Beliefs are really important in coaching work. I thought I’d spent a moment clarifying what they.
Each and every thought, emotion, action we take and experience we have is shaped by our beliefs, this is why they are so powerful.
One person’s belief of an experience can be very different to another who went through the exact same situation and the exact same time.
Our beliefs to us are true, they just are.
It’s not until we’re challenged on them that we can begin to question their validity. We’ll seek ways to reaffirm our beliefs through how we perceive the world, or dismiss anything that challenges what we believe is true.
Let’s take an example close to me, my ‘immense dislike’ of bananas, from childhood I’ve found them repulsive – squirming at their texture, their smell and the sheer thought of having to digest one, to the point I simply cannot fathom they would ever enhance a dish or taste in any way delicious. I will constantly reaffirm this belief through consciously avoiding them, declaring them uneatable, their stringy bits disgusting, and refusing to try one. I know that they are not as hideous as I paint them to be, but I simply don’t want to change my belief (and do quite enjoy mocking them). Anyone who challenges my belief that bananas are good for me will be quickly shot down, I simply refuse to acknowledge there is anything great about them. Seems minor, but it’s really part of who I am, ‘I don’t eat bananas’.
Once we’re aware of our beliefs, why and how they were formed we can begin to understand our world better and often shift or shape it differently.
They are our individual (and collective) perceptions of the world. They are formed at a very early age, and continue to be reinforced in time (in fact in almost every moment of every day). They come from our upbringing, what family folklore we learn, our education, our choice of values and what we’re interested in. They are our first response (or often reaction) to experiences. This is why some are deeply embedded in our subconscious, and others like my banana example are very open and out on the surface.
Take the belief that the world was once flat, this has been challenged and proved incorrect with progress in science – that is belief no longer deemed true. Moving to more extreme examples (away from bananas) consider some fundamental beliefs people hold around religion, racism and the treatment of animals. Often there is no consideration of the facts here being right or wrong, they always have been, therefore they are true for people that hold onto them.
‘Whether you think you can or think you can’t, in either case you’re right’ Henry Ford.
This quote in poignant when we look at beliefs. However you look at a situation is the way it will manifest for you because of your beliefs. That is why seeing opportunities, different points of view, being adaptable, positive or optimistic are seen as resilience building – because you’ll always find a solution to a dilemma – not get stuck in a belief that doesn’t work for you.
Experiment a little…
See if you can surface a belief you’re holding onto.
Why is it true for you?
Is it true for others?
Is there something about this belief that needs to shift for you?
How can you seek a different perspective?