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Your belief system and how it affects your confidence
In today’s show, we discus belief systems.
Namely, What is a belief system? How does it work? How are your decisions affected by it? And how can you make changes, so that your negative beliefs become powerful ones?
Your belief system, is a representation of how you experience everything that happens to you. It’s a simplified version of the world, that determines how you feel about things.
Unfortunately, these beliefs are necessarily very general and that causes a lot of the problems.
I’ll explain more in the Podcast. I’ll also give you some exercises, so you can discover yours and take steps to change them.
By the time you’ve finished, you’ll be in a position to debunk your negative thoughts and rep[lace them with empowering ones.
You can read the post that this episode was based on by CLICKING HERE.
You can download the worksheet, to help change your own beliefs, by CLICKING HERE.
If you have any questions, or comments, please leave them in the comments section below.
Podcast music: Is ‘Sweet Life’ by Twisterium.
Music Link: https://www.twisterium.com
Hello, and welcome to episode nine of the everyday confidence podcast, from the skillfulmind.com. I’m your host, Steve George. And today we’re gonna be talking a little bit about our belief system. And why it’s so important in building confidence.
Today, we’re gonna be covering three things. Number one, is what is our belief system and how did we decide what to believe in the first place? Second, we’ll go through how it stops us moving forward in our lives? And finally, how we can go about changing it.
So to start with, what is our belief system? Well, our belief system is really the story that we tell ourselves, to help explain our sense of reality. It’s a way of looking at the situations and experiences we have, and then interpreting those in a way that confirms the things we believe about the world, or ourselves, or indeed about other people. It’s basically our map of reality.
Now, in NLP neuro-linguistic programming, there is a mantra that’s quite often used. It says that the map is not the territory. Let’s give you an example of what that means. Imagine for a moment, that you’ve just moved to a new area. You’ve never been there before. You’ve no idea what to expect. So, you take yourself off to the local store and you buy yourself a map of the neighborhood. You go back home and you lay your map out on the dining room table. And you say to yourself something like, “Okay, so this is my neighborhood”. But clearly, that’s not your neighborhood. What that is, is a representation of your neighborhood. It’s a simplified version of the area that you live in, that helps you navigate your way around the area, with the minimum amount of effort.
Your belief system operates in exactly the same way. What your belief system is, is a map of your everyday existence. It’s not actually what the world is like. What it is, is an interpretation, or representation of the world, according to how you see it.
So it’s a simplified version of the world that helps you move through with a minimum of effort.
Now, you’ve probably got hundreds, or maybe even 1000s of different beliefs. They cover just about everything, for every situation you’ve come up against in your life. But, your core beliefs are very generalized. What I mean by generalized, is usually they start with some sort of collective word. Things like men, women, blacks, whites, everyone, no one, those sorts of things.
And then, you stitch on to the end of that, what I call, ‘no exception’ words. Things like always, never, every time, whenever, things like that.
And then finally, you attach a status to it. So you end up with something like… ‘All whites are racist’. ‘All Blacks are criminals’. ‘D ogs are dangerous’. ‘Men are arrogant’. ‘Women are emotional’. ‘Children are nothing but whiners’. Those sorts of things.
And as well as that, you also have general beliefs about yourself. Things like, ‘I always fail’. ‘Everyone hates me’. ‘I’m always messing up’. ‘I’ll never do this’. ‘This always happens to me’. ‘I never get it right’. ‘No one cares’. And things like that.
And everyone’s map is slightly different, but none of those maps are the world that you live in. They’re all simply representations.
Now because everyone’s map is slightly different, let’s say that there’s a mugging in the street, And there are 10 witnesses to the same mugging. Now, because each of those people has a slightly different map, chances are you’re going to get 10 different witness statements.
So to give you an example. Let’s imagine, that one of the questions was, “can you tell me how tall the criminal was”, and you might get nine of those people who say “oh 5’10” or, 5’11”. And then, there’s one person that says, “oh, he was 5’7”, 5’8″, maybe”. Now it’s likely, that that person has a belief that says, something along the lines of “short people are aggressive”.
And so, what they’ve seen, what they’ve experienced, has been interpreted through their belief system. To say, that because this person was aggressive, therefore, they were probably short.
Because our minds interpret what we see, here and experience. And then fit them with our beliefs. So, let me give you another example.
Imagine for a moment, that there’s a street. And in that street, in the middle of the day, two of the houses were broken into and got burgled.
It later transpires, that both of those homes are owned by single men. One of those men, has the belief that ‘strangers are not to be trusted’. And in the other home, there’s a man that believes, ‘everybody does the best that they can’.
So, in a week’s time, or a month’s time, which one of those two people do you think is going to be carrying on their life as normal? Which one do you think is going to be sitting at home with their new German Shepherd, fitting brand new locks to the windows? Which one of those two people, has an empowering belief? And which one has a restrictive belief?
So, how do we develop our beliefs in the first place? Well we develop our beliefs initially from people like our parents, the people that we’re surrounded by all the time.
