You might think this an odd question, it’s certainly a complex one. We each hold many, many beliefs about the world, some of them may even contradict each other. This matters because the sole purpose of a belief is to be proved right. Beliefs act as filters that influence what we do, and do not notice.
Have you ever noticed that if you decide to move house all of a sudden there are for sale signs everywhere? Or if you’re interested in a particular kind of car that there are seemingly loads of them on the road. These are examples of our filters in action. Once we signify information as important, our system will bring relevant things to our attention in our environment.
So far, so good. Very useful. But what if the filter applied is not a beneficial one? For example, what if you run a belief that the world is hostile, or dangerous, or that people can’t be trusted? Regardless of the extent to which the belief is true, what will come to your attention is all the evidence to support the belief. The more you notice, the more the belief is re-inforced. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.
So what to do? It would make no sense to delude yourself that all is well when it is not. Nor can you kid yourself that things are black and white, there are no universals. Most people can be trusted, most of the time. Depending on your home and community circumstances, for most in the UK life is safe, and the environment neutral or benevolent.
Given there are no absolutes there is always going to be fertile ground for distortions that harm mental health, lives and relationships. Challenging the things you tell yourself is therefore important. Deliberately looking for the evidence to the contrary is essential. What are you not seeing? What else is there to notice?
In NLP we say ‘you move towards what you think about.’ It’s true. If you continually notice and react to adversity, it can be a painful way to live. There are other ways. There is another NLP saying I like; ‘the world is an abundant place and to think otherwise is to make it so.’ Through tough times this is an especially important tenet to hold open to. What are the possibilities for progress? What do you want to have happen? What small steps can you take in that direction?
Challenging your beliefs can be frightening. They are there, after all, to keep you safe. Stepping outside your comfort zone and being prepared to hear news of difference takes courage, and practice, but the benefits can be significant. Possibility thinking, where you focus on what may be possible rather than what might go wrong, can create significantly more energy, and a sense of freedom that can open you up to different qualities of relationship and life.
For support in getting to know more about the beliefs that unconsciously influence you in your life, and for ways of working with them to increase your sense of calm and happiness, psychotherapy with an outcome-oriented psychotherapist or coaching from an experienced NLP practitioner may be helpful.