What is the difference between your thoughts and your beliefs?
To start with, some of your thoughts are just thoughts; you don’t give them much meaning, power or energy. You think them into existence and then they disappear. They can have little effect on you once you know they are just thoughts. You can think things that are not true. You don’t feel anything when you think them. You have the ability to think things and not confirm them, to not make them true for you. You have the choice to not turn certain thoughts into beliefs. You can think something, yet not believe it.
A belief is just a confirmed thought. It’s a thought you have said ‘YES! That is TRUE for me!’
How can you change a thought into a belief, and vice versa?
You have the ability to make the decision that a certain thought is true for you. You can say ‘Yes!’ to it. You can take the simple thought and add a strong, ‘Yes, it is definitely true!’ to it. As you confirm the thought as true for you, you send messages throughout your body via your central nervous system and you feel the thought as true for you. You embody that thought as a belief. To you it feels right. You may even say, ‘I feel strongly about it.’ Your confirmed thoughts become your beliefs and make up your belief systems. Your beliefs are embodied into your neurology.
How do you create a limiting or toxic belief about work?
Beware, since you can make any thought true for you, you can create beliefs that are poisonous, toxic or limiting to you achieving what you want to achieve. These kinds of beliefs hold you back from reaching your true potential, or even make you sick! Since you decide what is true for you, you can choose to confirm thoughts that are unresourceful, limiting, and toxic. As Robert Dilts makes clear, a belief does not have to be true to be believed. Wow! I was genuinely shocked when I first read that. A belief does not have to be true for me to believe it.
‘I can think things I don’t believe.’
In other words, you can have many negative thoughts about yourself – for example, ‘I am stupid’, ‘I am a failure’, ‘I should be able to stand up for myself’, and so on, and make those thoughts true for you. Even if there is no evidence to support these thoughts, you will find evidence. You can believe these types of thoughts if you choose to.
Let’s consider an example of a toxic thought. If you choose to think, ‘I am not good at standing up for myself at work’, and confirm it, make it true for you, and embody it so it sends messages through your nervous system to make it real, then you will believe it. It will seem real to you. You then feel the experience of not being good at standing up for yourself affects your behaviour, and you walk around thinking, feeling, acting, knowing and believing you are not good at standing up for yourself at work. You might even identify with it, ‘I am a person who is not good at standing up for myself at work’.
After seeking out and finding evidence to support your belief, you make it permanent: ‘I will never be good at standing up for myself at work.’ And you can do that for the next ten, twenty years if you choose to, never questioning the belief. You even confirm it again and again: ‘But I still feel like I’m not good at standing up for myself at work- so it must be true. It’s just the way I am.’ Or never question it: ‘Do I mean in ALL contexts at work?’, ‘With EVERYONE at work?’, ‘What do I mean by ‘good’? What do I mean by ‘standing up for myself? Good enough according to what criteria? When will I know when I am good at it? What evidence do I need? How much evidence do I need before I am convinced?’
Empowering yourself involves becoming aware of any beliefs you experience as disempowering. Once you become aware of these limiting beliefs, you can question their effectiveness and change them if you choose to