On changing beliefs in a changing world

A couple of months ago I met up with an old friend of mine I hadn’t seen in a long time. So, as it goes, we sat down for several hourse, enjoyed a few beers and had a nice long chat. Unfortunately, just before we met, his relationship took a turn for the worse, and his girlfriend broke up with him. Hence, he was not his usual cheery self. As we were talking, I was trying to help him get a different perspective on this problem, but I did not seem to get through to him. I still remember, we were walking back to the hotel when he said the following: “I always thought I was going to marry this girl. But, if I was wrong about this, wrong about something so fundamental, what else could I possibly be wrong about in my life?”

Looking at this conversation now, and many conversations I had at different occasions, I have come to realize a very important fact: We are addicted to our own beliefs. While this might not seem a groundbreaking, nobel prize worthy insight, the implications of this are quite intricate.

We believe all sorts of things about the world and ourselves. Some of these beliefs are more important than others, and some of them are so important to us that they shape our whole perception of reality. When I was a kid, I believed in Santat Clause, yet one day I found out that my parents were really in doing all the work. Changing this belief was not difficult (also the Easter Bunny was far a far from traumatic shift in beliefs…). Yet, I know of moments where a sudden change shifted not one of my beliefs, but all of them, even the one in myself.

The fact is, beliefs operate on a level that is just in between the conscious and the unconscious mind. Beliefs are part of what NLP calls perceptional filters through which we run all experiences in order to categorize them. Our beliefs are important to us, and sometimes changing them can be a very difficult task. Stressfull situations that challenge us and our belief systems can show us the power and the importance of beliefs in our every day lives.

What if we were to believe that things change? What if we were to believe that we can believe anything is possible? What if we were to believe that being wrong about one thing means learning? Of course my friend was still hurt, but I believe that sometimes its better just to listen than to talk…

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