You Can't Change Your Beliefs

May 22, 2024

You can't just change your beliefs.

Wait, what, aren't you in the personal development world?

Isn't that what everyone is selling?

Yes, that's what a lot of people are selling. But really, is it working?

Have you chosen your beliefs? Or were they given by so-called evidence (or what you believed to be evidence?)

Why is it that we can tell a child that Santa Claus exists, but if we say the same thing to an adult, it does not work?

In fact, if I tell you that I give you a million dollars to believe in Santa Claus right now, you could do it. You could lie to me. But you couldn't just believe it to be true.

But as many of us know, our beliefs are creating the context for our life. If we don't believe something to be possible, we are very unlikely to try it out.

Let's say I told you it is possible for you to jump from a 15-meter bridge on concrete and not hurt yourself right now. The chances of you jumping are incredibly low. In fact, you wouldn't do it unless you planned on dying.

That is a useful function of your brain. It protects you from doing stupid things that can cost you your life.

But not all our beliefs are as functional as the one that jumping from a bridge onto concrete is harmful and life-threatening.

Many of our beliefs try to protect an illusionary sense of self that if it is threatened, nothing bad will happen. There is the fear of public speaking, getting a no, trying something new in business, going all in on an idea or asking this person we like for a date.

None of these things are necessarily dangerous for our survival, but we can have deep-rooted beliefs that make us act as if they were.

But back to changing or not changing our beliefs...

Simply saying, I don't believe it doesn't seem to be sufficient to get you into action. So what is?

What do we see with life so far? Have we ever changed our beliefs?

Absolutely. You don't believe in Santa Claus anymore.

But what led to this? And how can it be useful to maybe have a chance to influence your unhelpful beliefs (around money, performance, possibility, love, people, and the world)?

You had evidence to counter your beliefs.

One day, you heard people that you trusted to say something that challenged your beliefs, or you saw something (mum or dad placing the presents), or they told you (a person of authority you trusted), or one of your friends found out and you had to have the hard conversation.

If we create evidence or have sources we trust, we are way more likely to actually change a belief. In fact, simply saying it is almost guaranteed not to change your perception of the world unless your word means A TON to you, which, for most people, it doesn't. But that topic is for another conversation.

So if authority (you trust) or evidence is what leads to belief change, how can we use this?

Mentors, coaches and guides can be great sources.

Try new things, go into environments that don't share your views, and be conscious of your confirmation biases (your tendency to reject contrary beliefs).

Asking people if they see something you believe in that they don't think is true and really listening (being open) can also do wonders.

Just know this. It is very likely that you will not feel comfortable being challenged on your beliefs, and your reactions and triggers might be the best indicator of a belief that doesn't serve you.

I hope that helps.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

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