How Your Beliefs Shape Your Life

Sometimes, beliefs can limit our happiness and potential. Far too often, they are so deeply entrenched in mind, that you live completely oblivious to them.

To overcome possibly limiting beliefs, we must incorporate mindfulness and self-examination. We need to look within ourselves to find out what’s dictating our decisions. To do that, we can become aware of these beliefs.

In this article, we are going to define values, beliefs, and behaviors, as well as how to identify the limiting beliefs and overcome them. Read on:

Your Beliefs don’t make you a better Person. Your Behaviour does.

What are Beliefs?

Beliefs are the assumptions we hold to be true. They stem from real life experiences. As human beings, our values and beliefs affect the quality of our life, our work, and our relationships. Since what we believe is what we experience, we tend to think that our beliefs are founded on reality. In fact, however, it is our beliefs that govern our experiences.

The beliefs that we hold are a critical and essential part of our identity. They could be religious, moral or cultural; but they are part of us and reflect who we are. Beliefs are broadly classified into two categories: rational beliefs and irrational beliefs.

Examples of Rational Beliefs
  • It gets cold in winter and warm in summer.
  • There is no real proof to validate this assumption, but our life experience has taught us to believe in it
  • If you treat people well, you will reap the rewards later on in your life.

Again, there is no proof of this, but it is believed that there will be positive payback when you show kindness to people.

Examples of Irrational Beliefs
  • All my friends are better than me
  • I think I’m going to screw up this relationship if I get into it

These are classified as negative beliefs and are usually referred to as mistaken convictions.

What are Values?

Values are the principles, qualities, and standards that we hold in high regard. They guide the way we live our lives and shape the decisions we make. A value can be defined as those things we consider to be worth.

It is commonly formed by a particular belief that is related to the value of that idea. Some people see great value in saving forests. However, someone else who relies on logging of timber as a way of life may not see the same value.

Values have a significant influence on most of the judgments we make as well as having an impact on the support we offer to others. Common values are those that are shared by a group of people, community or culture. They are passed down through sources such as religious organizations, institutions, family, and even media.

  • Family: family comes first; I should care for my family
  • Personal: the importance of working hard in life, how should I behave at a certain age?
  • Social: value of maintaining friendship, importance of doing things that people approve of
  • Spiritual: belief about being right and wrong, belief in gods
  • Economic: doing your job properly, approving or disapproving of foreign orders
  • Cultural: importance of standing firm in your beliefs as opposed to conforming to societal expectations
  • Historical: not wasting things, valuing human life, saving for times of drought

What are Behaviors?

The word ”behavior’’ refers to a lasting group of beliefs, feelings, and tendencies directed towards a particular idea, object or group of peoples. It is an attitude triggered by a belief about something. It typically describes what we think is the right way of doing something.

Other times, our own behaviors can make us blind to other people’s opinions, values, and needs. Behaviors will always have a positive or negative aspect, and when we have a certain behavior, we often have a tendency to behave in a certain way towards a particular person or object.

It’s very important that we map our own life — first consider the significant events that shaped your life, what qualities you admire in yourself and others, what beliefs you hold dear and what values you carry with you. Some of these may be personal qualities such as character, strength, respect, wealth, success, honesty, and health.

What we believe are important behaviors, or what behaviors we admire in ourselves and others, generally reflect our lives and the values we have established in our early years through the influence of religion, family, friends, culture or education.

Given that all of us have different values that have shaped our life experiences, we can understand why we all have a different set of behaviors. We do not all act or behave in the same way.

Examples of behaviors: cheerful or uncheerful, grateful or ungrateful, arrogant or humble, playful or serious, can or can’t do, open or reserved, authoritative or nonauthoritative.

Curious to know what you current personal values are? Take this quick survey and find out what truly motivates you to get out of bed everyday!

Can I Change my Personal Values?

We are all influenced to some degree by the values of our culture, religion, family or education. Knowing your own personal values can help you work effectively with people, resolve conflicts and support the philosophy of beliefs appropriately. Whatever our values are and wherever they come from, they make us the unique individuals we are today.

But if we experience all that what we believe in, then we need to change the negative values in our lives. We always attract those experiences that match our existing belief system. As such, we need to change the thoughts and values that do not improve our life or expand our mind. Replacing beliefs, behaviors, and values that are hindering our development with positive ones will benefit us.

Whatever you create through your values is a belief system. Fortunately or unfortunately, it is this belief system that determines whether you live a good or bad life. The key to changing a negative belief system is changing your values.

Answer the following questions then think what it tells you about yourself, where your values have come from and whether you can change them or not. There is no right or wrong answer — just answer honestly and be willing to explore the values that need to be changed in your life.

