Biology of Belief
“I cannot envision a single thing that, when left unguarded, does us greater harm than our own mind.” Those dudes who wrote the Anguttara Nikaya certainly knew of what they spoke.
Enemy of our state to be sure or more so, mental state. Of course, Siddhārtha Gautama was no slouch either. He had it going on when he deliberated. “Men(not assigning any gender here) make distinctions in their minds and then believe them to be true.” Are you hip to what he’s saying here? That’s right; we create our own b.s. and then have the audacity actually to believe it.
Beliefs. Now there’s a big word. Small but big. We all have them, and yet most often we nonchalantly accept them without any mental fact check or discerning due diligence. “Yep, that’s what I believe.” Really? Based on what precisely?
Let’s be truthful for a moment. Our beliefs are a collection of ad-hoc mumble jumble from past experiences. More to the point, they are the assumptions and judgments we concluded as a result of those experiences, be they good or bad, right or wrong, truth or lie. Throw in a generous smattering of environmental input data from family, friends, school, media, etc. and you’ve got yourself your basic Belief Structure.
When first born, our minds are a clean blank slate, but quickly enough others haphazardly begin scribbling messages all over them. Most often transcribing from their own now exceedingly cluttered mental slate that others before them had randomly written upon in the same injudicious manner. And so on and so on it goes.
Any time a player is struggling, regardless of the sport, the first thing he or she does is get back to basics. Ground Zero. Square one. I am here to tell you that if meaningful, lasting change is what you desire in your life, then you too have to go back to square one. That means taking one of those big fluffy chalkboard erasers and wiping clean the slate or your mind so that you may start anew.
Let’s get one thing straight. Your subconscious mind is the one driving the bus not your conscious mind. Your subconscious directly influences your every action or inaction.
In case you have any doubts about that, think back on all those times you reassured yourself with intense determination and unwavering will power that starting tomorrow you were going to stop smoking or begin that new diet. In most cases, you know what happened. Within a short period of time, you’re wholly re-engaged in the same old negative behaviors you swore you would quit.
Will power can only do so much. Without changing the core beliefs rooted in our subconscious mind, no lasting change will ever be brought about. That’s just a fact jack.
There are many great resources out there to help you with discovering your Core Beliefs, and I would strongly encourage you to begin making a study of your mind. The simplest though goes as follows. Think of a young toddler of two of three. They are naturally inquisitive to the point of being annoying sometimes. Let’s call a spade a spade. But they also have a valuable lesson to teach.
Often, they begin by asking a completely benign question. Perhaps it’s, “Mommy, why do you go to work?” Mom, of course, cordially explains, “to make money dear.” You know what’s next. “Why?” the child responds. Again, the mother responds in kind only to be faced once more with the same line of questioning. “Why?” And there again after, “why?”
Unlock the Block
Herein lies the secret to bringing about lasting change in our lives. We must be like this young tot. Get categorical for a moment and break things down mentally. You don’t have to necessarily restrict your compartmentalization to the following, but they’re an excellent place to start.
Now you get to be just like that small impetuous child. Ask yourself, “What are some of the things that I believe about love?” Perhaps you believe that love is sweet and endearing. Then again, maybe you believe that love can really hurt sometimes. Take note of your answers and begin to write them down. You know the drill. Be that inquisitive child again. and ask yourself, “Why do I believe that about love?” Again make a note of your answers and begin round three. “Well then, why do I believe that?”
Soon enough you’ll get down to the nitty-gritty of the matter, brain matter that is, and discover some very enlightening things about yourself. Some beliefs will make sense to you while others you’ll view as totally invalid. Holdovers still lingering on from a bygone era in your life. Perhaps long ago a parental figure casually mentioned to you that “love hurts” or that “only greedy people have a lot of money.” As an impressionable young child, you may have unknowingly adopted these beliefs.
Now ask yourself. As an adult just how successful do you think you will be at earning a lot of money when unbeknownst to you, one of your deeply buried core beliefs is that “only greedy people have a lot of money.” Not very, I would hazard to guess.
By bringing our beliefs out into the light, we can more readily determine which are empowering and which are disempowering. Which ones are pushing and leading you toward your goals and which ones are holding you back?
Anthony Robbins used the analogy of a table to describe our Belief Structure better. Creating any meaningful change in our lives requires that we first knock the legs out from under the old table then and only then can we reconstruct new ones. As the Zen masters implored, ‘Be Master of Mind, not Mastered by Mind.”