Beware what you Believe!
“I will believe it when I see it!” “I am not good with people!” John will never make it as a manager!
We have heard these comments so many times. In fact we have most probably used the same terms ourselves before; or it might just be part of your philosophy of life.
Our convictions and opinions go beyond debating or arguing with people. It is a life-changing phenomenon. It influences every aspect of our lives – the decisions we make; our levels of success. It determines our sense of emotional-, spiritual- and interpersonal peace. It determines what we do, how we do it, and if do it at all! Pay attention to what you believe it makes all the difference! Henry Ford understood something about this principle when he said: ”Whether you believe (think) you can or you can’t, you’re right!”
This truth affects us directly and indirectly. To understand the direct influence our beliefs have on us; we need to understand that part of it has a physiological explanation. Scientists estimate the average human mind to be bombarded by roughly 2 million bits of information per second. This information enters the mind through our 5 senses every second of every day, 24 hours a day and night, 365 days a year, every day of our lives, for as long as we live. Our conscious mind cannot deal with this. For this reason (and a few other good reasons) we have been equipped with a filter called the reticular activating system (or RAS for short). The RAS uses as criteria the following factors to allow information into the conscious mind, the rest of the info is filed in the sub-conscious:
a) Is the information I received personally profitable?
It is for this reason extremely important that we take notice of our self-concept - what we believe we are capable of; and what we believe to be possible for us. If I have been conditioned to believe that I am useless in a certain area of my life, the RAS will actively join forces with my creative subconscious mind to prove to me that my conviction about that certain situation is indeed true. My conviction will trigger certain thoughts, and this focused thinking will cause a specific behaviour in line with the specific conviction, leading to a result that ‘confirms’ the conviction – in a process called Psycho-feedback. This is the so called self-fulfilling prophesy. As a result of neuro associative conditioning, this behaviour ends up in my nervous system as a neuro pathway – a conditioned response to certain situations in my life, which consistently give my results that I don’t want. To change one’s conviction through a set of new references, is the starting point of changings your life, but it is easier said than done, because of the neuro pathways that need to be rerouted through a process of ‘reconditioning’.
The influence of people’s beliefs goes beyond our belief of self. Our belief (conviction) of another person; influences our understanding and experience the person’s conduct. This is called perception or bias. We fail to see the person for whom he or she really is, and this influences our ability to relate to the said individual in a positive way. It goes further than this. If I am in a position of authority, my conviction of another can ultimately contribute to the person living up to my assumption or believe of him. John C Maxwell said: “People become what the leader assumes about them.”
In other words, do I as leader (or parent) believe that my team member (or child) is a high performer or low performer, good or bad, etc? In 1963 already, School principle Jacobson and Psychologist Rosenthal illustrated this in a test at a junior primary school just outside California. They called it the expectancy effect. Pre-tested students were randomly grouped in different classes, and then labelled as either the highly intelligent group or the ‘slow’ group. Subsequent tests as well as the student results proved the impact of an influencer’s, conviction, assumption or expectation of his student or team member, to also act as a fulfilling prophesy. Students assumed to be bright did much better than the students assumed to me slow! The sub conscious behaviour of the teachers ‘assuming’ that the student is highly intelligent or ‘not so clever’ lead to the student living up to their expectations. This is also called the Pygmalion Effect.( https://sites.google.com/site/7arosenthal/)
We see this process work both ways; a positive conviction will lead to positive psycho-feedback, to positive neuro pathways, and positive results, leading to a positive self-concept, and esteem. An empowering conviction about somebody else’s abilities, or intent, impact powerfully, and positively on creating the desired results. We need to identify the self-limiting beliefs we hold, as well as the limiting beliefs we hold of people in our relationships both professionally and personally. By asking ourselves a few simple, but powerful questions, we can change this for the better:
a) Why do I believe what I believe?
What we belief determines our whole life. It influences our thoughts, sparks our emotions, forms our attitudes, and determines ultimate what we say and do. What we say and do forms the basis for our realities.