When I was in graduate school, I conducted a research project on the topic of ‘differences of perceptions among established relationships.’ I asked questions like, “do people that know each other really well perceive each other as the same as each other perceived themself? It was a weird and new concept for me to learn about and study. I didn’t have a strong background in psychology, had never conducted a research project before, and thought that the topic would be interesting.
I would read more about philosophy, history, religion, psychology, and spirituality through the years. Now I understand why my research project all those years ago didn’t produce anything interesting. After working so hard on my project for a year, designing a survey, collecting data, analyzing data…the final report was just uninteresting. Nothing came about from the exciting study. As I reflect on that experience and process, I now know what was missing – what was missing was depth, taking into consideration core beliefs. I didn’t dig deep enough. I was only looking at ‘perception’.
A belief is something that you are convicted in – it’s something that you know, without a doubt, you are in agreement with…a belief is your truth (or lie).
You can hold positive and negative beliefs. You can have safe and unsafe beliefs. If you are honest, loving, and patient with yourself, you can sit down and probably write a HUGE list of all the beliefs you hold. What do you believe (not think) about parenting? What do you believe (not think) about abortions? What do you believe (not think) is your best quality? What do you believe (not think) will happen when you die? What do you believe (not think) about same-sex adoptions? There are a million questions you could ask yourself. Be honest and approachable with yourself.
Below are some beliefs that you might have about yourself, parenting, or the world around you. Do any of them sound familiar?
- personal belief – “Animals are precious and deserve respect as much as humans.”
- personal negative belief – “No man will ever love me or want me.”
- external negative belief – “everyone is just idiots.”
- external positive belief – “I accept good karma when it arrives in my life.”
- unsafe parenting belief – “spanking children and having them put their nose in the corner of the room when they’ve done bad is the best way to approach discipline.”
- safe parenting belief – “I protect my child from any harm or exposure to unsafe circumstances.”
- personal negative belief – “I’m a terrible parent.”
- personal positive belief – “I approach life with positive intent.”
- personal negative belief – “life is always against me.”
Now, if you’ve read them all out loud – go back and reread a few and this time, pay attention to your ‘tone’ when you read them out loud. Did you notice anything different in your tone when you read the negative versus positive statements? It’s common to associate a brighter and an uplifted tone when you already know the upcoming belief is staged in the positive anchor. When you know a forthcoming statement is directed in a negative anchor, it’s more natural to think of the opposite of what feels good.
Positive beliefs are usually more paired with anchors such as healthy, happy, empowering, safe, uplifting…and so on. Negative beliefs are generally more paired with anchors such as self-doubt, sadness, unsafe, unhappiness, disempowering, and so on. Take note of any, even if the slightest, physical sensations that arise when you read the positive versus negative beliefs above.
Often gaining a new perspective and developing as a human can increase awareness of beliefs that we hold that are not helping us feel good and at peace. A belief is something that you are, without a doubt, convicted in knowing and stands firm as your truth. The more you can explore and examine your core beliefs, the further you will move in your journey of self-discovery.
Why are we talking about ‘values’? This topic is one that many people don’t think about much when they are working on self-development or trying to find new ways of thinking. The topic of values is important because knowing what we value in life is critical to understanding ourselves at a deeper level. Why is it important to know our self at a deeper level? Because it’s then, at our more profound levels of knowing our self, we can evolve.
To understand ‘value’ is to understand meaning underneath the worth you place on everything in life.
Just for a few moments, close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting on a shelf in a boutique store. Imagine yourself as a delicate and ornate figurine of some sort sitting on the top shelf in the store.
When you read the following statement, don’t take time to think about the answer. Just visually capture what comes to vision the quickest.
Now, look at the price tag on your figurine-self – how much are you worth? What is the price written on your price tag?
Sadly, I asked this question to a boy I was working with in the child welfare program some years ago. I wasn’t sure if he was going to understand the metaphor – but after asking him to close his eyes and practice this visual activity (the one you just did), he quickly opened his eyes and naturally said, “I’m free. Anyone can have me….but nobody wants me… and that’s why I’m up on the top shelf – not being seen and getting dusty”.
