By Susan Lebby Spector -
What I want to share with you today is a conceptual tool, which if you choose to use it, is guaranteed to help you make your journey through life, an easier, more effective, and more fulfilling one!
I am talking about harnessing the Power of Belief. Learning to unleash your highest potential with the power of your own mind.
You may well ask, how can what you believe be so important? Simply put, what you believe, for better or worse, will determine how you act and what you feel.
Interestingly, in many cases our beliefs about ourselves and our world have never been subject to conscious scrutiny. Much of what we believe has been handed down to us. From birth onward, our parents, families, friends, teachers, clergy, media, etc., give us countless messages about who we are, what we can expect, what life is like. Unfortunately, as children, we are not in a position to evaluate the actual merit of what we are being told.
The famous developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget, demonstrated that children do not develop full adult cognitive capacity until around the age of 12. This means that much of what we hear up to that point slips under the radar screen of our critical judgment.
That would be fine if everything that you heard came from truly wise, sensitive and loving people, who had no baggage of their own and were always looking out for your best interests. But which of us has not experienced someone, perhaps many someones, well intentioned or not, telling us so-called truths about ourselves? Which of us was told we were, too stupid to learn, too small to get picked for the team, too lazy to achieve, too selfish to deserve, too plain to attract, too flawed to love? The killer is, that like little sponges, we absorb those beliefs into ourselves with toxic results.
Ask yourself this, if you truly believed you couldn’t possibly do something, how likely would you be to even TRY it? Not very likely, right?
On the other hand, if there was something you really wanted to do, be or have, and you knew you had unlimited resources and COULD NOT FAIL, is there anything that would STOP you from going after it? If you’re like most folks, the answer is a resounding “NO”!
The only difference between the first scenario and the second is your own belief about whether or not you can succeed.
Webster’s Dictionary’s first definition of the word belief is, “Acceptance of something as true”. Notice that it did not say that a belief was something that WAS true, but merely ACCEPTED as such. BIG DIFFERENCE! It means that a belief is not NECESSARILY a FACT.
So a belief is really just a type of thought, an opinion, a view. It may be accurate, but it may have nothing to do with reality or truth. And this is important: neither its popularity, nor the strength with which it is held, is proof that it is a fact.
Let’s look to history for an example. In the 1400′s and before, the prevailing belief was that the earth was flat. Everyone knew that. You didn’t see a whole lot of eager sailors pointing the masts straight for the horizon line. They would have had to have been crazy or suicidal to do so. Now there was a guy named Columbus who had a different set of beliefs. Since his did not include falling off the face of the earth, he was willing to make that awesome journey.
How about the story of Helen Keller? A young girl rendered deaf and blind by disease at a very early age. As she grew older, she became increasingly wild and unmanageable. Her adoring parents were in despair. Their choice? Put her in an institution, a particularly frightful alternative at that time in history or try to find someone who could make her more docile, like taming a wild animal. Capt. and Mrs. Keller BELIEVED that that was the most they could hope for from their terribly impaired daughter. They believed it would be CRUEL to expect any more from her. In desperation, they hired a young teacher to come live with them, hoping that she would be able to help control their child. Her name was Annie Sullivan. Luckily, Annie did not have the same set of limiting beliefs about young Helen.
Now you’ve probably heard of Helen Keller. But in case you haven’t, here’s a partial list of some of her accomplishments:
- She was the first blind and deaf person ever to graduate college. That was in 1904. And she graduated with high honors. From Radcliffe.
- She won the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964.
- She was elected to The National Women’s Hall of Fame.
- She is one of the hundred most important women of the twentieth century.
And in the book, The 100 Most Influential Women of All Time, she comes in #18 and Annie Sullivan comes in at #19.
When you’re telling yourself what you can’t possibly do, and you believe that, remind yourself of Helen and Annie.
Einstein said “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking which created them.”
Nobel Peace Prize winner, Anwar Sadat said “He who cannot change the very fabric of his thought will never be able to change reality, and will never, therefore, make any progress.”
What are these men telling us? They are telling us when we are stuck, when we feel up against it, on a societal or personal level, that we must be willing to expand our consciousness and challenge our assumptions and beliefs – even our most dearly held ones.
Now I’m not beginning to suggest what it is you should believe, but only pointing out that you do, in fact, have a choice in the matter.
So here’s the technique I promised you: When you’re feeling stagnant on the job, unfulfilled at home, unsure of your place in the Universe, take some time and ferret out the limiting belief or beliefs that are underlying those feelings. Write that down. Then ask yourself the following questions, and write down your answers.
1. Is what you’re telling yourself an indisputable fact? (It rarely is!)
2. How well does this belief serve you?
3. Is there some other belief that would serve you better and What is it?
4. What actions would you take if you adopted this new belief?
Then take those actions and watch yourself soar!
You know there is a tongue in cheek definition of insanity that says “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I’d like to propose a corollary to that, which says “Insanity is BELIEVING the same thing and expecting different results.
Belief is the mother of action! Choose yours wisely.
You can find out more on this topic by contacting the author, Susan Lebby Spector, Life Coach and Psychotherapist practicing in the Philadelphia area and serving clients in all English speaking locations via telephone coaching. She has over 30 years of experience in psychotherapy and over 8 years of experience in Life Coaching