Believe it or not…
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right.” Henry Ford.
Or maybe that should say believe!
They may not be something you are aware of as you go about your daily thinking and doing, but they influence all aspects of your life.
Your beliefs will determine what choices you make, from what food you eat to the job that you do and many more in between. They will determine how you approach those choices; with enthusiasm or confidence or with dread and fear. They will determine your emotions and your behaviours and thoughts within those choices…. The list of the influences of your beliefs is almost endless.
You will have core beliefs that mainly remain relatively unchanged as you go through life, unless a big event causes you to question that belief; eg what is right and wrong and your religious beliefs and even whether you have an allergy to something or if you are good at sport.
But each day your countless beliefs will change depending on your mood and the experiences of the day, but they become self-prophesizing as once we believe something to be true, we will find all the evidence that supports that belief and therefore approach that activity with a negative or positive attitude.
How beliefs can influence your health
You have no doubt heard of the placebo effect, most often referred to in medical trials. It is a term used to describe the phenomenon of someone having a positive response i.e. the relief of symptoms, when given what they believe to be a medication, but is actually only a sugar pill.
A nocebo is when someone believes that something will result in a negative effect on their health i.e. they have read the possible side effects of a tablet so the symptoms occur even if they are given a fake tablet.
This happens because a belief that relates to yourself will affect many aspects of your physiology, for example; If you believe you will panic if you are in a crowd, as soon as your mind computes a crowd, it will translate that information as a danger, so will trigger your fight and flight response and the many changes in your physiology that your mind will interpret as you panic! Thus reaffirming your belief.
If however you believe you love a crowd, you will feel happy and even excited by being surrounded by people as you will be releasing some happy hormones instead.
So you can see it is not the situation that’s the problem but your belief about it that has determined your response. When we feel something we believe it to be true.
Health conditions, chronic pain and allergies
If something hurts you are likely to believe there is a problem with that part of your body. If you stroke a cat and start sneezing you may believe you are allergic to cats. If you have a health condition like arthritis and you believe that damp weather will make it hurt more, when it is damp and you are in pain, your belief will be reaffirmed if this is what happens. Though just having that belief can trigger the expected response.
Once you have suffered a health issue your body will store all the accompanying information in its memory so should you begin to experience something similar again it will know how to respond. A bit like a vaccination, you get a safe dose of something to create an immune response in the body so it creates antibodies, so should it face a bigger threat from the same thing it will be well prepared to kill immediately.
When you have a bad experience like an injury, illness or allergic response or even felt anxious, your unconscious mind will remember the feelings, accompanying smells, sights, sounds and a whole lot more irrelevant sensory information that it will now consider are potential dangers. The result being you can be triggered into a physiological change in your body by something that was totally unconnected to your illness or injury. Thereby setting up both conscious and unconscious beliefs about certain things.
An example of this could be that you are unwell after eating chocolate, it was not the chocolate that made you ill it was a virus, but the next time you see, smell, taste or even think about chocolate you feel unwell. This is called a conditioned response. As a result of this you may now have the belief chocolate makes me ill.
Because this is how our brain works you will have created lots of beliefs around conditioned responses in all areas of your life, which are outdated or were only true because you believed they were. It can be hard to get your head around but many of our day to day issues occur only because we have programmed them to!
Breaking beliefs by forming new ones
The key to change is to create a better alternative to the one that you are getting the challenge to this can be our bodies own wiring, so hacking this process by communicating in the right language is your most powerful option.
The language of your unconscious mind is your breath, your body and your imagination.
Remember it took a while to form these programmes, so it will take a while and lots of practice to change them.
- Firstly you need to recognise your beliefs and decide are they limiting you or empowering you. Being aware will give you valuable information of what you need to change if you want to feel differently.
- Know what you want to be getting i.e. if you are always tired, you may want more energy, if you are stressed you will want to feel calm.
- Recognise what those states feel like by accessing memories of when in the past you felt that way. Notice how your body feels in this state.
- Question your beliefs, they will often show up as thoughts. Would they stand up in a court of law as being true or can you find a more empowering belief for that situation? For example if you believe that you are always tired, find evidence of times when you are not and state a new more positive belief e.g. “there are times when I feel wide awake.”
- Listen to your thoughts but don’t believe them, they are just a story about your feelings or your unconscious response and they go off in all directions, backwards (rumination) or forwards (fortune telling).
- If you don’t like what you are getting then you can alter feelings by using breathing, relaxation and visualisation exercises to change the feelings and disempower the negative belief.
There are many more exercises you can do but those are a few to help you begin to believe good things about yourself and what you are capable of.
Learning to be healthful
If you want to resolve your challenges and reach your optimum health, happiness and success potential then a healthful mind is essential.
To help you understand more about Healthfulness and start your Healthful Mind fitness training today, you can sign up to my free 14 day Healthfulness programme, delivered straight to your inbox over the next 2 weeks.
All the details and sign up can be found at www.alexawarner.co.uk/healthfulness