It’s human nature to inadvertently develop habits. From biting your nails to tapping your toes, everyone has idiosyncrasies, for better and for worse. So, it follows that we also develop thought habits — or routine ways of thinking about ourselves and the world around us, some good and some bad. The problem, obviously, comes with the bad ones. Unhealthy thought habits cause us to perceive things in a twisted and often incorrect way. To change these detrimental ways of thinking, we must first acknowledge their roots: our unhealthy beliefs.
Unlike thoughts, which make themselves known via the mind’s inner-speak, our beliefs reign silent. Belief, in this context, is a conviction of the truth of a statement or the reality of a phenomenon. While we sometimes confuse the idea of a belief system with faith in god or the universe, the scope of our belief systems goes much further than our views of spirituality. Belief is not usually informed by thought, nor does it always require the use of logic or reason. Early on, our beliefs are reactionary. Consider:
Some individuals actually believe one race of people is superior to all others, and no matter how many rational arguments one throws at them to disprove their position, they will continue to believe this. Likewise, a child might grow up believing himself or herself unintelligent because of an abusive parent or teacher. Just as common, an attractive and gifted young woman might believe she’s fat, ugly and worthless because she doesn’t resemble a rail-thin fashion model.
Lucky for all of us, beliefs can change. Like everything else in life, they’re informed by your perception. That said, making the shift isn’t always easy.
While adopting a belief does not always require deep thought, changing it does. Deep-seated beliefs about who we are and how we function in the world shape the way we think so much that we don’t realize they’re the cause of the thoughts in the first place! But the thought/belief influence works both ways.
The way we think can shape what we believe – even if it’s forced at first. If we think deeply about our beliefs, we can begin to see them clearly and understand how they direct our thoughts and our lives. Combining this awareness with reflection, we can begin to replace the things that aren’t beneficial with healthier, more wholesome beliefs and thought patterns.
After all, just as beliefs lead to thoughts, thoughts lead to actions. Eventually, by using your thoughts to shift your beliefs, your behavior will change accordingly… and you will get the results you desire.
The next time you find yourself thinking “I can’t do that,” consider what makes you think that way. Is it that you believe yourself incapable? Well then, set out to prove yourself wrong! The little engine that climbed the hill despite seemingly insurmountable odds (and the doubt of all those around him) succeeded for a reason – because he thought he could! Had the little engine said instead “I think I can’t, I think I can’t!” the story would have ended very differently.
Changing your awareness happens only with dedication, hard work and the healthy belief that you can do it! The process of examining difficult thoughts, and aspects of one’s personality and life that might not be easy to face, requires a great deal of courage. But you can do it – if you think you can!
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