I was surfing the interwebs the other day and came across an interesting podcast. Some guy was talking about beliefs, and how they are really an interesting concept that, unfortunately, most people don’t give a second thought. They work as presuppositional filters on the reality that is outside our consciousness. The way they work is by separating out information that doesn’t match with what we think is true.
This is due to our evolutionary past. When we were in an area that was populated by red spotted tigers, our ancestors would quickly learn that they were dangerous. The brain was then programmed with a collection of information, sounds complex mathematical visual representations. If a red spotted tiger was detected by any one of our senses, it would automatically trigger a fight or flight induced panic, giving us the energy to run away. Conversely, when we lived in an environment which had a small green fruit that was extremely tasty and provided long term energy, that became important as well. So when our ancestors were out walking around and spotted one or a bunch of these out of the corner of their eyes, they immediately felt hungry and remembered how good these things taste.
Because humans can be so flexible and adaptable (arguably this is why we were the ones Mother Nature chose to give such big brains to,) we lived in several different environments. Because of this, we developed the capability of shifting the desirable and undesirable things in our environment for our brains to be on the lookout for. In one place and one generation, it might have been lions and purple fruits. In another place, and another generation, it might have been huge flying predators and small animals that were delicious.
So how does this affect you, and moreover, how can you profit from it? This is how beliefs work. Despite living in a modern society, where we have police to protect us from predators and grocery stores to provide us with all the food that we need, we still have these filtering mechanisms in our brains. These filtering mechanisms come into play when we have certain beliefs. The scary thing is, sometimes these beliefs can be self-sustaining. That is, if we believe a certain thing (even though it isn’t true) and see random events, which we take to be “proof” of these untrue beliefs, they reinforce the belief, making it harder to get rid of. Let’s say you believe that members of the opposite sex find you disgusting. You go through out your day, and because this belief has been programmed strong enough, you will only find evidence of it being true. Just like our cavemen ancestors only saw the purple fruits and ignored the rest, you will only register and remember the one odd fellow out of a hundred that behaves in a way that might be considered loathsome towards you. This of course reinforces the belief, which depressed you, changes your behavior, and actually invites behavior from others that reinforce this belief.
How about another example. You read the papers, watch the news, and decide the economy is in shambles. You go out, and only notice expensive things you can’t afford, people on the street begging for money, shops having going out of business sales, and so on. This reinforces this belief, and directly affects your ability to make money. What happens when you realize that even in a down economy, there are plenty of people making money? What do they believe about the economy? Many believe a down economy is the best time to start a new business venture, because you are getting in on the ground floor of future growth. Many people learn to see a down economy as an opportunity for wealth, rather than a scary situation.
The bottom line is you have two choices. You can choose to let your beliefs be set by others, and wander through life reacting to the world. Or you can sit down, spend a few hours, and choose powerful beliefs you would like to be true. For example, how would you feel if you believed you could easily make lots of money? How would it feel if you could easily persuade people to your way of thinking? How would it feel if you believed you were a highly talented writer, or musician, or actor? How would your life change for the better?
Although it does take effort, and time, the results are powerfully rewarding. You can either drift through life and hope to get lucky, or you can choose your beliefs, and go out and find (or make!) evidence of their truth. The longer you keep at this, the sooner the beliefs will start to sink in to an unconscious level, operating automatically.
This is where the magic really starts to happen.