Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge
I was born in Greece, the home of olives and grapes. I studied Economics and had a successful career in IT before stumbling across Life Coaching and NLP. Today, I’m an NLP trainer, a Life Coach, a wife, a mother, a world traveller. Nothing gives me more joy than sharing what I’ve learnt, and am still learning, with you. Read more
The forming of beliefs is a complicated process; similar events can trigger different thoughts and ideas. It is the evidence and the proof of certain events in our life that enforce our beliefs, determine our decisions and the way we will live our life.
Beliefs are stored in our un-conscious. There is no judgement in our sub-conscious. People behave based on what is stored in the unconscious. They behave consistently to their beliefs. It is the conscious mind that puts judgements and only this can add new beliefs and change the existing ones before sending them back to the unconscious.
One thing is certain about beliefs: you do not have any when you are born.
You do not know if you are male or female, black or white, smart or stupid, ugly or beautiful, lovable or unlovable. It is only after you come to this world beliefs start developing and taking different shapes and forms.
Depending on the family or environment we come into, the first beliefs are created deep in our baby brain. A loving family or an environment deprived of love and tenderness will create different memories.
If you are a single child, you could develop a stronger belief of self whereas when you have siblings, you could develop strong ideas in favor of teamwork and companionship or competition and antagonism.
Your childhood and circumstances around it are directly related to your self-confidence and they will mark your attitude towards people and events for the rest of your life.
Your health and any physical limitations will also have an effect on your experiences in life and therefore your opinion of what matters the most. People with handicaps will have to overcome adversity in more levels than healthy people, a fact that can make them stronger in spirit and drive them to commit themselves to goals that others consider impossible.
Furthermore, if family members have suffered cancer or other diseases, this could make you take better care of your health or surrender to your fate and await death.
It can always go either way. Similar experiences in life can impact people’s beliefs negatively or positively. Beliefs are interdependent and also related to your values.
Religion and your relationship with God affect us all very deeply. Historically, it has been one of the most important influences of people’s principles and beliefs. These are mostly affected by tradition and the beliefs of the people who raised you.
If your parents, your teachers and society do or do not believe in God, most likely you will follow their ideas and convictions regarding religion and consequently male/female equality, importance of prayer, spirituality, honesty, honour, freedom, love and integrity. These are blueprints in our unconscious.
People have slaughtered each other in wars, inquisitions, and political actions for centuries and still kill each other over beliefs in religions, political ideologies, and philosophies.
Organized religion has played the most significant role in the support and propagation of beliefs and faith. This has resulted in an acceptance of beliefs in general.
Even today, wars and terrorist attacks do occur because of very strong religious beliefs.
Some people believe that dying for their country is the most honourable thing to do where others think that killing people or themselves for a greater cause is a noble action.
Discrimination in all its forms can be result of religious beliefs.
In some countries because of religion or culture the period that breast feeding is given to a baby is different for males and females, defining this way the difference of importance of the individual as well as their role in life.
Similarly, religion can aspire kindness and courage. It can unite millions of people for a better cause. Religion gives a sense of belonging. Traditions and thousands of years of common history create strong bonds of trust and respect.
Politics and the educational system, the culture and ethics of a society determine various certainties in people’s minds—Depending where one is born and what time period, one might think that cows are holy animals or communism is evil.
Political inclinations might mean very different things in the 19th century than in the 20th and Islam or Christianity have different impact on people hundreds of years ago and now. Countries’ history is a crucial factor impacting beliefs; has your country faced war, peace, economic growth, poverty, natural disasters or struggle for human rights?
The perception of every individual about health, food, physical beauty, sex life, education, dance and celebrations will also be determined by physical environment and climate. For example, living in the city can create a belief that everything in nature is dangerous.
Because of the society’s standards about beauty, some people who think that they do not meet these standards develop deep traumas and become insecure and unhappy.
