Biology of Belief
“I cannot envision a single thing that, when left unguarded, does us greater harm than our own mind.”
I have to say it. Those dudes who wrote the Anguttara Nikaya knew of what they spoke.
Enemy of the state to be sure. Or more to the point, our mental state. Of course, Siddhārtha Gautama was no slouch, either. He had it going on when he deliberated.
“People make distinctions in their own minds and then believe them to be true.”
Are you hip to what he’s saying here? That’s right; we create our own bullshit and then have the audacity 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 as fact without any mental due diligence or internal critical analysis.
“Yep, that’s what I believe.”
Oh Really? Based on what precisely?
Let’s be truthful for a moment. In a nutshell, our beliefs are just a collection of ad-hoc mumble-jumble assembled from experience. 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 questionable 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 slate. Soon enough, though, others begin haphazardly scribbling messages in a cacophonic symphony. Most often transcribing from their own now exceedingly cluttered mental slate. A slate that others before them had randomly written upon in the same injudicious manner. And so on and so on it goes.
When a player struggles, 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 here and now. Your subconscious mind is the one driving the bus, not your conscious mind. Your subconscious directly influences your every action or inaction.
Any doubts about that? Well, think about 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, you’re re-engaged wholly 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 come 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 method goes as follows. Think of a young toddler of two of three. They are naturally curious creatures, to the point of being occasionally annoying. But they do teach us a valuable lesson.
Often, they’ll begin by asking an utterly benign question. Perhaps it’s, “Mommy, why do you go to work?” Mom, of course, warmly explains, “to make money, dear.” You know what comes next. “Why?” the child inquires. Again, the mother responds politely. But the inquisition has only begun. “Why?” And then yet again, “why?”
Herein lies the secret to bringing about lasting change in our lives. We need to emulate those youngsters. Get down to the heart of our beliefs and reexamine them. Categorize them and pull them apart.
Ask yourself, why do I believe that? Don’t accept the first answer your mind gives at face value. Remember that child. Ask again. “Well then, why do I believe that?”
You don’t have to restrict yourself to the following necessarily, but they’re an excellent place to begin.
Unlock the Block
By getting down to the nitty-gritty of the matter, brain matter that is, you’ll discover some very enlightening things about yourself.
Some beliefs will still make sense to you, while others you’ll view as no longer valid. Holdovers, still lingering on from a bygone era in your life.
Anthony Robbins used the analogy of a table to describe our Belief Structures best. Creating any meaningful change in our lives requires that we first knock the legs out from under that old table. Then and only then can we reconstruct the new legs that will effect lasting change.
As the Zen masters implored, ‘Become the Master of your Mind, no longer Mastered by your Mind.”