31/08/2018 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Latest News,Lifestyle,Mind Matters


by © marc de bruin

We all believe

How do you believe? We are all believers, did you know that? Whatever your religious background or creed, you believe!

Even when you are an agnostic, you believe! 

You might get already that I am not talking about purely religious beliefs here. I am talking about the beliefs each and everyone of us holds about the world around us, like: “the earth is a beautiful place”, “I do not deserve to be treated this way”, “I do not like cold weather”, “my father was the nicest man on earth”, “rain sucks”, “you are a good friend”, “I am too good for this world”, etc. etc.

These statements are all beliefs (some people even believe they are facts..!), mental belief-statements and/or judgments you make about -what you call- “reality”.


We have beliefs about everything (yes, everything) we (have) experience(d) in this world. You have beliefs about you, about other people , about work , the weather, your past, your future, the world, mental concepts, and on and on the list goes. You believe!

The sum total of these beliefs form your “road-map” of the world, the map you use to navigate your way through your worldly experience with. In other words, they are the spectacles you’ve -consciously or subconsciously- decided to put on to view your life through. Or, to put it differently, what you believe is what you will see, and what you see is what you will believe. Believe it or not.

A fact is, your beliefs are not mine, and mine are not my neighbour’s. We all hold different sets of beliefs. Nonetheless we can hold the same belief about certain things in life, and then we call each other “like minded” (or something similar)! When a bigger group of people have beliefs in common they usually join up and form a movement (like catholics, protestants, democrats, etc).

How do beliefs come about?

The interesting question in this context is: how are beliefs formed in the first place, and how can we use the answer to this question to create our own life’s experience consciously? That’s the topic I’d like to touch upon. I will not be talking about specific content of beliefs, but about “beliefs” in general, so it basically covers any belief we might hold.

Let’s start at the beginning. When we are born ( some people say) we hold no beliefs, so literally we have no idea. But from then on until the day we die, through our 5 senses, life happens. We are bombarded and imprinted with all kinds of experiences and events. These happen through our parents’ teachings, our schooling, events that take place in our lives, things that we’ve experienced before, etc. etc. In experiencing all this we slowly start to have our own thoughts about reality, and start linking thoughts together (cause & effect). We have an idea, form a concept, attach a meaning to it, feel a certain way about it, and solidify those thoughts more and more by doing so. We might still have some doubts and questions about how to organise our thinking into logical concepts, but we are on our way to forming beliefs!

For instance: at first, you have no idea about yourself. Then, parents and family tell you you are a human being, they name you a certain way and may tell you you are beautiful and are born to be happy. You start to form an identity based upon you being a beautiful, happy human.

As the thoughts gain more clarity, and you find confirmation and validation through “facts” and acceptance of your thoughts by others, they become knowledge . You ARE a human being, and your name IS, and you ARE beautiful and feel happy .This knowledge solidifies into a knowing , and then into a belief . The more clarity and affirming thoughts and/or experiences, and the lesser doubts and questions you have, the stronger your belief, which finally becomes a conviction .

The truth of it is, that the mere repetition of an idea or thought often sees that thought turn into a belief. To use a negative example: if I emphatically tell you long enough and often enough that you are ugly and no good, in the end you will start to believe that, and will start to doubt your self-worth for sure!

Coffee table

You can liken this system to a coffee table. The idea or thought you hold is the table top, and the “evidence” in the outside world that you base your idea/thought on are the legs under the table. The more legs your coffee table has, the stronger the thought (which then becomes a belief or conviction). The lesser legs the table has, the more shaky that belief is, and the more easy it is to make the table topple by questioning the validity of the belief.

From this follows, that your beliefs are based upon your experience with and in the outside world. There must be pieces of evidence for you to hold (or doubt!) a certain belief. The evidence comes up as soon as I ask you the question “why do(n’t) you believe that?” You’ll come with an answer “well, because….”, and OUT comes the evidence that supports your belief or challenges another one’s belief.


As you hear this, you might appreciate that I make use of this system of belief-forming in the coaching work that I do. For instance, a client has a business, and he claims the business is not going well. The underlying belief of the client may be that he is not a good marketer, and that is why (in his opinion!) the business is going badly. And there might be more “reasons” why it is not going right. All these reasons are legs under the coffee table’s top called “business is going badly”.

In this example, I will challenge the legs (i.e. reasons) under the table top to shift the perspective and make the belief shake. I use questions like: is the business going badly overall, or just on parts? And: what parts are going really well? In doing so, I saw away the legs under the coffee table, which eventually will weaken the belief (“it’s not so bad after all”).

In addition, I will have the client create new beliefs (new table tops), ones that are more conducive to business success. The only thing left to do is find legs under the table (i.e. evidence in the outside world) that exist already, and actively look for evidence (however small) that will support the new belief in the future. Repetition of the new belief, and taking the focus off the old one will make the new belief stronger and stronger, and eventually the new belief will become reality. Believe me. It works that way.


As a recap: beliefs are built over time, growing from thoughts, concepts and ideas, becoming more solid through life’s experiences, through education, through what influential people tell you, through events you’ve experienced before, etc. This continues until this thought/idea is so rock-solid that you do not doubt it anymore: it has turned into a belief/conviction. This is true for any belief, whether self-honouring or self-deprecating.

Still, however solid the conviction, it is possible to “uncreate” old negative beliefs and to create new positive ones. Destroy the ones that do not serve you well (by questioning their validity), and create ones that honour you and are effective.

When you understand how the process works, life comes under your control. You can change your life drastically, even though you think you cannot. In realising that you hold the tools, life becomes a very interesting game to play, with fascinating prospects. I, wholly and truly, believe THAT!


Article provided by Marc de Bruin

Simplifying Life Counselling