He ached to belong in a family, and over time had developed severe behavior problems. He had very low self-worth and couldn’t access a positive mindset. He felt out of balance with how he knew, deep down inside, life should be.
I’m sorry if the preceding activity was a hefty story for you to read and process. I know it will be for many, but I also want you to know that this is the real stuff, AND you’re in the perfect place.
As you continue working through the course, I’ll continue to fold in real-life examples from working with children and families for many years. A good story just doesn’t end! The stories in this course will continue to evolve. Hopefully, the stories will bring vital context for you to apply what you’re learning – actual scenarios and examples from real people I have helped over the years.
Through examining beliefs and values associated with beliefs, you can then take a look at your own systems of rules that you’ve established.
This means that for every belief that you hold, you have developed a rule to partner with that belief.
This concept was interesting to me some years ago when I learned about it. You might find that when you examine the rules that you’ve developed in your life, you will find that there are some rules that you don’t quite like or perhaps don’t serve your need (more about ‘needs’ very soon).
Let’s look at some examples of rules:
Rules can be developed in coordination with cultivating new beliefs. The rules you’ve established are usually heavily trained and ingrained in your subconscious (and often conscious). Therefore, making changing them (rules you’ve coordinated with beliefs) or acknowledging them rather tricky. Let’s look at some rules that are coordinated with beliefs.
personal belief – “Animals are precious and deserve as much respect as humans” (I value the life of animals; I believe animals are worthy of love and affection and kindness).
- Rule #1 – “I do not abuse animals” (behavioral)
- Rule #2 – “If I have an animal, I feed and care for it very well daily” (behavioral)
You might have a long list of rules that you consciously (are aware of) or subconsciously (are not aware of) that you perform/conduct/do out of habit because you are convicted (truly believe) of that specific belief.
Now, let’s look at some examples of rules that someone might establish if the belief was more personal.
personal negative belief – “I don’t deserve happiness” (low self-worth, don’t value individual needs, significance)
- Rule #1 – “I don’t deserve good things” (conducting negative internal self-talk as a go-to rule when good things don’t happen)
- Rule #2 – “I don’t expect anything great to happen for me in life” (outlook on life – the ‘outlook’ is the rule)
- Rule #3 – “If someone great comes into my life, I will avoid and ignore them” (behavioral)
Because you believe you don’t deserve happiness, you automatically accept that you don’t deserve good things. To recycle a negative belief (with new focus and intent), you must change your rules! If you change your rule to “I DO deserve happiness”, then you will consciously choose things in your life that promote happiness. To change your belief, change your rules.
As you can see, from going to examining beliefs about loving animals to beliefs about internal happiness, it just gets more complicated! The process of self-discovery is complex, but by studying many examples, you will get it!
personal negative belief – “I’m a terrible parent.”
- Rule #1 – “My kids don’t love me” (internal processing, cognitive, emotional)
- Rule #2 – “I don’t go to parent functions at my child’s school” (low self-worth, lack of acceptance, social isolation, behavioral)
- Rule #3 – “Smoking weed and yelling in front of my children doesn’t matter” (significance, behavioral, self-worth)
safe parenting belief – “I protect my child from any harm or exposure to unsafe circumstances.”
- Rule #1 – “I don’t allow my children to stay at other children’s homes unless I have met the parents.”
- Rule #2 – “Absolutely no drugs or alcohol are allowed around my children, period.”
- Rule #3 – “My children will always come first.”
personal negative belief – “life is always against me.”
- Rule #1 – “I don’t finish anything I start” (behavioral)
- Rule #2 – “I don’t take life seriously and never commit to anything” (commitment, behavioral)
- Rule #3 – “When someone tells me something positive will happen in my life, I do not believe them” (if this, then that)
Now that you have had some time to review these topics of beliefs, values, and rules, take some time to think about these topics within your own life. What do you honestly believe? How much weight or energy (value) do you place on your beliefs? What rules have you anchored to your beliefs?
Being able to change core beliefs is an act of bravery and vulnerability. Exposing the dirty, dark, and often painful truths of your thinking probably don’t sound like fun or something to ‘get one with’ on a Friday night. But I promise you that the more you explore and inventory these topics in your life, the more you will become comfortable dismantling and rebuilding them.
Tu Vives En Mi.