Updated: Feb 4, 2022
If you are struggling to make lasting changes in your life or make choices that match your expectations, there are two places you could look. The first is your systems; consider looking at your beliefs if you still struggle to change.
beliefs form mental models, and mental models influence our behavior
A collection of beliefs form a mental model. Your mental models determine the choices you make and how you interpret reality.
For example, your beliefs about money come together to create your money persona (a specific form of a mental model) that we know shapes your financial behavior. This is true for other avenues as well.
Beliefs play a vital role in interpreting reality. They drastically change the personal stories that influence our formation of individual truths and our relationship with all of the four quadrants.
you are not always aware of your beliefs
Some beliefs are easy to spot because they come up in regular discussions. You probably know your beliefs around religion, political affiliation, and what makes a good friend.
Some beliefs can be challenging to pinpoint because they are hidden behind stories and cloudy thoughts. In Psychology, these beliefs are called "Iceberg" beliefs.
These beliefs can be: not investing in the stock market because you are afraid to lose your money, feeling sad because you do not believe you are enough, or not trying something because you believe you can't do it.
a lot of the beliefs you have come from how you were raised
You can first see that beliefs are molded through your childhood experience in the bible. Proverb 22:6 states, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old, he will not depart from it."
The "great" Greek philosopher Aristotle also stated, "give me the child until age seven, and I will show you the man." This fact has been known intuitively for a long time, but we have recently backed it with data.
Psychology has reinforced that your belief structure is formulated as you begin to understand language, which happens to be before you turned 7.
Some beliefs come from the media you consume
Many people are at the whim of social media algorithms and the news cycle because they have not created a media diet. In the same way we teach people to restrict their consumption of junk food, it is important to reduce your consumption of "toxic" media.
As we explored previously, The Fed's monetary policy is enough to change the behavior of citizens. Another tool they use to control our behaviors are the press conferences they hold. Based on whether the Fed appears dovish or hawkish is enough to swing the market.
Another obvious way to see how the media shapes our beliefs is to examine the marketing efforts of cosmetic companies in America. Many companies have made women believe that they are not enough, then provide their product as a solution to the very belief they created.
You can also examine the effect of social media on teenagers. Teenagers are at higher rates of depression and suicide due to comparing artificially curated lives with the real thing. This creates what experts have coined the expectation gap. They expect their lives to be a perfect reflection of the lives they see on their devices.
beliefs should be regularly examined
Beliefs should be regularly evaluated and swapped out, the same way we update our computers. I am not the only person that sees the importance of beliefs:
"Our Beliefs are like unquestioned commands, telling us how things are, what's possible and impossible and what we can and cannot do. They shape every action, every thought, and every feeling that we experience. As a result, changing our belief systems is central to making any real and lasting change in our lives." - Tony Robbins
This is because beliefs always win when the mind must choose between deeply seated beliefs and logic. If you can make the change you desire on a belief level, you increase your overall chances of success.
is the best way to change beliefs is to
We're all made up of stories. Life is one long narrative, and we're all trying to write the best chapters we can before "The End." The fact is we dig a deep hole for ourselves when we misconstrue our own story.
The story isn't the objective account of your day-to-day life. Instead, as psychiatrist and Harvard Medical School professor John Sharp said in his TEDx talk, "It's the story you've been telling yourself about who you are and how everything always plays out."
You can change those stories.
be aware of them
Be aware that these beliefs exist. Attempting to change them all at once is difficult, but note that they exist as they come up in your mind. When I am at this step in the process, I respond to my mind with "I hear you."
Perhaps one day, you can write down all of the beliefs that come to you at the moment. Seeing them written can be extremely helpful in attempting to change them.
As you take note of the beliefs your hold, reflect on how they play out in your actions. Explain in however much detail you feel is helpful to you.
separate from them
Can you see that these actions are based on what you have learned and are actually not a part of your anatomy? Can you see that right now based on simply being aware of this pattern in yourself gives you the power to avoid it?
declare something new, tell yourself a better lie
The stories and beliefs we hold are usually lies. Why not design a better lie? It can be anything you want, just be fair to yourself. When I have a thought that I believe comes from an old belief I usually say:
"This belief was based on my previous limited understanding of the world and myself, I now seek to replace it with something that represents my current understanding. I now believe (insert belief here)"