Henjo Hoeksma
Henjo Hoeksma

The power of belief and mindset

Mindset and beliefs are closely tied together. I have been thinking and reading a bit about that lately and will try to summarize some of the lessons I deem valuable to remember at this point in my life. I hope it benefits you as well!

So this might be a little different type of post than I write normally, but since it is my blog I guess that's okay πŸ˜‰.

Enter the relationship of your beliefs and your mindset

Maybe you know the circle that is often discussed in the context of behaviour change: a thought leads to an emotion and an emotion in its turn leads to action. The actions will render a result. This result in turn will reinforce what you thought – bringing you back to the beginning of the circle.

But do your thoughts really come as a result of your actions? 

I recently came across a video of David Bayer who adds another step to this circle and it made a lot of sense to me. He defines the process as follows: what you believe translates itself into thoughts. Thoughts lead to emotion, emotion leads to action. Action leads to results which confirm your beliefs.

When watching this video I remembered Tony Robbins - and others - actually describe that same process including the 'beliefs' part.

What you belief regarding a certain aspect determines how you think, feel and act. When you think about it you can conclude that whatever you have or wherever you are right now is greatly influenced by what you believe.

I know some will say that wherever in life you are is a complete result of what you believe. For a great part I agree with that but also like to stay open for more influences that alter your course in life.

But it is true: if you have the intrinsic belief you are not worthy of being happy, chances are you are pretty depressed most of the time.

More than one spiritual text out there has something like "As a man beliefs in his heart, so is he" like the Bible puts it.

So where do our beliefs that drives us come from?

It is agreed upon by most psychologists and behavioural scientist: beliefs are imprinted in the first 7 years of your life. In this phase of your life your brain is in development at a different level than normally and we operate in different wavelengths (Alpha and Theta) than when we get older. These states are also known as the 'programming' state and are often reached when in meditation. 

It is amazing to realize that kids up to 7 primarily are in one of those meditative states and we can understand how their experiences in those years influence them throughout adulthood (I so wish I knew this before my kids were born!).

Kids model behaviour they see around them and attach meaning to events. These meanings turn into belief systems which brings us back to the circle of beliefs - thoughts - emotion - action - result - beliefs.

When you as a kid put on some fancy piece of clothing that you like and get mocked about it at school as being stupid or weird, what story will you create? Most likely a story that somehow you are not in sync with people around you, you are strange and you feel misunderstood and not loved. Whether you go with the crowd and dress like the rest or keep doing your own, chances are the way you look at yourself is colored by the story you tell will be kickstarting some unhealthy pattern.

Identifying the stories we told ourselves and how we came to believe what we did is crucial if we want to change.

Why would we rewrite our beliefs?

I think it is possible to rewrite the story we started believing, though it will require some effort (depending on how deep it is rooted and attached to other belief systems we created).

Now why would I want to do that? More often than not it is a form of pain or unhappiness that drives us to want to change the outcome we have been creating. We feel in a rut or feel stuck in life. We want to set a next step in our career but feel blocked by insecurity and uneasiness.

If we learn to embrace this uneasiness (which is a feeling coming from a thought which is inspired by what we believe) and unravel the story and beliefs around it, we can re-evaluate if what we have come te believe is helpful. And truth be told, we all have beliefs that are not helping us...

If you want to grow and enhance your quality in life, rewriting the belief system you carry is an undeniable reality. 

Honestly I don't want to only focus on 'negative' beliefs here. They can be great beliefs but still limiting us. Maybe they helped us in the past, but now it can be time to thank them and move on to higher grounds!

Adventurous steps to undertake ☺️

How can we rewrite our beliefs?

We can leverage several tools to help us in the process. In my experience when it comes to behaviour change it starts with realising that we must be gentle to ourselves and take small steps.

(For those who haven't seen Bill Murray's "What about Bob?" I highly recommend it!)

Often we are not aware of the need to change until the moment comes we experience pain, unease or turmoil in our life. And that's okay.

The first step to change our story is becoming aware of what our stories actually are. What are we believing? If you want to trigger a situation where you can start playing with it you can do the following exercise:

  • Pick an area in your life you would like improve (for example: a next step in your career, an intimate relationship with someone, have more money)
  • Without thinking about how to realise this, envision yourself in this improved state. How does it look like? How does it feel? Again - stay away from thinking about how to get there, not relevant for now and will block the process.
  • Now observe what happens in your head and in your body. There's a good chance all reasons start to pop up why this ideal will be impossible or too hard. Often accompanied by emotions of stress and fear. Don't worry - this is perfectly normal! When the "but I don't know how..." kicks in: just let if go...
  • Take it one step further now by analysing your thoughts and what beliefs are attached to that. For example when desiring for an intimate relationship maybe the thought pops up that says "my last relationship was a failure why would the next one work? This will never work". This of course is not an empowering thought but it might originate from a belief you are not worthy of love.
  • Once you figured out what beliefs are the foundation of your thoughts you can start questioning them: is it really the truth? Maybe it was in the past, but what about now? Since beliefs are stories we chose to belief (unconsciously for a great part) we can now move on to the next step, rewriting what you believe.
  • Now create a story that is helpful. Decide what you want to belief is true that is empowering (bringing you forward) and meditate on that, let that belief sync in. It is like the rewiring of your brain. Like downloading a new program or a software update. And when I say meditate: that is what I mean. Remember talking about the meditative state of kids? It's the programming phase. And we can literally reprogram our minds by forming new beliefs.

Yeah right, it just sounds simple...

I agree. And I think it is. But that doesn't mean it isn't hard! Simple things are the hardest to accomplish well and require practice. But why not practice on one area in your life and see if you can change it? The alternative might be staying stuck in where you are. Something of which I have come to belief is the worst we can do if we want to lead fulfilling lives 

I love to hear what you think on these matters although I realize this is a gigantic topic and I highlight some stuff here...

The video I was talking about you find here: https://youtu.be/KCIBQigXR8I