The Anatomy of Belief
Belief can be a powerful force that affects - in either a positive or negative way - our perception and attitude towards events and people around us, our convictions and mindset about what we can achieve and even our capacity to heal physically, mentally, emotionally.
So why don't we simply believe in the best possible outcome?
What is belief?
First, let us dissect the anatomy of belief. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, belief is a mental attitude without the full intellectual knowledge required to guarantee its truth. A Judgment, opinion or suspicion.
Belief helps us to interpret our everyday reality. This could be in the form of religion, political affiliation, philosophy, or spirituality. Whether personal or cultural, our beliefs influence us by modifying our behaviour.
Leaving politics and religion to one side, let's concentrate on what we believe about ourselves: intelligent, stupid; beautiful, ugly; healthy, unhealthy; powerful, victim etc. These beliefs are shaped and influenced by a number of different factors, one of them is our environment and up bringing. For example, those of us born and bred in a culture (our immediate family but also the community and larger society in which we live) that promotes gender equality, will believe that men and women have similar mental and intellectual capacities. In other cultures and societies where the gender bias is extremely lopsided, there are vast repercussions on what both genders believe to be true about themselves.
So, if belief is a state of mind, can we change it?
Can we change our belief?
Just last week, I attended a seminar given by Bruce Lipton, a cell biologist who has applied the principles of quantum physics to his field. While traditional cell biology focuses on the physical molecules that control biology, Dr. Lipton’s work focuses on the mechanisms through which energy in the form of our beliefs can affect our biology, including our genetic code. His idea is that gene expression can be influenced (via epigenetics) by environmental factors i.e. people have a greater impact on their health than genetic research has previously determined. In other words, beliefs exist not simply in our minds, they are directed to the level of the cells that make up our bodies. So if our beliefs can change our physical health, how can we change our beliefs to be healthier? Dr. Lipton bridges science with spirituality and in his book " The Biology of Belief" explains how even our most firmly held beliefs can be changed.
This means that we have the power to reshape our lives by changing our beliefs.
How can we grow through our belief?
Amy Cuddy, the American social psychologist, is widely known for her 2012 Ted-Talk "Your body language may shape who you are" in which she presents her research on the phenomenon of "power posing". Through this research and from her personal experience, she has found that taking a "power pose" (think Wonder Woman!) will increase the level of dominance hormone, testosterone, in the body. This is true even when manipulating the mind by role changing and pretending to be powerful for just two minutes. She concludes that even the most powerless people can change their behaviour by faking it.
"Our bodies change our minds...
Our minds change our behaviour...
Our behaviour changes our outcomes.
But don't fake it until you make it... Fake it until you become it!"
It might seem like an impossible challenge to rise to, however, ultimately we all have the choice to change our beliefs to sustain an empowering stance in life - whether in our relationships, our work or our intellectual, physical or emotional capabilities.
"You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember, all I'm offering is the truth."