It’s funny how our beliefs, no matter how farfetched, are really what shape both our behavior and our future. In fact, the word ‘belief’ is defined as: Something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction. Every day we are bombarded with information, real and false, but what makes this information so powerful is when it slips into our beliefs. Instantly we attach our lives to this wagon and begin to drag it around in life.
In our early years it’s not as bad. Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and so forth are easy tactics our parents used to keep us in line until those holidays passed. If you ever doubt the power of a belief system, try convincing a child that there are no monsters under the bed. Even though logic is present and facts are given, the imagination has already been loosed and until there is something new to believe, that child is going to be sleeping with you.
Such is the case when I was eight years old sitting at the lunch table. My good buddy Reggie sat next to me and was begging to trade his ham sandwich for my delicious peanut butter and jelly. Of course it was a hard sell from the start. That was until Reggie took advantage of a moment of weakness. I had bitten into the sandwich and spit out a small pit that came from one of the grapes used. He asked me if I knew what that was. I didn’t but he was more than willing to share with me it was a deadly ‘jelly-bug’. I had heard of jelly fish, but not jelly-bugs.
My friend went on to share that a jelly-bug was a poisonous bug that somehow gets into kids jelly and if eaten, can continue to grow inside your stomach. He claimed his mother warned him. After that, there was no hesitation to make the trade. For nearly a year, I was too afraid to eat jelly with my peanut butter. That means no jelly on toast, biscuits or anything! It took a lot of convincing from my mother that jelly-bugs were made up by Reggie and it was totally safe to eat. Talk about traumatic childhoods.
Of course you are laughing at me, but chances are you have spent some time in your life wrapped in the bondage of an unproductive belief system; I like to call it our personal B.S. Here are some things I’ve learned in life about us and our beliefs:
• Almost all beliefs are inherited, not discovered on your own: Go back in time and think of some things you’ve struggled with. Let me ask; where in the world did you get your information. It usually derives because someone mentions their own belief and you latch on or they have some type of authority over you and declare ‘this’ is what you will believe. Either way, you didn’t come up with it on your own. We live in a world governed by influence. From television to relationships, it’s all a play of influences. If you monitor ‘where’ your intel is coming from, you can then change ‘what’ the intel actually is.
• Most beliefs are simply someone’s ploy to control you: Reggie did a great job getting me to trade my sandwich. This makes me wonder who else in my past has taken advantage of me in the same way. See the games change, but the motive is usually the same. Someone wants what you have or want you under their control so they go about tricking you by influencing your beliefs in some way. It sounds terrible, but everyone does not have innocent motives. Bosses do it, roommates do it, police officers do it and even your mates do it. The fact is, most beliefs are simply glorified hearsay. You alone can choose, by investigating the situation, what and whom you believe.
• Your beliefs actually dictate your level of success: Limiting beliefs are the cause of failure far more than ability, skills or connections. How you believe directly affects how you will act. If you want to see some changes, you probably need a check-up from the neck up. We are taught what to think instead of how to think. Critical thinking skills are what drive corporate America and our military. Developing a staff filled with people who can sort out a problem and come to a plausible solution is like striking gold. To do this effectively we must address our faulty beliefs.
I am almost ashamed to admit that Reggie was not the last person to get over on me by affecting my beliefs. At least with him the only damage was eating a lot of peanut butter with no jelly. But think of how our beliefs have robbed us of so much more. Where could we be, what could we have accomplished if our beliefs weren’t contaminated? Now that you know what the issue is, my final question is simple; what belief will you let hold you back next?