We all carry unconscious beliefs about ourselves and the world. These beliefs originated in childhood when our brains were developing. A child’s brain is like a sponge, absorbing every experience, creating beliefs about the world and the self.
For example, say as a child you were told that bad things happen all the time and that you should be afraid that whenever something good happens, something bad is on its way. That information was recorded in your developing brain. As you grew up your choices were colored by this belief. You may have experienced fear and anxiety every time something good happened, expecting the worst to follow.
This belief was reinforced any time something you deemed as bad happened after something good, even though they were probably unrelated. You likely don’t even remember acquiring this belief, but it has impacted the direction of your life nonetheless.
This is how beliefs affect resilience. If we expect bad things to be looming all the time we don’t recover and move forward from difficult experiences because we can’t stop worrying about the next bad thing. Our brains become our own worst enemies, playing the constant “What if” game.
How do we get out of that cycle? First we have to become aware of the beliefs themselves. They are not always obvious, we may consciously believe something that is in conflict with our unconscious beliefs. This brings about mental conflict and a feeling that things don’t work out no matter how we try. We are actually work against our own interests without realizing it.
It helps to choose something you struggle with, and really explore your beliefs around that issue. Ask yourself why you believe what you do and think about how your parents dealt with it. Look for patterns in your family, do you handle the issue the same as your parents, or did you go polar opposite? Beliefs cause unconscious reactions, we have to bring them into our consciousness for analysis to really change them.
Ask for advice. If you get really nervous about money and struggle with having enough, talk to someone who you think does well with money. Ask them about their beliefs and choices, ask how money was handled in their family growing up. This will help you to see different perspectives and begin to understand what your beliefs are.
Once you have identified the problematic beliefs and where they came from make a conscious choice to change them. This takes time and practice. When you catch your thoughts repeating the old fears, simply stop yourself and express your new belief. For example: You catch yourself thinking about how you never have enough money, stop yourself, and choose to think I always have enough. You are creating a new habit in your thinking which will shift the belief over time.
Be gentle with yourself. Changing your beliefs takes time and you will revert to your old patterns when under stress. Over time your thinking pattern will change, be persistent.
I went deeper with this topic on Kindred Spirits.
Watch the show here!