  • What race do I identify with?
  • Can I associate myself with people from other races?
  • What would my life be like if I was from a different race?
  • How many friends of the opposite sex do I have?
  • How do I relate to friends of the opposite sex?
  • If I was a different gender, how would my life be like?
  • What religion do I identify with?
  • Are my friends and colleagues from this faith?
  • How does my religion influence my life?
  • What culture do I believe in?
  • What do I like or dislike about my culture?
  • Is there any culture that stimulates me? What do I want to learn about this culture?
  • What is my language?
  • What other language do I identify with?
  • Who should decide what language to use in a certain place?
  • What political party do I identify with? Why?
  • What are my views on homosexual people? Why?
  • What are my views on drug abuse? Why?

Louis Rath 7 Values Process

Louis Rath has a rather interesting approach to values. Unlike other theoretical approaches, Louis is not concerned with the idea of people’s values. He is concerned with the process of evaluating. He focuses on how people came to hold certain beliefs and behaviour patterns. According to him, valuing is composed of seven processes:

  • Consciously choose one’s belief and behaviours by selecting 1) freely; 2) from various alternatives; 3) after careful consideration of the consequences of each choice.
  • Honour and uphold one’s beliefs and behaviours by 4) internally cherishing them and 5) be prepared to stand up for them publicly.
  • Living according to one’s beliefs by 6) doing something with the choice and 7) acting on the value repeatedly.

Louis Rath’s value classification approach doesn’t aim to instill any particular values. Rather, its goal is to help individuals utilize the seven processes of valuing in their own lives. People should apply these methods to their already formed beliefs and behaviors and to those that they are still developing.

What are Limiting Beliefs and how do You Overcome Them?

As mentioned before, the beliefs we hold true make up the fabric of our experiences. The stronger they are, the more they seem unshakable, and the more we will find evidence to support them. What many people don’t realize is that the majority of these beliefs are not really true. They only seem true because we’ve decided so.

There are a lot of collective limiting beliefs that you’ve probably agreed to:

  • Work is an annoying task
  • Marriage turns one into a very dull person
  • Time is money
  • Once you are an adult, life becomes more of responsibility, not fun

Interestingly, none of us wants to keep these beliefs, but we either think:

  1. This is the way things are done. After all, everyone agrees to it.
  2. It has become part of my life, and it’s too hard to change now

To successfully solve the first problem, we need to realize that what we frequently believe in is the way things are. In reality, it is just a common assumption. And because it is just an assumption, we need to agree to make the assumption on some unconscious level. This means that we need to reclaim our consciousness and choose to stop agreeing. It is really that simple.

When it comes to ingrained limiting beliefs, these can be a bit harder to shake off. We are so used to them, and we even identify with them. They hold lots of weight in our lives, and it feels almost as if they are immovable blocks on our path. Some of this include:

  • The feeling of not being worthy
  • A sense of not being fulfilled
  • Having to work so hard for money
  • Not deserving success

These things can seem too hard to change. And even if you try to make a consistent effort, you always fail.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make the shift to new and non-restrictive beliefs.

1. Stop identifying with those limiting beliefs. It’s so easy to get absorbed and let beliefs define us, but do they really have to? The first step to ditching these beliefs is to stop identifying with them and define yourself based on what you want to believe in.

2. Kill Your Conclusions. Whatever you think you believe to be certain is probably a lot more flexible than you imagined. What you think to be true is certainly much more negotiable. Question all the beliefs you have about what you think is true, and kill any false conclusions.

3. Test Your Assumptions. You need to do something to break your limiting beliefs. Some type of action must be taken to put your conclusions to the test. Questioning is the first step. Just make sure you don’t limit your head to lead you to reinforce your conclusions.

What does Language have to do with Belief?

Since its inception in the 1930s, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis has sparked a lot of controversies and bred research in a number of disciplines including philosophy, linguistics, psychology, and education.

Edwin Sapir and Benjamin Whorf brought attention to the relationship between beliefs, language, and culture. None of them formally wrote this hypothesis nor supported it with tangible evidence, but through an in-depth research of their writings, researchers have found two main ideas:

  • The language you speak determines the way you interpret the world around you
  • The language you speak influences your beliefs about the real world

Both Sapir and Whorf agreed that it is our culture that determines our language, which in turn determines our beliefs about the world and our experiences in it.

For a long time, researchers have tried to refute this hypothesis. They said that it is impossible to test one’s worldview without using language.

In 1984, Kay and Kempton’s study supported Sapir-Whorf’s theory of linguistic relativity. They said that language is a part of belief. According to their study, English speaker’s beliefs were distorted in blue-green areas while Tarahumara speakers who lacked a blue-green distinction, showed no distortion in their beliefs. However, under certain conditions, they found that beliefs and language were not dependent on each other.

Many of the values we uphold in our lives were created by others and are either false or self-limiting. If you’re wondering why you behave the way you do, it’s because of the values system, beliefs and attitudes we have observed in our environment and hardwired them into our minds. If you want to live an unrestricted and rewarding life, you need to identify these negative and self-limiting beliefs and discard them.

Finally, keep in mind that the beliefs that got you to where you are now won’t necessarily get you to where you want to be in the future. Your beliefs and values system must change with time; they must also change as your goals change.

Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.

William James

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