Emeraude, my five-and-a-half-year-old niece in Paris, has become fascinated lately with…breasts (la poitrine). Namely, when is she going to have some of her own.
Recently, during her second lesson with a young, new piano teacher, Emeraude asked the unsuspecting 17-year old if she had an amoureux, a boyfriend. Upon hearing that she didn’t, Emeraude was taken aback: “But you have breasts!”
Clearly, even at her tender age, she’s developed some strong beliefs around the power of la poitrine.
This reminded me how we all have our own set of personal beliefs – beliefs that have developed in the context of environments created by our family, friends, colleagues, culture and society, and that affect how we experience our reality.
And once we have them, our brain is wired to look for and find evidence that supports those beliefs – and it filters out anything that doesn’t. Finding that evidence further reinforces the belief and the feedback loop goes round and round, perpetuating it.
Maybe that’s why we tend to think a belief is this huge, monolithic thing that will take years and effort to dissect, analyze and wrestle to the ground.
It’s actually simpler than that: A belief is simply a thought you keep thinking.
For clues to what your beliefs are, start noticing what comes out of your mouth. Do you say things like: “Managing people is hard.” ”There’s never enough time.” “I’m too old to start over.” “I’m not good at math.”
The statements you make reflect your view of the world, and your brain will go hunting for proof that you’re right (it’s very obedient that way). If you think something will be hard, it will be. Is that what you want to experience?
So, ask yourself, “What if I didn’t believe that? What would I do differently?” It may seem like there’s no way that belief could not be true (because that’s what your brain wants you to think, natch) but play a game of pretend and see if you can put your old belief on hold for just a day. What if it wasn’t hard, what if you could do it with ease?
Then, voila, with just a little raised awareness, as one day becomes two, then a week, then a month, you’ll see how old beliefs can melt away as you train yourself into new ones.