Hiya! I hope you are dealing well with any procrastination issues you may have had in the past. A good book to help you in your quest is Dan Meredith’s ‘How to be F*cking Awesome’, which I will be reviewing this week. So, do keep an eye on the Reviews page. Belief Systems, is this week’s topic and the aim is to identify that beliefs are ingrained into our nervous systems, where they come from and learn how to identify debilitating beliefs so that we have a chance of eliminating them.
Tony Robbins, author of The Giant Within and international motivational speaker, is a master at telling you how belief systems are constructed. My husband and I attended a seminar 10 years ago and listened to Tony telling us that what we believe is what determine the actions we take in our lives. In other words, if you look at your life right now, it is a direct result of the decisions and actions that you have taken to get here. And these decisions were made based on the beliefs you held at the time.
I have read about people who choose to forgive the most heinous offences committed against them. It’s not martyrdom really, they simply believe that to free themselves of the burden that comes with holding a grudge, they have to forgive. Conversely, I have known people who hold onto beliefs such as that ‘It’s mum and dad’s fault that I’m in this mess because they sent me to the wrong school’. This belief can lead the person to making wrong choices because they believe that someone else must make things right hence they fail to take responsibility for themselves. The lesson is that every decision leads us down a certain path and there will be some consequences. So, what if you don’t make a decision? Sitting on the fence is really the same as making a bad decision.
Tony Robbins says people make decisions based on a desire to avoid pain OR a desire to gain pleasure. How does this work? Most of our beliefs are learned from our parents, guardians, teachers and the list goes on – from an early age. We learn to be cautious at just about everything we do from the time we learn how to walk, how to cross the road, how we approach our education (we learn to fear failure). Of course, these are good intentions because they help us avoid pain. But we also need to learn that being overly cautious can lead to inactivity and procrastination. Likewise, we are also motivated by the desire to gain pleasure. If you have ever experienced immense pleasure and at the same time something was happening. You will link that incident to pleasure – think Pablo’s dogs – every time he rang a bell, he’d give the dogs a treat. Now the dogs would simply begin to salivate each time they heard the bell ring. They knew that please comes after that bell has rung.
So, how is pain and pleasure linked to beliefs? Our desire to gain pleasure and avoid pain are wired into our nervous systems and what we believe to be the truth determine how we make our decisions. In order to change what’s not working, all we need to do is live a conscious life, ask questions and refuse to settle for the status quo.
I am always fascinated by Zig Ziglar’s ham story. Zig was a famous US motivational speaker and one day he began to notice that his wife would cut the ends of the ham before cooking it. He asked his wife why would she do that and she answered that her mother used to do it that way and that’s where she learned how to cook ham. Zig decided to put the same question to his mother in-law and the answer was just the same. She had learned to cut off the ends of the ham from her own mother. Zig’s grandmother in-law clarified the ham story as such: It was simple really. She cut off the ends in order that the ham would fit in her pot. So, there you are. The things we believe oftentimes do not make any sense but we fail to question why we do them and hence the behaviour is propagated, even if it does not serve us well.
Another story that shows just how we live our lives in semi-consciousness is that of a woman who told her friend that she’d had an unpleasant time in the bath because the drip in the tap made her back cold. Her friend asked why she was sitting directly under the cold tap and she answered that when she was young, she and her sibling used to share a bath and she always sat at the tap-end of the bath. And at that moment did she realise that she still did even though she was alone in the bath.
Often, we hold some very harmful beliefs about ourselves such as: we are not clever enough or interesting enough etc. All we need to do is to be aware of these beliefs and then put in place triggers or counter arguments that we can go to in order to vanquish these limiting beliefs. For instance, we can remember a specific time that we were none of the things we believe about ourselves; or if we think we are too old to do something, we can counter that by saying to ourselves, ‘My age brings experience and wisdom to the table’.
It’s always a good idea to keep a dairy and write these things down so that we can refer to them when we need to; and use them as mantras to bring about lasting change. After all, a life worth living is a life worth recording, right?
“The only thing that’s keeping you from getting what you want is the story you keep telling yourself.”