One of my favorite quotes is by the father of the automobile industry, Henry Ford who said in no uncertain terms:
“Whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t, you are right!”
Ford knew how powerful and prophetic our beliefs are. He happened to use this knowledge to build one of the most remarkable industries of our times.
For many of us, one of the unfortunate things about our development into adulthood is the loss of our childlike innate knowing of our power. It is a knowing that I think most of us do not fully appreciate. It is what enables a child to crawl, then walk, to make incoherent utterances and then talk, in short, to do all the things that a child eventually learns to do.
Many of us would have experienced the increasing difficulty of learning a new language as adults or a new skill such as rollerblading or using a computer. Yet children learn such things effortlessly, the younger the child, the less the effort. Why? Because the child is not encumbered by limiting beliefs especially beliefs in failure!
What Ford understood is that our beliefs work to our benefit as well as against it, depending on what they are. Now most of us have an appreciation of this. However, there are two things that seem to prevent us from cultivating and using our beliefs to help not hinder us.
The first is our general lack of ability to recognize our beliefs. This is a skill that The Love Course helps you develop using the important and powerful technique of loving self-observation.
The second is even more insidious! The Love Course says:
“The difficulty for most of us is not about whether we can change our beliefs but whether we want to!”
This may seem rather ridiculous at first. Surely we would want to change any belief that we recognize as limiting? The sad truth is, many of us are habituated into our beliefs. We have grown accustomed to them and we have devised entire suites of coping strategies that pick us up, at least in the short term, each time we predictably fall. We’ve learned to live that way. It is familiar and that familiarity affords us a degree of security – enough to carry us to the next setback or failure.
For instance, we’d rather wear glasses/lenses than believe we can read/see without them (and we can of course!). It’s just become more convenient and the results are more immediate.
Or, we’d rather do something for our children rather than believe they can do it quite competently for themselves. It’s just more convenient or quicker and it gives us a sense of power or worth.
Or, we’d rather keep ourselves in a certain job or position in life than believe that we are as capable as any of those people we admire. It minimizes our risk of failure. It feels safe.
Or we’d rather be medicated or operated on than believe that there are some very basic principles that govern our wellbeing. Observing these principles would entail a huge shift from our current lifestyle. Besides, they seem too simple, hardly as ’sophisticated’ and ‘impressive’ as the jargon of medical terminology and its accompanying pharmaceuticals, technology and procedures. And sadly, we have learned to believe in the authority of others rather than in our innate wisdom. You might find the work of Dr Bruce Lipton interesting in this regard.
Sever the chains of the ego. Set yourself free and witness the bright essence of your inner being. Discover within your heart the wisdom of a prophet without books, without teachers and without prudence. – Rumi translated by Aneela Khalid Arshad at Beliefnet
In these and so many other ways, we make the choice not to change our beliefs. In so doing, we choose not to live as the free, powerful and loving beings that we naturally are!
As the The Love Course so rightly says, it is not a matter of whether we can change our beliefs or not (we most certainly can - read about Bandura’s Self-Efficacy Beliefs), it is a matter of whether we want to!