What do you believe to be true about yourself, others, and the world?
How you will behave toward yourself, others, and the world.
Because your beliefs shape your attitudes and behaviors, which will drive your actions.
Beliefs – Where Is Your Truth?
Unlike the values you worked on in the previous step, which define your barometer for right and wrong, your beliefs are the things you hold as true, regardless of whether you have proof that supports them or not. Depending on your personality, character, upbringing, and many other factors, you may be more or less prone to having beliefs not supported by undeniable proof.
For example, some people believe that God created the world, while others do not. Some people believe that the Earth is flat, and others believe that aliens exist on other planets. As to God, we do not have proof, so the belief is based purely on faith. For the concept of alien life, we have scientific ideas that postulate that there should be life on other planets, but we don’t have yet any empirical way to prove it. Lastly, we have reliable and undeniable proof that Earth is not flat.
Now, your belief in any of these derives from your personality and character. Know that none of these beliefs has been ingrained into your DNA since birth. Your personality has been shaped as you grew up, and, of course, there are some characteristics particular to you that are derived from your ancestors’ genetic material.
But, by and large, beliefs are learned, observed, and practiced throughout life. Our belief system offers our minds a way to cope with our environment. Often, we need these beliefs as an anchor to our world. But, and herein lies the problem, many a time our beliefs either push us to do reckless things or prevent us from taking risks of any kind.
Beliefs drive us to choose which country to move to, which city to buy our house in, and which community we want to mingle with. Beliefs influence our friendships, the way we vote, what we say, and what we do. Because they are so prevalent in our lives, it’s particularly important to understand them.
Types of Beliefs
There are three dominant kinds of beliefs that we all as humans develop throughout our lives:
- Beliefs about ourselves.
- Beliefs about others.
- Beliefs about the world as a whole.
As we will see, each one of these has a straightforward, direct influence on our attitudes and behaviors. Understanding these beliefs, and combining them with the values we looked at in the previous step, will provide you with a solid base for understanding your character and personality. That will provide clarity on several things you’ve done in the past, and shine a light on how other people or events in your life have affected you, both mentally and emotionally.
1 Beliefs about yourself
The beliefs about ourselves tend to define our internal image about our own body, mind, emotional availability, capabilities, strength, and so on. The problem is that most of the time we do not root them in solid, undeniable proof. Most of the time, they’re not facts at all. They are merely thoughts. These thoughts linger inside your brain and either push you to do something, or hold you back. Here are some examples:
- “I am unlucky” / “I am lucky”
- “I am ugly” / “I am beautiful”
- “I am not worthy” / “I am worthy”
- “I don’t deserve this” / “I deserve this”
- “I’m not smart enough” / “I am smart”
- “I am not built for that” / “I am perfect for that”
- “I never had a chance” / “I had all the chances”
- “I never get any opportunities” / “There are endless possibilities”
- “I just don’t have what it takes to be an entrepreneur” / “I was born an entrepreneur”
- “I don’t write very well” / “My writing is great”
Now, is it possible that some of these are true? Yes, for sure. Think about the last one. Writing is a skill that you can develop. But if you keep running the “I don’t write very well” thought in your head and let it morph into “I am just not a writer,” you have transformed a simple observation of a fact that you could correct through learning and practice into a damning limiting belief.
Note the major difference between the beliefs on the left with a negative connotation (limiting beliefs), and the ones on the right with a positive connotation (empowering beliefs). Sadly, the limiting beliefs are much more likely to develop in our brains than the positive ones. That’s because a negative belief about yourself turns into an excuse against action, which keeps us in our comfort zone.
An empowering belief such as “My writing is great,” now leaves you with no excuses not to write. If your writing is great, write! But wait a minute; maybe I don’t write very well. Okay, then I should watch TV instead.
You see, limiting beliefs are beliefs about ourselves that often result in labels. “I can’t get to finish my tasks” becomes “I am a procrastinator.” “I don’t have a sense of fashion” becomes “I dress crappy.” Soon enough, you begin to identify yourself with those labels. You become the label.
Do this for long enough, and you will internalize these thoughts and allow them to slowly poison your subconscious. The more you keep telling something to your subconscious, the more it will listen. And then, when situations occur that seem to validate those thoughts, your subconscious will serve them to you in the form of excuses.
“I am ugly” -> I go to a club, and nobody wants to dance with me -> “You see, I knew I was ugly. Nobody wants me.”
“I can’t write well” -> I sent a manuscript out and got a terrible review -> “You see, I’m not a writer. I knew it.”
And so on. These limiting beliefs do nothing but create artificial walls in the path of your success. They keep you back from experiences. Remember: you are not your thoughts. Never have been and never will be.
2 Beliefs about others
We usually acquire our beliefs about others during our lifetime through learning and observation. The environments in which we grow up and the people we respect and look up to influence our opinions about other people. Over time, through personal experiences, you get to define your own beliefs or enforce the ones you already have.
For instance, if you get treated terribly in a hospital, you might develop a general idea that all doctors are bad. If it happens twice in your lifetime, it will become an undeniable belief. That’s an extreme case, but think about concepts such as politics and religion, or race and gender equality. People have many theories about others stemming from those concepts, and I don’t have to tell you the level of discord that this has created throughout our history.
By understanding where you stand in relation to other people, you can shift your mind into a place of tolerance that allows you to develop and function inside a society. It’s critical to see where you stand on the scale from cynical to trustful, because if your goals and aspirations depend on your relationships with people, not knowing that will set you up for failure.
3 Beliefs about the world as a whole
Last but not least, you also have a specific set of beliefs about the world. You might hear people saying, “Life is shit.” Or “Everything is terrible,” or “Life is full of possibilities.” How you view the world as a whole and the smaller world in which you live (your close community) will also define the things that you might or might not do.
By practicing to look at the world as a place full of possibilities, you will begin not only to free your mind from the prison of your negative views, but also start to be a promoter of the improvement of that world.
Much like the beliefs about yourself, if you focus your mind on negative beliefs about the world, soon you will only see proof for those. We call this confirmation bias. The more you think that the world is shit, the more you will see all the shit. Little by little, you’ll become blind to the beauty of our world. Soon, you will only look for shit, and guess what? Shit will come to you. Shifting these beliefs takes practice and time, but once you do it, the entire world will unfold differently for you.
Identifying Your Beliefs
The Belief System worksheet is divided into three boxes: (MYSELF, OTHERS, WORLD). Complete the answers in each of the boxes; feel free to give more than one and to elaborate. Use additional pages as needed.
Once you have the list completed, circle the items which you think represent limiting beliefs. At this point, you must open your mind and be introspective. You need self-awareness, and if you believe you are not there yet, you might share this with your most trusted friend or mentor and ask for guidance. Sometimes your thoughts don’t appear as limiting beliefs, because to see them as such you must have the self-awareness to distinguish the difference.
You may need to take a few days and sleep on it. But once you have identified a handful of limiting beliefs, use the next page for diving into them. You will have to write how this limiting belief has affected your life so far, and also a quick way in which you could re-frame it in your mind, so that it stops having those effects on you.
Once you are done with this third step of your voyage, head on to the next stop, Discover Your Strengths.
Feedback, Comments, Suggestions, Testimonials
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