Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Where's Your Rudder?

Our beliefs about ourselves and about the world around us are like the rudder of ship. They guide us to follow certain directions to avoid others. Just like a rudder on a ship, your beliefs are very small but enormously influential. Because they are usually out of the way they are easily overlooked. Most of us don't even realize they are there.

In this discussion beliefs aren't those heavy presuppositions about God, politics, or freedom. We're focused more on the little beliefs like whether you can become wealthy, or lose weight, or whether all jobs are draining and devoid of enjoyment. Does someone have to lose for someone else to win? Do any good deeds go unpunished? Will you ever be good at languages? These are the types of (mostly) unspoken questions that we answer with our beliefs every day.

Do you know about the foundational beliefs you hold that are silently guiding your life? There is an easy way to find out what they are, and how they are guiding you. Just look at the results that have been occurring in your life over a recent period of time. Just like you can tell what a ship has been through and where a ship is heading by looking at the wake it leaves behind.

We develop and grow our beliefs in a variety of ways. We learn them some of them directly from other people. We might draw them from the experiences we have had. If we are fortunate we might learn them by observing the experiences of others.

We develop our beliefs quickly, they are plentiful, and cover the vast landscape of our lives. It is our beliefs that give us the sense of stability we require to operate everyday in a chaotic world. These feelings of security and certainty are necessary for us to predict, plan, and proceed each and every day in every situation.

Because our beliefs provide this amazing ability, we often fail to remember one of the most important aspects about any belief:
Beliefs are not Truth.
It is easy to forget that beliefs aren't reality. They are not necessarily true, and they are definitely not Truth. That is because we've just made them up. We've fabricated them from what we learn. They speak about the world, they are not the world. While they can give you a picture of the landscape, they are not the landscape.

There are two basic kinds of beliefs. There are beliefs that are positive. These empower us and give us the capability for forward direction. There are also beliefs that are negative. They limit or restrict us. Both types are valuable and necessary. But it can be interesting to discover which ones are influencing you in particular ways.

Think about the situations you have recently been faced with. Were you reacting to restrictions or limitations? Or were you pursuing something you desired?

In the next few posts in this series, I'll discuss some ways you can influence your own thinking (and by extension your own performance) simply by being aware of your beliefs and how they are motivating you.

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