected by context and so will look true if you position yourself around a person or circumstances that speak to those beliefs, but will equally look untrue or certainly very questionable if you don't.

We are what we believe. When I say 'are' - our mentality is affected by our beliefs and our mentality affects our actions which means that if you have quiet beliefs that you may not even be aware of, you will find that what you say and even what you claim to consciously think about may be in direct contradiction with your actions. This is because a belief is really only as good as the thinking and actions that support it and if you didn't act in line with your beliefs, you'd have to change them which of course would mean you'd have to change your thinking and behaviour.

Some of these beliefs are like security blankets. It's quite easy to just go "Blah! I'm not good enough!" and then accept failure from the outset or even take up the position of victim.

Beliefs do a very good job of serving our purpose....and unhealthy beliefs serve poor purposes.

What life does is keep throwing us lessons until we heed them. The purpose of these lessons is to notify you that you need to adapt your thinking and behaviour. These lessons highlight where you need to strengthen or even introduce certain things. These lessons are an opportunity to break patterns of behaviour and thinking that you may have been unconsciously repeating in spite of the fact that they're not working for you. They say "KNOCK, KNOCK! I know you learned this stuff when you were a child and that your mother said X and your father did Y and yada yada yada, but you're going waaaaaaaaaay off track. Listen to yourself. Listen to life. Listen to your experiences."

Of course this is where a particular problem kicks in. If you have a disposition to blame you and to think poor things about yourself, when the lesson keeps coming back, you think that it's confirmation that you're not good enough. That's what you think the lesson is - life's way of communicating to you that every ugly thought, fear or doubt you've ever had is true. It's perceived as being some sort of 'message' from the universe and the more you're blinded to the true message, is the more authority you start to give people and even random things that may have shag all to do with you.

Prime example: Many people have romantic relationships with people who actually reflect their unhealthy beliefs. They may actually be like a physical manifestation of everything that they don't like about themselves. They cater to their beliefs and slot in with their pattern of thinking and behaviour. When the person starts acting in ways that confirm their beliefs or even says dodgy stuff, they get confirmation that the belief is true.

The thing is though, part of the reason why we engage with people who cater to our beliefs is because on some level, we quite frankly recognise that the belief is shite and is making us miserable but rather than address our beliefs, work on ourselves etc, we try to challenge the beliefs with someone who er... reflects the belief. Yeah, you read that right. We don't challenge our own beliefs with change; we attempt to challenge them by finding someone who reflects our unhealthy beliefs and then trying to get them to change whether it's passively, passive aggressively or even aggressively. When they don't, we feel bad about ourselves.

Now there may be very good reason for others to change their behaviour and thinking, but as you're the only person you can control, there's an even more compelling, critical reason for you to change your own behaviour and thinking.... out of your comfort zone of what you believe. If you're not recognising the unhealthy thinking and behaviour that would propel you into this situation, all you're doing is giving you more opportunities to feel the pain. Note, you may be doing this on purpose - it's a way of punishing yourself.

Here's the thing: If you've spent a lifetime or even a period of time thinking that you've been getting confirmation of your value, your lack of this and that, you're way off track because if that was the case, the lesson would have been learned and it would stop coming. In actual fact, these experiences are telling you that your thinking on this issue is not the appropriate lens.

You are viewing life through a low self-esteem lens and to be honest with you, most things look crap and your fault when you look through this one.

This is a self-fulfilling prophecy and the more that you dig your heels in, the further you plunge into this cycle of destructive thinking.

Never hold onto a belief that doesn't genuinely positively serve you.

It's also pivotal that you stop treating thoughts and feelings as facts when they're not because you're missing a crucial opportunity to sanity check and challenge them.

Thinking that you're not capable of something is not the same as being incapable of doing it. You'll know this if you've insisted you can't do something and then you have. Thinking that you won't be able to do something doesn't mean you won't be but if you agree with it then you're probably not even going to try. Likewise thinking that you can do something doesn't actually mean that you can, especially if the rule is that you can't. Eg. Trying to change people and trying to get them to make you the exception to their rule of dodgy behaviour.

 

Beliefs very much affect what you think you're capable of and anything that you believe or don't believe, even if you're talking about it in the general sense, is really telling you what you think your capabilities are in that context.

 

If you don't believe that relationships last it's because you don't believe that a relationship that you're in can last which will no doubt lead to other beliefs about why you would believe such a thing.

Every belief has an origin or a starting point - you got it from somewhere whether it was directly taught to you or a false conclusion based on an experience.

You may believe that you have to pussyfoot around people and people-please because it was the conclusion you drew when you were a child experiencing bullying but this is a belief that hasn't been challenged or adjusted with perspective, maturity and experience.

It's a bit like me subconsciously believing that it was my fault that my parents weren't together until I was 28 - ridiculous belief but one I'm not alone on. It was burdensome and affected how I saw myself and lots of other beliefs spun off it, not least because I then had a tendency to put myself into the centre of eff ups that had little or nothing to do with me.

Beliefs serve us. They can appear to have positive gains for us because they allow us to continue doing certain things within our comfort zones. It is important for you to identify what your comfort or should I say uncomfortable comfort zone is, because whatever your habits are is why you would stick with a belief that's not working for you. On the flip side of a comfort zone is change which involves making decisions and action.

Beliefs ensure that you don't have to do much and can keep playing that backing track of beliefs in your life that say stuff like "You know that you're no good", "You'll always be alone", "Who the hell will want you anyway when ________" and "You can never be wrong or you're failure."

What you're neglecting to evaluate is the true cost of these beliefs because you may experience short-term gains such as getting a high or avoiding other aspects of your life, but there are medium to long-term consequences such as being unhappy and being stuck and the price of the payoff is not worth the downside.

You also have to evaluate your beliefs because beliefs directly affect your values which is why you may feel a disconnect in your life where you say that certain values are important but then end up living outside of them. This also means that your boundaries are affected because what you're going to base your boundaries on is directly related to your beliefs but if you're not living in line with your own values, you're also busting your own boundaries. Beliefs affect action and if you don't get yourself aligned, you will be an inauthentic person whose actions and words don't match. Beliefs are also a prime source of bullshit in your life so if you have some that are surplus to requirements, it's time to can them because they are causing you to deny, rationalise, minimise, excuse, and assume which create big problems in your life. Beliefs also affect your trust which affects your values which affects your boundaries which affects your actions which can result in the miscommunication of certain things about you but can also cause you to lose sight of your internal compass. Beliefs affect what you think and do which is who you are and unless you want to be your worst thoughts, you need to address your worst thoughts.

You also have to realise, which is part of your journey here on Build Your Self-Esteem, that if you want others to see and know who you are, you need to do it first and you also can't expect people to believe and trust in you when you won't afford this to you first and stick with it. If you keep chopping and changing your beliefs about you whenever the wind, a person or the circumstances change, that means you have a conditional love / like of yourself which is why your self-esteem does not have the chance to build.

To dig further into and change your beliefs, use the Get Out Of Stuck - help with identifying and transforming your beliefs (downloads as a zip file which when you click on 'unpacks' contents which is several PDF files).

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