All the beliefs you’ve acquired throughout your life were a perfect match for you at some point. If you were poor you likely preserved your ego by believing rich people were jerks, or that they had cheated the system. If you were at a low level in the social hierarchy you likely thought popular people were douchebags.
All beliefs serve us at the time they are first acquired. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t acquire them. However, regardless of where your beliefs originated it’s important to recognize dated beliefs and challenge their validity in your current life circumstances.
An example of this in my own life is the belief that popular people are douchebags. It’s a belief I’ve held as long as I can remember, and for most of my life this belief served me. As a kid I didn’t have the social skills to relate with those at the top of the social hierarchy, so rather than admit my own inadequacies I simply dismissed them as being jerks.
Was this an accurate assumption? Of course not. In reality there’s actually more assholes at the bottom of the social hierarchy, than the top. But I couldn’t see a way to become one of the popular kids so I held this belief for years because it allowed for the preservation of my confidence.
Here’s where things get interesting. In elementary, and middle school I was a socially clueless video game addict, but over the last few years I’ve developed a kickass “Alpha” lifestyle. I lift weights, have cool hobbies in juggling and rap, I write for this blog and make v-logs, and I’ve begun to develop passable social skills as well as a social life. In short, I’ve become a man on purpose. For a couple years now I’ve possessed the traits necessary to elevate my status, surround myself with “better” people, and enjoy life more.
However, despite this, I stayed right where I was. Comfortable at the bottom of the food chain. It took almost two years since the development of this lifestyle to begin to disintegrate my outdated belief. Why? Because I identified with being of the lower social class.
As human beings we have a tendency that I like to refer to as “belief inertia.” Essentially, the longer we hold on to a certain belief the more difficult it becomes to let go.
If you’ve been overweight your whole life your problems likely extend far beyond your actual diet and exercise regiment. Sure, you’ll lose weight if you diet and exercise properly, but that’s the problem. You won’t diet, and exercise properly because you identify with being overweight. It’s who you are. Or at least who you believe you are. Best case scenario you’ll lose weight, but gain it all back shortly after.
Why Do We Have Belief Inertia?
We have belief inertia for the same reason our bodies have homeostasis, for safety. If your body temperature increases or decreases by 10% you’re in big trouble. Similarly your brain see radically different beliefs as a threat.
You need to remember that your genetics motivate you to survive, not to thrive. Your brain has little motivation to replace your current beliefs if those beliefs already allow you to survive, and reproduce.
Also important to remember is the brain would rather make assumptions than feel uncertainty. In other words, if your brain doesn’t know the answer it’ll make one up. Your brain has a confidence preservation mechanism so that when it does see opportunities it has the confidence to take them.
Dissolving Dated Beliefs
Activities are compromised of masculine, and feminine energy. Activities compromised of masculine energy are those in which you attack. Think football, and proactively taking action to achieve your goals. Activities compromised of feminine energy are those in which you yield. Think dancing, or learning. You don’t attack learning, you yield to the process. Similarly, you don’t attack your beliefs, you dissolve them.
You can’t bully yourself into not believing something. However, you can yield to the process of dissolving an outdated belief. How do you do that? By providing your brain with proof rather than promises that a given belief is non-threatening, as well as effective.
Proof Rather Than Promises
Think back to the cavemen days. If you were wandering by yourself and you ran into another tribe of cavemen you’re be cautious and rightfully so. One inappropriate glance at the alpha male’s wife, and you were speared to death.
You couldn’t promise your brain, “Don’t worry little buddy. Everything’s going to be alright.” No, you were going to be uncomfortable until you had learned the social order of the tribe and been around them for an extended period of time, thus providing your brain with sufficient proof that you were safe.
Similarly, because of this belief inertia we still need to do the same thing today. You can’t logically convince your brain that you belong in a certain class of the social hierarchy. You have to prove it. I developed the lifestyle of an “alpha male,” but I didn’t begin to notice significant improvements in my place of the social class system until I began hanging out with higher caliber people, and thus proved to my brain that I belonged there.
Regardless of what kind of beliefs you’re dealing with you’re going to have to do the same.
Although all beliefs serve us when we first acquire them, more often than not they begin to hold us back as we ourselves evolve. Changing your beliefs is difficult, and often painful, but ultimately the evolution of a belief system more and more aligned with truth is what’s going to allow you to produce the best results as well as live the most fulfilling life possible. That’s what I want for you.
Picture taken in Arkansas near my Grandma’s old house.
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