What You Believe Matters

Everything is possible for him who believes. Mark 9:23
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Of the biggest obstacles to finding and maintaining happiness on a daily basis, few are more substantial than the myths we belief about ourselves and our circumstances. The world – the media, those around us, family & friends – can often tell us lies that, for various reasons, we choose to believe. All of us were taught little myths as children (e.g. the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, etc.) that do very little harm. As teenagers, we learned new myths (e.g. everybody does it) that potentially put us at greater risk. Then, as adults, we have been taught additional myths (e.g. a degree guarantees a good job, it doesn’t matter what you believe so long as you’re sincere) that have longer reaching and potentially eternal consequences. Some myths have had little to no long term significance, while others have robbed you of peace and led to increased anxiety, guilt, shame, or worse. There are myths about God, money, sex, relationships, your past, and a host of others. Exploding these myths is foundational to reaching your potential.

To begin evaluating the myths you may have already accepted, there are a few points you must be aware of before you start making adjustments.

  • Your beliefs determine your behavior…attitudes precede actions, thoughts come before conduct. Belief determines action which determines results which start with belief.
    • Out of your heart (i.e. your mind), come the actions of your life; you become what you think; change your thoughts/mind and transform your life. One of the principles of cognitive-behavioral theories of change is that your beliefs determine your actions. This is true even when what you believe is wrong. Wrong perceptions of yourself, your surroundings, and others will directly influence how you behave.
  • You cannot blame others for what you believe…your beliefs are yours by choice.
    • Nobody forces you to believe something you do not want to believe. You are your own person in charge of your own attitudes and beliefs. You may not be fully aware that you’ve chosen them but you do choose what you will and will not believe. This means that you can also choose to change your beliefs when evidence is provided that challenges existing positions. Also, because you can and do choose your beliefs, you are also responsible for chosing your behavior. Thus, the two things you have absolute control over are your attitudes and your actions.
  • Your source of truth is at the root of your beliefs…the world has taught you to believe many  wrong things.
    • You base your beliefs on information, evidence, and more often than not, assumptions. And you should know by now what happens when you ass-u-me! The validity, veracity, and reliability of your source ultimately determines the accuracy of your beliefs. You’ve heard it said that perception is reality…your reality. Perception can be defined as whatever you believe to be true is true for you in a given circumstance. The problem is, perception is not always accurate or true. The influence of the world (i.e. your environment, self-thinking, authorities), with its ever-changing perspective and sandy foundation, directly impacts what you have chosen to believe about yourself and your future. What is your source of truth and your basis for what you believe about yourself, your surroundings, and other people? Here are just a few myths the world teaches:
      • Someone else is to blame for who, what, and where you are in life. (Um, nope, not even close. Take responsibility for who are and where you want to be.)
      • The world owes you happiness. (There seems to be a theme here…no chance. The world owes you nothing.)
      • There’s never a reason to feel guilty. (Guilt is conviction of wrong within your heart and there is such a thing as false guilt.)
      • Once you get what you want, you’ll be happy. (Not necessarily. You don’t deserve to be happy…but that doesn’t mean you can’t choose to be happy. We’ll talk more about the difference between happiness and joy later.)
  • Untrue beliefs can cause emotional unrest and steal your joy.
    • You can be asleep in the middle of the night, hear something go ‘bump,’ and immediately begin to feel anxiety and nervousness that increases your heartrate, makes you breath faster, and causes you to sweat. It doesn’t matter that the noise was only caused by the cat if you believe an intruder is in your house. The effect is the same. Just like the false guilt mentioned above. Did you know studies have consistently shown that 75% to 95% of the things people worry about, never happen? You may be stuck in a rut because you’re living your life based on a series of untrue beliefs about who you are and what you can accomplish.

Okay, so how do you shift? Well, there are two primary steps to making a change: a determination and a commitment.

  1. First, determine and decide that truth does exist. (This is the belief portion that must change first. You have to question your source so it may prove itself worthy.)
    • Now you know this intuitively, that truth does exist. You may not know why certain things are true but you know instinctively that they are (e.g. torturing 2-year olds for fun is wrong, rape is wrong, etc). Logically then, there must be a source for these truths and you must first make up your mind that this is true…there is a source for truth. Be willing to question what you use as the source of truth and as the basis for what you choose to believe. Is it reliable? Is it stable and unchanging? Is it valid and trustworthy? How do you know? What is going to serve as your North Star?
  2. Second, commit to living your life based on truth. (This is the resulting action of the shift in your attitude but it too, must be a conscious decision.)
    • Commit to seeking truth
    • Commit to believing the truth
    • Commit to living the truth
Remember, you control your attitudes and your actions. What you believe determines your action and your action determines your results but it all starts with what you believe. On the surface, this might seem relatively simple enough. But I’m sure you already know it isn’t. The noise and false information we are bombarded with every day makes this a challenge, not to mention the application side of things. So, maybe you have questions about this process and would like to see if it can really work for you. The best thing to do is to get in touch with me and we can begin to talk about it.
Live your potential
— Dave
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