First of all, we are humans and humans create beliefs. There is no such thing as being able to operate sans belief. It is a fine ideal to aspire to get beyond belief, but our psyche works through the formation of belief. So, as a starting point, let’s drop the thinking that we can get beyond belief, and trust that you will create beliefs.
Every belief is inherently limiting (including this one). Don’t spend time trying to get to a belief that isn’t limiting. Instead, the game to play is to notice what your current belief empowers you to create, and what it disempowers you from creating. Is your current belief one that empowers you? If so, great. If not, perhaps it’s time to create a new one.
We start with a set of beliefs. These are beliefs about what is appropriate and inappropriate. What is acceptable in a given situation, and what is not. The correct ways for men to behave, the correct ways for women to behave. The correct ways to speak about gender, to be around strangers, to eat at the dinner table, to ask for a raise, etc.
You’ve got a set of beliefs, rules, stories, guidelines, and whatever else you want to call them, and they dictate the appropriate way to act as a human being. How you came by those beliefs isn’t really the point. Although exploring that will seem like you’re making headway, it just wraps you back up into mental masturbation and keeps you from actually creating yourself as the person you want to be. For now, just trust that you came by these beliefs honestly. They were handed down to you by your parents, and formulated as you grew up, went out into the world, and learned how to be around people.
From Belief to Actions
From those beliefs, you take action. Put differently, you act in ways that are aligned with your beliefs.
Let’s work with the a rule about talking to a stranger on a bus, as an example. If you feel that it’s awkward and weird to talk to a stranger while sitting on a bus, you will 1. Avoid talking to strangers while sitting on a bus and 2. Be annoyed, awkward and uncomfortable when strangers on a bus talk to you.
You aren’t conscious that your belief is the reason you feel annoyed and awkward — you’ll hold that the problem is over there with the other person, or “just the way you are”.
But it’s not. There are other people just like you that don’t have this belief, and relish the opportunity to connect with another person, regardless of the circumstance. The only difference is your belief.
From Actions to the Environment
Your actions create a world, or environment, around you consistent with those actions. Because you act based on your beliefs, the environment you slowly but surely create is a reflection of those beliefs.
For example, if you don’t believe it’s okay to talk to strangers on the bus, you will tend to create friends that share that belief. Spending time with people that actively seek out and talk to strangers on the bus will feel uncomfortable and awkward, and so you will naturally filter these people out. Collectively, you and your friends will judge people that do weird things like stranger-talking, and will feel good in your shared belief.
You will seek out jobs that don’t involve a lot of cold calling (as this is similar to talking to strangers) and instead end up in a career that aligns with this belief.
Over time, you assert more and more of your beliefs in the world around you, via your actions, and end up with an environment that is perfectly consistent with the beliefs you hold.
From Environment to Belief
Finally, your environment now confirms and reinforces the beliefs you have. If someone was to tell you that it’s simply a belief that you shouldn’t talk to your strangers, you’ll be able to show them all kinds of evidence in your world that this is anything but a belief. You’ll point to how your career actually requires that you honour people’s private space and don’t interrupt them. You’ll point to how all your friends hold similar beliefs.
Your environment will provide you all manner of justification and evidence for your beliefs being something much more than simple beliefs. They are the reality of the world around you.
Consequently, changing a belief is much harder than simply having someone tell you “Hey, that’s just your disempowering story!” (Have you noticed how being told this doesn’t seem to magically transform you?)
What We Do with Beliefs
We want to get clear on the actions you take with your beliefs. Here are some of the things we do in relation to our beliefs:
Below are listed some of the common approaches we take with a belief like that, and how it would show up using the belief of “Money is Evil” as an example:
- Confirm them (“if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”)
– End up in a soulless job where you make a lot of money but do shitty things. Accept that this is simply the way it is
- Resist and react to them (do the opposite of them)
– Refuse to make money, keep yourself poor, but do good things
- Avoid the belief (structure your life so that you don’t have to confront it)
– Avoid having to do anything with money at all (For example, let your spouse be the one that makes money, handles money, etc.)
- Accommodate or compensate for the belief
– Accept that money will be evil, but that you need it, so earn a little bit of money, and do good deeds to make it alright
– Earn a medium amount of money (basically managing for the amount of evil you allow into your life)