After leaving a series of unfulfilling relationships, I finally decided (with a hard push from my shrink) to join a dating site. For years I had been resistant to the idea, making assumptions about what it entailed and the types of people I was likely to encounter. But, no surprise, I was wrong. It’s been a great way to meet people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. More importantly, it’s been a great way to learn about myself and my beliefs.
For the past few weeks I’ve been taking a hard look at my belief system: the collection of meanings I’ve decided are true about myself, others, and life in general. From “I don’t deserve to be with someone who treats me well” to “attractive men are more likely to leave me” I was left wondering why the f*ck I believed my beliefs. Where did they come from and why were they batshit crazy? But I had evidence! Surely that counted for something?!
The truth is that beliefs are self-fulfilling. Whatever you believe, good or bad, you will create because you want to be right. This is especially true in areas of our life that aren’t working. Unconsciously, we’d rather be right than be happy.
We think our beliefs are true based on “evidence.” The longer we believe it, the more evidence we find. As children with limited experience, information, or cognition, we create truths about the world and then build our lives around it. Our efforts to be right and confirm our beliefs come at any cost.
We do this in 3 ways:
- We unconsciously bring in people who prove we’re right, ignoring those who prove us wrong. Ex. If you believe you aren’t good enough, you’re more likely to listen to people who criticize you over those who compliment you.
- We interpret things in a way that confirms our belief. Ex. If you believe that you are unlovable you may interpret a friend canceling plans to mean she had something better to do.
- We act in a way that confirms our belief. Ex. If you believe people will abandon you, you push them away, ensuring it will come true.
Taking responsibility for your life means recognizing that your circumstances are based on your internal representations of yourself, others, and the world. Once you figure out your beliefs, you have the ability to make a choice rather than remain a victim of the world around you.
My challenge to you:
- Look at the aspects of your life that aren’t working (career, relationships, etc.)
- List the beliefs you have around yourself, others, and the world (Ex. “You have to be lucky to be successful,” “Other people have skills I don’t,” etc.)
- Observe how you find evidence of your belief in real-time (by attracting people who confirm it, interpreting situations, or acting accordingly)
Ultimately, results are based on how you think and act. If you want new results, you need to change your beliefs, find a new way to think, and be willing to adopt it as your new truth. It starts and ends with you.
What beliefs have you unconsciously tried to prove right? Share with the Community in the Comments section below!