How do our beliefs affect us?
How many things do we take for granted and consider as truths when in reality they only reveal one way among many others to see life? How many beliefs do we hold without being aware that they harm us more than they enable us and help us unfold? Today, I want to talk to you about "beliefs." Those deeply ingrained and powerful ideas that shape our lives and push us to make arbitrary and limited interpretations of reality, often without our conscious awareness.
Where do these deep convictions come from?
Beliefs are formed from everything we have been told and transmitted about life by our closest caregivers and our distant ancestors. They are also heavily influenced by the culture in which we grew up, the education we received, and the religious ideas that have been propagated to us.
As children, we unquestioningly accept what we are told and are shown about how life "should" be lived as undeniable truths. All the comments, suggestions, ideas, what we hear, and especially what we "see" our authority figures doing... all of these become the mental models through which we read and interpret our environment.
I would like to address some beliefs to illustrate how they are constructed.
I will provide three examples:
If, for instance, as a child, I witnessed my parents constantly complaining and lamenting, the derived belief might be:
"Being an adult is very difficult, boring, and complicated. I don't want to grow up and take on responsibilities."
As a consequence, we encounter many eternal adolescents who resist assuming their autonomy and become dependent on their parents. Being an adult means being autonomous, with all that it entails, "not just pretending to be one." The comforts that young people enjoy today do not compensate in any way for the satisfaction of testing their own abilities and resources. That's why we see young people who seemingly "have it all" but still feel unsatisfied with their lives.
If you are a parent, I encourage you to reflect... What do you show your children about what it means to be an adult? If they perceive that being an adult is about complaining, constantly rushing, not having time, feeling physical discomfort, always having a problem, money never being enough, and duty always taking precedence over pleasure... Who would want to leave behind childhood or adolescence? I'm not saying that being an adult doesn't involve these aspects, they might indeed exist... but not always, not in every case, and not exclusively. Being an adult also means having the ability to choose, having autonomy, freedom of action, decision-making capacity, and personal fulfillment. It does not mean becoming serious and bitter, nor does it mean ceasing to play and have fun. Being childish is not about laughing or doing "silly" things, but rather about not assuming one's own responsibilities and one's own life. Let's not confuse the two.
It is essential that as parents, we encourage our children to embrace adulthood with enthusiasm and show them through our own behavior that being an adult is a positive value and a dignified way to position ourselves in life.
Another example could be if I have seen my mother constantly criticize my father, complain, and suffer in the relationship. The belief that will develop is:
"Men are meant to make you suffer, and they are all the same."
A belief always unconsciously seeks confirmation. With this conviction, I will go out into the world and "attract" all the men who resonate with my mental program about the male gender. Innocently, we think that we choose our partners when, in reality, we are repeating and embodying our unconscious beliefs.
If you are a mother and resonate with this example, avoid transmitting your own frustrations to your daughters. Personal experiences in no way represent an accurate reflection of reality. Encouraging our daughters to experience love, to feel worthy of being loved, and to trust men is an act of genuine affection. There are mothers who prioritize "being right" and confirming their beliefs over seeing their daughters happy.
Lastly, if as a child, I experienced feelings of rejection, feeling like a burden, or making my parents uncomfortable and overly conditional. If I have heard phrases like "I have done this or that for you, sacrificed everything for my children, dedicated my life to you." It is possible that the belief will be formed:
"Motherhood and fatherhood are a problem, a complication, or a personal resignation."
Many cases of infertility today are rooted in deep-seated beliefs about what we have concluded about the idea of being a mother or father and what a child represents. Thus, consciously one may "want to have children," but our unconscious obeys not our expectations but the mental programs deeply rooted within us. It is essential to note that our lives are primarily governed by our unconscious minds, about 99% of the time. In these cases, infertility becomes a subconscious form of protection. Working on our beliefs means letting go of the threats associated with the idea of having a "child." If there is no longer any risk, the unconscious will no longer protect us from what we consciously desire: having children.
Every day, I see men and women who postpone parenthood, who do not see it as a profound desire, and who refuse this project. I don't mean to imply that "having children" is an inevitable step in life. However, I advise each person to honestly question themselves. It is the responsibility of each individual, as an adult, to differentiate whether the intention of "not having children" (to continue with this example) is based on a clear life decision and projects that are incompatible with that role, or if it is rooted in an unconscious "avoidance" of not repeating familiar parenting patterns. If it is the latter, it will be vital to question our beliefs and, as a result, recognize that there are as many ways to be parents as there are born children. It is up to each individual to find their own way that works best for them and brings them happiness.
