When I was younger I had a series of beliefs which I wasn’t even aware I was referencing all the time. These beliefs influenced every decision I made and every interaction I had. Sometimes they kept me from harm but other times they led to conflict, all the while I was convinced my beliefs were correct. That was then though, now it’s a whole new ball game. If only I had learnt the following sooner, life would have been so much more enjoyable. Perhaps the following insight will help accelerate the change you’re after and lead the life you want.
A Brief History
American Psychologist George Miller in 1956 concluded that our conscious mind can only manage seven plus or minus two chunks of information at any given time. That’s to say that of all the external stimulus that we are presented with, we’ll only ever consciously be aware of between 5 to 9 pieces of these. Say for example as you are reading this you may notice the sounds of the voice in your head, the feeling inside you, the temperature where you are, the smell of your location, the ambient noise, the lighting, the feeling of the garments on your body. Most likely however, until those things are brought to your attention, they weren’t consciously being referenced. So what was going on inside your mind, that although present, not all of these pieces of information were in focus.
Dr Noam Chomsky in 1957 found that in order to create our own personal reality we use three processes to filter our environment. These three processes are: Deletion, Distortion and Generalisation.
Of course the reason our mind performs this behavior is to remove the feeling of overwhelm, and in so doing permitting us to function. However there is something so incredibly valuable in understanding this process that when grasped can alter our sense of reality. For if we are at every moment deleting, distorting and generalizing then an alternate reality must exist to that which we have formed. That is to say, nothing has meaning but the meaning we give to it.
These beliefs are the widest of generalisations and impact our total view on any given subject. For example if a person has had a seemingly bad run of intimate relationships they might conclude that; all men are…. , all women are… etc. Or in response to work, race, teams etc.
These beliefs are so powerful in nature because they engage the deletion, distortion and generalisation principles in such a manner that any other possibilities that may exist around this subject are completely filtered out.
The above examples may appear unresourceful to those who have an open mid, and there is truth in that, however to an individual that has formed this belief the truth looks quite different. In fact the global belief is actually resourcefully serving them unconsciously as they attempt to guard themselves from further hurt/disappointment/pain/heart ache etc. And in fact the beliefs, behaviors and attitudes that have generated the outcomes are able to consistently reproduce our experience until we begin to shift them.
One of the easiest examples to where we see global beliefs in action are at any sport arena on any given weekend. The idea of your team versing another conjures up a haze of emotions, an intensity that when presented with the opposition, despite the awareness that it’s only a game, has you deeply engrossed in defending your beliefs and challenging those around you.
For this reason, global beliefs stand firm in our minds until we begin noticing and accepting other, more resourceful, possibilities. These possibilities are where we find the road to improved outcomes.
Go ahead and ask yourself what do I believe about:
Work. Friends. Love. Others.
These beliefs are beliefs about our a sense of self, about who we are in a variety of contexts. A belief that is directly related to our sense of love for ourselves, our esteem, our relationship with ourselves. They are beliefs about who we think we are. They are preceded by the statement ‘I am’. And they are beliefs that an individual becomes so immersed within that whenever the notion of a contrary opinion is raised they take it extremely personally. In the above example of team sports the identity belief associated here is that of ‘I am a … [insert team here] supporter.’ In the space of banter between rivals people will become so impassioned in their defense that they forget that it’s only a game.
The principle applies to various (not exclusively) areas such as, careers, families or spiritual beliefs. They are about who we think we are in our world and when challenged we’ll defend them passionately. But when we are aware of what these truly are we can take ourselves less seriously and playfully accept that our identity and others have been subjected to much influence and shaping. We can be playful and willing to explore the unknown.
When we adopt this understanding and an individual or group challenges one of our identity beliefs we are able to remove ourselves from the emotion by understanding that they are in fact also expressing their identity beliefs or values.
If we are to change our results examining our beliefs is a good place to start. As we uncover the beliefs that sustain us or limit our experience, we can choose to create new beliefs that will deliver improved outcomes. For a simple, proven system that has assisted thousands of individuals to shift their focus and beliefs, download the resource below. Because we’re only ever one decision away from truly lasting change.