The best example of that, are things like religion. For example, if you grew up in a Christian, or a Protestant, or a Jewish household, the chances are that you’ll grow up with those same beliefs. That also holds true generally speaking, for things like phobias. If you’ve got two parents who have a phobia of spiders, then there’s a good chance that you’ll grow up with a phobia of spiders as well.
The other thing that has quite a big influence obviously, is the culture. In Western cultures, you’ll probably find that things like Entrepreneurship are quite high up on the cultural belief ladder. Whereas if you look at places like Japan for instance, you might find that their highest beliefs are things like Honor. So, where you’re brought up has a big influence on what your beliefs might be.
And then these beliefs develop and become stronger. As we interpret our different experiences and situations that happen to us as we grow up. So what’s the problem then, with this belief structure when we’re trying to build something like confidence?
Well, all the time, we continue to interpret the experiences in the same way. And all the time we experience everything the same way, we always get the same results. So in order to change the result, we need to be able to change the way that we interpret our situations in the first place.
So, how can we go about changing things like that? Well, your mind takes everything that you see, everything that you hear, and everything that you do. And then it filters it all through your belief system. And the way it does that, is by asking different questions.
Everything that we experience is filed by asking questions.
And those questions. Generally speaking, are things like… “Why did they do that?” “Do I deserve this?” “Why does this always happen to me?”. You’re probably asking yourself now, “Is that true?” “Do I always ask those sorts of questions?” Which of course is another question.
So, if you have a belief, for example, that says “I’m not good enough”. And you’re asked to try something new. Your belief system is probably going to reply “Why bother, you know you’re only going to fail anyway”.
So the trick, is to try wherever possible, to ask a better question. Because if we develop new and better questions, then the answers we’re getting are going to be better as well.
So how exactly can we do that? Okay, let’s imagine that you have a belief that men are arrogant. I’m not saying that is your belief, but let’s just assume that that’s true.
So you’re driving home and a man pulls out in front of you at a junction. Your immediate reaction is probably going to be… “Wow he’s arrogant. Has he got no respect for anyone but himself?”
But, what if you had a different belief? What if your belief, was that ‘men are good drivers’. That ‘men are patient’? Then you’d probably choose to believe, that he’s in a hurry. Maybe there’s an emergency he has to deal with?, Or maybe something’s happened and he needs to get home quickly. Either of those examples could equally be true. It just depends on which one you choose to believe.
So I’ve got a couple of exercises for you to try. And you can download a free worksheet over on the podcast page.
So the first one, is to look for occasions where you’ve stopped short of doing, or trying something that you really want to do. I’m sure there have been many occasions where there’s been things, that you’ve wanted to try. But have stopped short of doing, for one reason or another.
And what I’d like you to do, is just take two or three of those to start with. Then, write down what those things are. And then, think about and write down the reason why you stopped short doing it.
Now it’s not going to be easy, because as we’ve said before, you believe that your map of the world is the true one. You believe that your map of the world is right. And so you’ll need to be honest with yourself.
So let’s give you a quick example. Let’s say, that you’ve always wanted to run a marathon for charity. But your whole life you’ve been a bit of a couch potato. So it’s been too hard and you’ve never actually tried.
Start by asking yourself a question like, “Why do I think is too hard?” And the answer you might get is, “Well, I’ve never really been one for exercise?” So you can ask, “Well, what’s stopping me from starting now?” And you might get the answer “I fail at everything, so why even bother?” And that answer, is the one that tells you what your negative belief is.
So, you can write that negative beliefs down.
The next thing to do, is to try to change that negative belief into an empowering one. And the way we do that, is by asking more questions.
So, you can ask for example… “Is that really true? Do I really fail at everything?” And then you can question that belief.
And if you think about it, at one point, you learn to walk. You learn to ride a bike. You got your first job. There are a whole pile of different experiences and different situations, in which you’ve been successful. So would it make sense to change that belief from… “I fail at everything” to something like… “If I’m committed and I do the work. I know I can get what I want”.
Once you’ve designed your new belief, you can add that to the sheet. Then go on to the next example.
The second thing you can do? During the day, when something happens that you’ve got an immediate reaction to, like we spoke about a few moments ago about the driving incident. Re-assess the incident and ask questions like… “Is my assumption really true?” “What else could it mean, could I possibly believe something else instead?”
Because remember, if we ask better questions we get better answers. And the thing about that, is you can do that for everything. Instead of asking things like “What happens if it goes wrong?” Why not ask yourself, “What happens if it goes right?”
Okay, so today you discovered what your belief system is. Also, some simple things you can do to change what you currently believe into beliefs that actually empower you. And therefore, move you forward to become the sort of person that you truly want to be. Also, that you do that by choosing to ask a better question.
That’s it for today’s show. As usual, you can find links and additional information together with the worksheet I mentioned earlier in the show notes That’s over at the skillfulmind.com/podcast009.
Until next time, don’t forget to take some sort of action every single day. Bye for now.
This transcript was generated by https://otter.ai