What causes someone to persist when another would give up? What causes a person to focus and utilize all their resources towards a goal? What ultimately creates the difference between happiness and despair? The answer is beliefs.
I’ve tried a lot of crazy methods to improve my beliefs structure. Most of them didn’t work very well. Some of them were complete garbage. But in trying and failing to change my beliefs with all these methods, I slowly found the right system for changing my beliefs.
Changing beliefs isn’t easy. Despite what some authors and speakers tell you, deeply ingrained beliefs aren’t going to disappear with one magical technique or method. But if your happiness and success is important to you it can be done.
Hunt Them Down
How do you find beliefs to change in the first place. There are many beliefs that are so firmly rooted in your psyche that you wouldn’t even notice them. Why do you believe that if you sit on your chair it won’t collapse? Because of a belief that says your chair is stable.
There are many ways that you can begin the process of finding damaging beliefs. For myself the best way has always been reading and listening to material from successful people in that field. One of the greatest benefits of personal development content is that you subtly pick up on the belief structure of the person who is delivering it.
An even better way is to start associating with people that hold the beliefs you want. They may be difficult to find if the level of success you are seeking is rare, but if you do their belief structure will begin to point out flaws in your own.
My favorite way of finding beliefs is to do mental experiments. By far the easiest technique, I always ask myself, “What if I’m wrong?” What if I’m wrong that people don’t want to hear what I have to say? What if I’m wrong that I’ll do poorly at this? I’m constantly running mental experiments to test the foundations of my beliefs.
Often fear can keep you from finding negative beliefs. If you believe that you are unworthy of a relationship, this belief may be hard to get rid of. Why? Because then you would have to admit that for all the time in the past you could have been in a relationship if it wasn’t for such a stupid belief.
Let go. The past is the past, move to the now and find those beliefs that are holding you back.
Doubt begins to destroy beliefs. The first step in any effort to restructure your belief system must always begin here. If you don’t have any doubt for a belief, you can’t see it. You probably contain many empowering and damaging beliefs that you aren’t even aware of because you have no doubt for them.
I generally don’t consider my belief in gravity to be a belief, but a fact. That is because I have no doubt in gravity. I believe it exists so thoroughly that my conscious mind has never needed to quarrel with my subconscious over whether it is true.
If you are trying to rid yourself of a negative belief, then you already have a fair bit of doubt. The next step is to intensify that doubt to a point where the belief seems almost ridiculous. Because building doubt is the easiest step in this entire process, creating as much as possible is a good idea.
Let’s say your belief is that you aren’t attractive. You can start building doubt by finding all the moments in your life where this hasn’t been true. Chances are you can summon up moments in your life when people were interested in what you had to say or gave you a compliment.
This process of creating doubt is called finding opposing references. Enough of this and any belief will begin to loosen.
Another process I like to build doubt is to work through the problem logically. For example, let’s say my belief is that starting a business is riskier then having a job. This may or may not be true, both are beliefs. But I could begin to use logic to build doubt by reasoning that if my true passion lies in running a business then it is far riskier to take a job even if it may be financially stable.
This method of logically debugging beliefs won’t always work but I find that if you can apply it correctly it can build a huge amount of doubt. By combining this with referential methods of creating doubt you can move yourself to a point where you know cognitively that a belief is wrong or is very unlikely.
The process of building doubt shouldn’t be used to procrastinate for the next step. Building doubt doesn’t take long. Some beliefs will quickly look ridiculous and others you may still hold to strongly when you need to move on. If you are struggling to build doubt then you need to just move on to the next step of testing.
Have you ever had a belief that you knew was wrong but it still influenced your behavior? That happens when you build enough doubt consciously but your subconscious is still in favor of the old belief. The subconscious almost always wins in the battle of any behavior, so unless you can focus your willpower for the rest of your life, you need to convince the subconscious it is wrong.
To change your subconscious version of the belief you need to go out and actually test it. This is the difficult part. The subconscious mind doesn’t like it when you try to do things it believes are negative. It will likely fill you with fear at the thought of challenging it. Overcoming this internal urge can be very difficult.
The best way to tackle this problem is to do as much as you can. If you are too afraid to test out the full version of your belief, try a smaller version. As your belief starts to crumble you can go further and further until it completely removed.
This process takes time and it is the reason that changing your beliefs isn’t immediate. Confidence, courage and charisma can take a long time to build because the beliefs that prevent them take time to be demolished and new ones need to be formed in their place. Systematically pushing your belief structure will slowly remove them from your subconscious.
The only reason people can change their entire belief structure almost immediately is when they test a big belief all at once. This can be done through leverage, extreme willpower or force. But if you can’t swallow down your belief all at once you can still test it gradually to get the same result.
I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t try to test as much as your belief at once if you can. But sometimes people find they can’t test their belief all at once so they don’t break it down and test pieces of it. The larger the chunks you can test at once the faster the belief will be destroyed. But if you can’t take down a chunk, break it up and try again.
The process for improving your beliefs, finding, doubting then testing, may sound simple or crude, but it works. Shifting your beliefs to a more empowering state can be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. Take the time to do it properly and begin right now.