The statement used to be “seeing is believing.” Now we know that with photo shop and the digital age – this is no longer accurate, as images can so easily be manipulated. Even an eye witness account is suspect because of incoming filters, expectations, deleting, distorting, and generalizing information, and personal meaning that is attached to an action or event.
What has always been true is that when the brain creates a belief or opinion – this becomes a filter of reality for that brain. When someone has a belief (which is their opinion), it will “feel” true for them, based upon their projection of this reality onto an action or event. (“Don’t confuse me with the facts; my mind is made up!”)
Whatever a person believes, their brain will process every interaction through this filter of reality, and then actions and events will have meaning attached to them based on what will support that belief.
Example: When a person believes that other people are “out to get them”, every interaction will be processed through that filter of reality. Then, when the believer is in an interaction with a person, place or thing, the expectation is projected for negative, punitive, or dangerous actions towards the believer.
The following is an example of the projected victim thinking of “everyone is out to get me”:
- A person will be judged by the victim as being mean, harsh, or manipulative, against the victim, even if there is no evidence of that person actually behaving that way.
- A place will not be adequate, or right, it’s too hot, too cold, too noisy, etc.
- Whatever the thing, it will always break for them, not fit right, be cooked wrong, etc.
As a coach, educator, mentor, or person in relationship, it’s important to recognize when we are dealing with an inaccurate belief based on past experiences, or a “hook” that may be influencing the situation in a negative way. We want to listen for the language of limiting “opinions” that keep people stuck in repetitive negative interactions.
What you might hear are statements like:
1. “Everyone knows that its bad luck to say my team is going to win!”
2. “I can’t lose weight because my mother always said I was just like her and she was heavy.”
3. “There is no one out there for me, all the good guys/gals are taken!”
4. “You never give me any feedback, so that must mean I am just no good.”
Here is an example of a Limiting Belief that is an overriding perspective of life and relationship: “I can’t ever get what I want – and even if I did, it will be taken away from me.” Imagine what this person’s life is like…all of the power is coming from the outside. Life is happening “to them.” Not good!
Once you identify a limitation, it’s important to be able to sort out what are the facts and evidence vs. what are the beliefs and opinions. In contrast to one’s opinions, facts are based on empirical evidence that is verifiable by objective evaluation. There is something to actually see, hear, touch, experience, and is verifiable by a group. Truth with tangible evidence.
Facts about Beliefs:
- Beliefs are formed by direct experience, through our personal filters.
- Beliefs are formed based on what we are told is/was/will be true by an outside “authority.”
- Beliefs are formed when we have a direct experience and the meaning is interpreted by an outside authority and we adopt that authority’s opinion.
- Beliefs are formed in the absence of understanding a situation and the necessity to justify or explain the experience. Hence – ritual, superstition, anxiety, worry.
- Beliefs often are formed in moments of trauma or distress in an effort to protect us from future trauma or distress.
- Beliefs are formed by shifting paradigms of information and gaining more in depth understanding of a concept or reality.
- “Belief hooks” are formed in the structure of “If this…X…is true (assumption of a truth), then that…(unrelated concept or opinion) must also be true.” These hooks are often formed in situations where there is judgment, no protection, or the person takes on the blame for something that does not really belong to them. This creates a trap that is based on unsubstantiated information or suppositions.
So what are we to believe? How does one determine what is truth and what is fiction? How to you recognize or verify if what you see, hear, feel is true?
“So, how do you know that is true?”
“If what you said is true, then how is it possible that (insert opposite fact) exists?”
“Where did you learn (or how did you form) that opinion?”
“Do you suppose that person might have been inaccurate or had an agenda for telling you that?”
“Has here ever been a time or situation that was not true?” Looking for a counter-example… if you can find one place where the belief is not true – then it is just an opinion, not a fact!
“What is the purpose in believing that?” or “How does believing that keep you safe?”
The goal of such questions is to begin to open the person’s perspective to doubt. Once there is doubt, then you can insert or offer new information, facts, suggestions and thoughts that will actually serve the person better than the limiting opinion or belief.
For more depth in learning, there is a Hemispheric Integration process for creating our own “lie detector” and finding our authentic truth. It is called the Belief to Values Determination (BVD) process and is a way to integrate the conscious-unconscious understandings, goals, values and beliefs based on one’s internal truth.
Marilyn and Al Sargent are international trainers and creators of the field of Cognitive Emotional Re-Alignment with Hemispheric Integration™, a user’s guide for your brain and how to RePower Your Life!, relieve suffering and get the results you want. They have a passion for teaching people how to communicate effectively by understanding how the brain “thinks.”
As a coach, Marilyn specializes in the Sargent’s Natural Grief process, Healthy Relationships, Phobia / Anxiety Release, Learning Strategies, Personal and Executive Coaching, and Spencer Institute’s Certified Life Strategies Coach training.
Al’s book, The Other Mind’s Eye: The Gateway to the Hidden Treasures of Your Mind gives people the tools to discover the essence of their true self; to clear the clutter of the mind and live in the harmony of balance. His latest work is Moving Through Grief with Grace and Dignity, the Way Nature Intended, a book about living life in balance.
Marilyn and Al are featured in the movie The Compass, a story about a traveler’s journey and life lessons. They on the faculty of the Spencer Institute’s Life Strategies Coaching Certification.
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