June 4, 2022

You've Been Programmed: How Your Beliefs Have Created Your Reality

"You've Been Programmed: How Your Beliefs Have Created Your Reality" from Build Our Best Lives Blog

     From the moment you were born, you've been programmed to end up where you are today.  Here's how it happened:

     When you came into this world, your brain started receiving messages from your family, your community, and everything around you.  The messages you heard multiple times became wired in.*  This is what formed your core beliefs about yourself, your abilities, your limits, and the world.  Those beliefs began a chain reaction that has caused your life to look the way it does today.

     Ultimately, your beliefs have influenced every choice you've ever made.  (A person who's heard from a young age that the key to a good life is to go to college and get a corporate job will probably do just that.  Somebody who's always been told that college is only for wealthier families probably won't try to save for it or look into financial assistance.  A person who believes they can make friends easily will talk to a lot of people, and somebody who believes they're unlikeable won't make as much of an effort to connect with others.  Someone who believes they're lazy will act lazy, and someone who believes they're a hard worker will work hard.)  Your thoughts are the cause of every effect in your life.

     Your actions have gotten you results that have further reinforced what you believe.  (The person who believes they're unlikeable who rarely reaches out to people, doesn't make or keep many friends, supporting their belief that people don't enjoy being around them.  The hard worker successfully completes a difficult project, strengthening their belief that they can and should work hard.)  It's also likely that you've attracted like-minded people who have reaffirmed your beliefs.

     When introduced to new ideas, you've been more inclined to accept them if they support what you already believe.  The brain ties new information to what it already knows, and tells you how to feel about it accordingly. Your whole life, you've viewed the world through a filter of your programmed beliefs.

       When something is wired into your brain, your mind goes to work for you to prove it to be true.* (If you believe you're a winner, your brain will come up with a list of things you've done right that prove why, and if you believe you're a loser, you'll come up with a list of things you've done wrong.  If you believe something can be done, you'll learn how to do it, and if you believe it can't, you'll come up with a list of obstacles in your way.) The brain comes up with evidence to support its beliefs, and fixates on it so that it overshadows anything else.

     Basically, the subconscious mind wants to be right.  It will do what it can to make its beliefs a reality.  The stronger your beliefs are, the more you'll be moved in that direction.

     Be aware of this:  Not every message you've been programmed with has been 100% true.  It's likely that even people you look up to have unintentionally provided you with inaccurate programming.  Repeated messages get wired into the brain regardless of whether they're true or false. 

     Most of us have been programmed with at least some beliefs that place limits on what we can do, be, or have.  These are called "limiting beliefs," and they can hold you back from getting what you really want out of life. When you believe you can't do or be or have something, you cut yourself off from achieving it.  (If you don't believe wealth is attainable, you won't bother learning how to become wealthy.  If you don't believe you can be a successful author, you won't publish and promote your books.)

     Take a close look at any area of your life that you aren't completely happy with.  Chances are the problem can be traced back to your beliefs.  Your success or failure at anything is directly tied to your beliefs about it.  People who live lives we admire usually have either been programmed that way, or have learned to change the way their minds are wired.

     The reinforcement of your beliefs is a cycle that continues indefinitely unless your brain is reprogrammed with new messages.  You're unlikely to break the cycle if you don't make it a point to change the way you think.

     The good news is, once you become aware of your limiting beliefs, you can start to change them.  You can reprogram your mind to improve any area of your life.  Imagine the person you'd be if your brain was wired in your favor.  The key to achieving this is to change your thoughts.  I'll explain how to do that in my next post.

     To learn more about how you've been programmed, and how you can change it (and change your life), I recommend reading What to Say When You Talk to Yourself by Shad Helmstetter, PhD.

     For a quick read check out his book Self-Talk for Self-EsteemThere's an emphasis on the way our self-talk affects our self-esteem, but this book is a great introduction to our programmed beliefs and how to change our self-talk, and only takes about an hour to read.

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* See a quick explanation of the science behind this here.