As parents, we must be aware of what we are transmitting to our children about what it means to be a "parent." Let us remember that, for children, what matters most is what they see and experience in everyday life, rather than what we tell them in moments of reflection. Being parents is not just about "taking care of" and "running after our children." It is also about nourishing ourselves from the deepest experience of love known to us (this is my personal opinion). It is about experiencing the most beautiful moments and creating wonderful memories.
We give so much to our children, we do so much for them. But we must acknowledge that without a doubt, it is our children who give us the most. So, self-sacrificing mothers and fathers, let's smile twice as much as we complain... "our children are our teachers."
More Beliefs that You Likely Resonate With...
"Life is hard." "You can't trust anyone." "Your mind won't be able to handle studying." "Whenever something good happens, something worse follows." "You will earn your bread by the sweat of your brow." "Effort is dignifying." "Money corrupts." "Thinking of oneself is selfish."
"Seeing is believing"? No: Believing is seeing.
Beliefs reinforce themselves in an exhausting vicious circle:
From beliefs, thoughts are derived that trigger certain emotions. These emotions lead me to live certain experiences. What we conclude from those experiences tends to reinforce the original beliefs.
That's how it works, that's how we function... We confirm in the external world what we consider to be true in our internal world. What we perceive is not reality but the projection of our beliefs. All the information we have inherited (beliefs) causes us to perceive a world that is very different from that of other people, and this determines an emotional state that feeds back into us.
This emotional state, in turn, stimulates our perception, and we find ourselves in a kind of dead-end. We fail to realize that our way of perceiving determines the perceived events and that the events react to our perception.
- If I think life is difficult and complicated, I will be attentive to all those signals that confirm the obstacles of an anticipatedly cumbersome life.
- If I think I can't trust anyone, I will only highlight those experiences in which my trust was betrayed and overlook the many times (most times!) when it didn't happen.
- If I have a prejudice about a person, I will only see that trait in them that I want to confirm.
The mind possesses a mechanism called "Selective Filtering" or "Selective Attention." This is the basic function for sustaining and confirming our beliefs. So, we see what we want to see. Our perceptions are completely conditioned and biased.
Let's look at everyday and simple examples of how this "filter" works:
"If one day you decide to change your car to brand X, you will surely go out on the street and see X cars everywhere you look." Are there more X cars than Z, H, or Y? No, your attention is focused on X."
"If you are trying to conceive a baby and you are not yet pregnant, you will see pregnant bellies everywhere and hear about one pregnancy after another." Did the birth rate suddenly increase? No, your attention is now focused there."
Our experiences respond to our unconscious beliefs. If we want to change our experiences, we must first change our beliefs. This is possible only if we are willing to work on ourselves and question what we have taken for truth until now.
There are harmless beliefs that won't bring us great complications, and there are also healthy beliefs that are good to continue holding.
But... what do we do with those beliefs that limit us, postpone us, and generate suffering?
Changing the way we perceive our universe is becoming aware of how we are seeing it. That is, taking what we take for granted, relativizing our truths, and starting to contemplate possibilities where we are accustomed to seeing certainties. We have the feeling that we "choose" when in reality, we are simply repeating inherited unconscious patterns, and as long as there is automatism, there is no creative choice.
Becoming aware of our beliefs is the step to choose them or un-choose them. Giving this verb a reversible possibility gives us margins of freedom to manage the life we want from the beliefs that we find healthy to hold onto and leave behind the beliefs that paralyze us, make us sick, and stagnate us in life.
Working on ourselves facilitates the awareness of the beliefs that we hold without consciously choosing them. It enables a reevaluation and updating of our mental models, and from there, the choice of behaviors that are congruent and coherent with the beliefs we want to build for our lives. Exercising an active and leading role in managing our personal script is what enables creation and freedom of choice.
Those beliefs, conditioning, and automatic programs we have inherited move us like "puppets" of destiny... and we tend to think that we have bad luck, that it was a coincidence, that it's our karma, that it happened to us again. However, far from being so, our external reality is only the projection and manifestation of what resides within us.
This truth can be uncomfortable for those who want to continue feeling like victims of circumstances.
Working on our beliefs means deactivating mental programs that lead us to repeat the same experiences over and over. We must keep in mind that "Believing is Creating."
What if we renew the lenses through which we see?
When we become aware of this, we feel that it is in our hands to do something with what happens to us and what we feel. "The truth" becomes "my truth," and from there, we can understand that there are other ways to perceive reality. We can only choose when there are options, and options become visible when we become aware.
"A belief is not just an idea that the mind possesses; it is an idea that possesses the mind." - Rober Bolt.