Hey there, Dean here. I run SEO and content at AppSumo.

Here, I write articles and share book notes on productivity, leadership, money, psychology, and more.

How Are Beliefs Formed?

Without supporting evidence, beliefs are just random thoughts and ideas

Think of our beliefs as a room. Everything in the room is everything we can reach or have as long as we go and grab it. But we will never get anything outside the room.

If our goals and dreams are bigger than (outside of) our belief, we will spend the whole life to feel disappointed and thinking that we're incapable of achieving them. Many people are doing these, they want something that they never believe is possible subconsciously. What we really need to do is to expand our belief.

The question is: How are beliefs formed?

The story of Ben and Nick

Here's an interesting fictional story:

Ben, a drug addicts who went sober then get back to it for multiple times who committed in countless crime, get in and out of jail. When asked him why he behave in this way, his answer is because of his father. “How not to be with a father like that.” His father was a drug addict too.

But what is surprising is that Ben has an older brother, a high achiever of life — a lawyer with a happy family of two kids — Nick. Nick loves his wife and children, taught them principles to do good and live a happy life. When asked him why he behave that way, his answer is same with Ben.“How not to be with a father like that.”

They were raised by the same parents, live together and grown up together. So what pushes them into different life trajectories and outcomes?

Ben believes that it’s not his fault to become a drug addict like his dad since that’s how his dad act. “My life is doomed with a father like this.” then Ben gives up. Or “There’s nothing wrong with drug, since my dad was using it too!” Ben might believe this way.

But what happen in Nick’s mind is somehow very different.“My father is a bad example. I love him, but I will never be him. I will never behave like my father” and “I MUST have to love my family and bring them joy…” because he wasn’t able to experience those.

In short, our beliefs make or break us!

How our beliefs work

Imagine there is a table in front of you, with only two legs. What is going to happen? It falls. It will never be stable with two legs. Now, add one more legs, it gets much stable. Add another one, now it’s a table.

What about adding another 10? It becomes very stable where you can place a heavier object on top of it. That’s how our beliefs work.

how are beliefs formed

The table top is a belief, but it needs those pillars/legs to support it. Those pillars are the evidence that prove the belief is true.

Without the shreds of evidence, your beliefs are just some destructible ideas.

Do you believe you can finish a 5km run in 30 minutes? Let’s say you don’t for now.

Now, someone on the news did it. You might think: yea, maybe I can do it too.”, but there is still doubt. Then, two of your friends did it too, it seem very possible now. So, you give it a try and complete 5km in 40 minutes! Now you start to believe you can achieve it for sure. Your mind will start telling yourself: “All I need isto practice more and I will complete 5km run in 30 minutes.”

That’s how beliefs are formed — with pieces of evidence.

That was how people used to believe that the earth is flat and we’re the center of the solar system, and slowly changing their minds. And that was exactly how those crazy ones believe we will be able to fly one day!

How to change your beliefs

By understanding this idea, you now have a clearer view better control to what you’re programming into your head. Here're a few steps to recreate your life with the right kind of beliefs.

  1. Identify your visions and goals in life.
  2. Write down what empowering beliefs and what disempowering beliefs you have.
  3. Take a clear look at the evidence for your disempowering beliefs. If it’s possible, find ways to disprove those evidence. If not, find a new perspective to look at them.
  4. Look for extra pieces of evidence to support those empowering beliefs.

There is a saying that we’re the average of the five persons we hang out the most. And it's true.

Because these five persons will become and provide the evidence for many beliefs you have. Regardless it’s good or bad.

To change your beliefs, find a few role models and study their stories and experiences. You'll see that some of your beliefs are not as true as you think. Then, form new beliefs that lead yourself to your most desirable goals.

Footnotes

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