What could be considered as a facial flaw in a society, could lead people to spend a lot of money in plastic surgery boosting profits of many commercial companies that will tell you through advertising that your belief is right.
Art, Television, Theatre, Science or the non-existence of those can influence differently positively or negatively our beliefs.
An independent or protected life could also have different impact on who you think you are and your place in the world.
If you are born into a wealthy or poor family will also determine your beliefs about equality, importance of one-self, initiative, overcoming barriers.
Fear is a very powerful factor. Natural disasters, contagious diseases, violence in the house play a role in what one’s thoughts about their life and the decisions and risks they can take.
Some scientists even refer to language and the years it took to develop. Can you imagine all the errors in the meantime that could lead to miscommunication and wrong beliefs? Can you imagine the impact?
Beliefs will determine love and success in your life. Your health, significant other, your professional choices and basically every single aspect of your life will be the result of your self-esteem. Positive beliefs will draw more positive ness and more people towards you.
If you think you cannot possibly live your dream on your own, without someone else changing or helping you, you are probably not living your dream right now. If you see yourself as a failure, you probably are not focusing on the possibility of being wildly successful. On the other hand, if you believe it is your destiny and your right to be tremendously successful, you have your eye set on that goal.
A belief not adding to your life but instead acting as a barrier to your happiness and success, it is called a limiting belief. It is very common that people live with limiting beliefs all their lives. They are beliefs that they inherited from all the above-mentioned categories and it is very difficult to doubt them or even yet consider they might be limiting in any way. These also have an impact on attitudes, feelings, behavior and performance.
It takes a change, a breakthrough to swim against the current and then a lot of commitment and courage to change a disempowering belief. You need to be open and re-evaluate all your beliefs quite regularly. Pioneers of this world do that. The world evolves and progresses by people constantly revising and doubting the norms.
Beliefs can also create further beliefs. This could be dangerous if already your initial beliefs are not working for you. Statements like ‘ I will never find a job’, ‘ nobody loves me’, ‘I cannot do this or that’, ‘ I am not funny’, and all have characteristics of limiting beliefs like generalizations, labeling, focusing on negatives and closing off possibilities. Since people will act upon their beliefs, chances are all these statements will come true and this shows the huge impact they have on our world. Whenever there is pain, cruelty and despair in the world, there are limiting beliefs feeding them.
The language we use provides some interesting clues as to whether or not belief is something we can choose by an act of will. For example, we will often hear about people preferring to believe one thing or an other, about people being inclined to believe one thing or another, and about people finding it difficult or easy to believe one thing or another. All of this implies that belief is something chosen. Moreover, it also suggests that our choices are influenced by our desires and emotions.
Nobody’s beliefs are fixed for all time. What does it take for you to revise or at least question your beliefs? What are the occasions of revision? Perhaps you are unaware that you hold inconsistent beliefs; perhaps you are aware that you have inconsistent beliefs but did not find yourself in a situation in which you can no longer tolerate the inconsistency.
Perhaps due to some new experience, whether your own or that of some trusted other on whom you rely, you have acquired a new belief inconsistent with one or more beliefs previously held; eventually you reach a stage you find yourself into a situation in which one or more of your beliefs is subjected to a challenge that, as an existential or at least practical matter, you cannot ignore. Revision of one or more of the beliefs that constitute a person’s web of beliefs may require revision of one or more further beliefs, given the extent to which a person’s beliefs are interdependent.
Frequently people cannot understand how others can have specific beliefs and why it is so difficult for them to change them. ‘Why he does not understand?’ we think. ‘It is so obvious! How on earth can he believe that?’ We get frustrated because others cannot change who they are overnight, because their beliefs are different than ours.
It always seems easier on the other side, doesn’t it?
People you love, live and work with will have different beliefs than yourself and it is essential to respect and be open to the beliefs of others. It is very important to remember that we are all different and nobody has the identical experiences that you had, neither the same tools nor information to interpret these experiences the same way you do.
This is the beauty of this world and this is the challenge.