We all have beliefs.
I’m not referring here to spiritual, religious beliefs. I refer instead to the invisible beliefs we hold about the world, about who we are and about what we are capable of.
I’m referring to the truths we hold, sometimes consciously, but mostly out of consciousness, such as “I can’t sing”, or “I’m not beautiful”, or “People are amazing” or “If I set my mind to it, I can achieve anything”, or “I’m stupid”, or “Working hard brings rewards”.
Such beliefs are typically generalisations, typically unconscious patterns, meta to our experience. They can be enabling, or they can be limiting. They act as a post-hypnotic suggestion and they direct future behaviour to confirm them. They provide context, meaning, causation, structure and as such are irrefutable. We will deny their inaccuracy, even in the face of cognitive evidence. They are in effect our own personal rules of the world.
Take “Working hard brings rewards”. A generalisation, in that it assumes always. A generalisation in that it doesn’t define work, or how hard, or what rewards? But, someone believing this, will work hard, they will, in all likelihood, value the rewards that work brings and justify or explain those as being earned by the hard work. The ‘truth’ of the belief, or personal world rule, is both acted out now and assumed to be required in future – after all, its truth is without doubt, its cause and effect undeniable, its outcome inevitable – such is the nature of a belief.
Meanwhile, work that doesn’t bring rewards, or rewards unconnected with working hard, may be dismissed as of little note, or simply go unnoticed. The belief could be enabling, in that it provides motivation, the believer will doubtless work hard, will attain and will get rewards. It could also be limiting, in that the believer will probably give up leisure time, family time, time for self and may be pressured with a weight of reward earning responsibility, or may burn out over time.
So what do you believe? Do you know?
How do your beliefs enable you and how do they limit you?