15 Mar Belief Shapes Our Reality
Have you ever been faced with a difficult task where you think you’re going to do terribly and then that very thing happens? Or have you ever had the utmost confidence that you will do well in something and then absolutely smash it?
Both of these scenarios are reinforced by the beliefs we allow ourselves to have. In my opinion, the belief we have in ourselves is the most important determining factor for success when faced with our very own mountains to conquer.
When we understand how the following process works, it’s possible to use it to create the reality we each desire. The beliefs we have in life dictate the decisions we make and the very actions we take. Therefore, the outcomes and results from those actions, shape our reality:
Beliefs → Decisions → Actions → Reality
It’s a fairly simple process when you look at it like that, but just being made aware of it can give you a huge advantage with any challenge you face.
I want to show you why this process is so important when setting new goals, examples of how our beliefs can both positively and negatively shape our reality, and how we can apply it to our own lives.
In 2010, BBC with the help of Harvard Psychologist, Ellen Langer, launched a documentary called The Young Ones. The documentary was set to recreate one of Langer’s famous studies from back in 1979.
The original week-long study included a group of 75-year-old men who were told that they were going on a retreat. The participants were all instructed not to bring any personal items dated after 1959, 20 years prior.
The environment that surrounded the participants was set for them to believe that they were back in 1959. During the week, they were instructed to engage in all types of conversations from that time period including current affairs, politics and sport, and they were given old newspapers and magazines.
Prior to the study, the participants went through a series of tests to record their physical strength, posture, eyesight and short-term memory. The researchers also took photos of the men and asked random people who weren’t involved in the study to guess their age.
After the retreat, all of the men were once again tested and photographed. This is when things got interesting – most of the men had improved in every category.
They were significantly more flexible, had better posture and even increased their hand strength. Their average eyesight improved and so did their short-term memory.
They even had noticeable differences to their physical appearance when a separate group of random people once again guessed their age, the men all looked on average three years younger!
Because everything was made for the participants to believe they were back in 1959, their body and mind physically changed to suit those beliefs. This was a radical study at the time and had a big effect on how the power of our mindset and beliefs shape our reality.
Have you ever been behind in a game but you and/or your team had such a strong belief that you were going to win and that very thing happened?
What about the opposite – have you ever had the lead in a game and thought that you and/or your team were playing above what you’re typically capable of and there’s no way you can keep this up, and you don’t?
Both of these scenarios stem from strong beliefs about what we think will happen. When a whole team embodies these types of beliefs, winning or losing streaks become quite common.
When the collective belief of the team becomes non-existent, they tend to let their current and past performance dictate their future outcomes and losing streaks entail. This can quickly spiral out of control, which in some cases can be impossible to get out of.
On the other hand, when teams embody the belief that as a unit they are capable of achieving greater heights and each individual puts the team above themselves, great things can happen. Their belief in what they’re doing and what they’re capable of achieving can create record winning streaks and in some cases, beat teams with much more talent.
When our minds are focused on achieving something and we have a genuine belief that it will happen, more often than not it will. When this type of belief is prevalent, our minds embody it and work to achieve the desired outcome at a subconscious level.
Have you ever experienced a moment where you were in the zone or in a pure state of flow, and your body just took over? Your mind stops thinking and your body just reacts exactly how it needed to with little to no thought?
These types of moments of absolute focus and clarity are a small glimpse of what our lives would be like if we had no limiting beliefs. Nothing telling us to be realistic, no negative thoughts, no outside opinions – just pure belief. Moments like those are the best indicator of what we’re truly capable of.
But what tends to happen is the time passes and we’re no longer in the zone. The “reality” of life creeps its way back into our minds along with the limiting beliefs and external opinions.
After these types of experiences, the thought of achieving great heights can actually scare us. Why? Because we tend to focus on how much work it would take to get there. This is called the Jonah Complex and is all too common.
It’s based upon the idea that the thought of what it would take to reach a certain level of success, the thought of sacrifice, scrutiny and fear of failing, actually prevent us from even trying. We allow ourselves to stay at the same level of everyone else and don’t dare to stand out above the crowd.
This was summed up perfectly in a quote you may have heard from Marianne Williamson, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, it is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
It is so easy to be conditioned to the harsh realities of life when that is what we’re constantly exposed to. We’re often told to be realistic, not to aim too high. But being “realistic” and setting small goals is a recipe for mediocrity.
Did you know that before Sir Edmund Hillary conquered Mt Everest (29,029ft), every scientist in the world believed that if a human being climbed above 28,000ft they would die? Do you think he let those opinions affect the belief he had in his own mind that it was possible to reach the summit?
Most limitations are self-imposed. The only real limitations we have are the ones we set upon ourselves. How do you think anything that was originally deemed impossible was achieved? Belief.
This was the exact type of belief Steve Jobs was famous for having, which his Apple team called his Reality Distortion Field. The term described his ability to convince himself and his workers to believe that they were capable of creating something that at the time was deemed impossible when there was zero evidence it could be done.
Imagine how different Apple or even the world would be if Jobs didn’t have this ability to create belief in himself and his team.
This type of belief is one of the most common traits found in people who have managed to create historical movements and followings that were much bigger than themselves.
Gandhi once said, “If I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
It doesn’t matter initially if you don’t know exactly how you’re going to achieve your goal, if you believe strongly enough, you will find a way.
Some people have the belief in life that what they’ve had in past and what they currently have, is all we will ever have in the future because they’re never been exposed to the idea that things can be better.
If we’re never exposed to this idea and don’t believe good things will happen to us in life, they won’t.
There are endless stories of individuals overcoming unheard of obstacles, horrific circumstances and upbringings, to triumph and achieve great heights. These people have an unshakable belief that they deserve more.
There might not have been anything to indicate and reinforce this belief but they knew one day things would be different. Some people have this type of belief in them naturally, but for the rest of us, we have to create it.
Our decisions and actions are all based upon our beliefs and end up shaping our reality. It’s not until we change our beliefs that things will actually be different for us in the future. We all have the ability to create our own reality.
When you’re faced with a difficult task or you have a desire to achieve something you’ve never done before – the level of belief you have in yourself is the best indicator of whether you will succeed or not.
We all have the capacity to positively reshape these beliefs. The key is to not seek reassurance from others, but instead create your own proof and convince yourself that it is possible.
Keep reinforcing the idea that you will achieve your goal. When doing this make sure it’s not spoken or written in a you “can” or you “want to” language, it has to be you WILL.
Do this for as long as it takes until it becomes a fact that it’s going to happen and nothing can shake that belief.
If you genuinely believe you can do something, you will find a way to make it happen. But if you don’t, you won’t even try.
If convincing the minds of 75-year-old men to believe it was 20 years earlier literally improves their physical abilities, imagine what you could achieve if you removed all of your limiting beliefs?
How do you think you would do if you approached every event in your life with a strong belief that you were always going to do well? I guarantee you it would have an amazing effect and could change your life.
I dare you to try it, whatever difficult task you face, force yourself to believe you will do well and see what happens. You don’t have to tell anyone and no one will know, what do you have to lose?
We all have the ability to achieve whatever we want in life, it doesn’t matter what it is or if someone tells us we’re not capable of doing it. All you need to do when setting out to achieve a difficult task is to, as Theodore Roosevelt once famously said, just “believe you can and you’re halfway there”.