We hear it all too often: examine your beliefs and then choose a better one! If you believe it you can achieve it! When your belief is behind your actions, anything is possible!
So just change them!
Well, have you changed them yet?
…no? Oh, but you just have to change them, it’s so simple.
It's not that simple. Changing and upgrading what we believe in and what we can have faith is not an instant thing. But it is possible, and I'd like to share one way it can happen.
To start, consider the style and sequence of worrying for most human beings. We start by wondering about a vague possibility, perhaps some way something can go poorly that we had not thought of before Then as we focus on that possibility, we start to respond emotionally. We get worried, scared, and start to think of the vague possibility more. “What if owls attacked people? Oo, that's a scary thought!”
As we continue to focus on it, our emotional reaction grows and the thought becomes more concrete. When before it may have been merely a vague possibility, a what if, it is now becoming a definite possibility. “This might happen, just watch out for the owls that attack people ok?”
As we keep thinking about attacking owls or whatever it is that has captured our imagination, the possibility turns into a probability. “I'm fairly sure there are owls that attack people and I think its important to keep an eye out for these dangerous owls.”
The idea that getting attacked by an owl is now not only possible but probable stimulates yet more of an emotional reaction (I'm guessing fear as I wouldn't be the biggest fan of getting attacked either).
So finally, if we have continued this hypnotic focus on what was once a vague possibility, we arrive at a crystallized belief. “Owls attack people and we have to watch out! Stay away from outdoors, and always carry a reinforced umbrella such as the Owls Away 2000, just in case!”
Hopefully nobody is that terrified of owls, but this is emblematic of what we do all the time. We think of all the ways things can go wrong, overanalyze everything and try to protect ourselves in advance against scenarios that may not actually be happening or have not happened yet.
Thankfully, we can do this consciously in any direction we want. So, how to change a belief, you ask?
Well, the longer answer is substantial self reflection and feedback from those around you to uncover what you believe in the first place. But sometimes one can simply jump to developing a new belief.
We develop new beliefs the same way we make worries and negative possibilities more real for ourselves. Don't start by making a statement that is totally out of the realm of possibility from your perspective. Start by considering a what if.
What if I had my dream job? What would that look like? What would that be like? Oh, I like how that feels!
What if I had a great relationship? Who would that person be? What would we be like together? What would I be like with that person?
Its just a possibility here. Just a what if.
But if we keep considering a possibility, it can slowly build as we flesh out what that possibility looks like, sounds like, feels like. I would suggest ideas that excite, inspire, stimulate, even as doubts creep in. Just remember, its only a what if! But bit by bit, maybe it becomes a maybe. “Maybe I could have a great relationship...”
And just like worrying about owls or whatever it is you tend to fixate on, the possibility can become more concrete and real as it is considered for longer periods of time. As the inspiration or excitement or interest in the possibility builds, it can become probable. “I think I could have a great relationship. I certainly deserve one!”
So bit by bit a new belief is created. A what if is thought of and imagined out, never forcing yourself to believe in it. As the possibility inspires emotions and becomes more fleshed out, it becomes ever more real in our mind. Naturally, it will become ever more possible until a new belief is created.
So the next time you catch yourself worrying about negative what ifs, pause a moment and wonder, what if something positive happened?
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