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How Beliefs Work

Tim Ong

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A belief is merely a perception of reality.

The ancient spiritual teachers taught us that there are two types of truths - absolute truth and relative truth.

We live in a universe where everything we perceive is relative to something else. It is a relative universe. An object is big in relation to another smaller object. However, when compared to a larger object than itself, then it is small.

The same is true for everything else, whether it is about money, temperature, skills, knowledge, feelings or wisdom. Everything is relative.

In a relative universe such as ours, truth is therefore only relative. It is never absolute. Absolute truth cannot be perceived by our normal way of perceiving or seeing the world.

We see and experience the world according to our beliefs

One of the important things we need to realize is that we see and experience our world according to our beliefs. If we believe that this universe we live in is a hostile place, then we will selectively choose to see evidence to validate this belief. We see violence, hunger, poverty and all the negative images and events in the world we live in.

In truth, what we have done is that we have focused our attention to these negative qualities and events. There are just as many positive qualities and events out there, such as peace, abundance, beauty, tolerance, generosity, love and wisdom. Since our belief in a hostile world directs our focus onto the negative events, we easily miss out on all these positive qualities that are also in abundance in this world. The more focused you are on the negatives, the harder it is for you to see the positives.

There are no right or wrong beliefs, only empowering or limiting beliefs

Fools fight for their beliefs, believing that theirs is the only truth. Some would even kill for their beliefs.

The wise know better than to do that.

Since a belief is a perception of reality, and our perception is grossly limited by our perspective, sense organs and mental filters, we cannot claim to have the only truth or the only right way to perceive a reality.

Looking at reality from a different view point or perspective would give us a different interpretation of the event, as exemplified by the story of the blind men and the elephant. In addition, we perceive through our sense organs but these sense organs also have limitation. For example, our eyes can only see certain wavelengths of light, as are our ears to sound. Animals have different sensitivity to light and sound compared to ours and so they perceive the world differently. To further distort reality, each of us has our own mental filters in the form of existing beliefs, concepts and assumptions in our mind when we interpret what we perceive.

Seen from this perspective, there are then no right or wrong beliefs, only beliefs that are useful to expand and enhance your life or beliefs that are limiting your self and restricting your growth.

One of the goals of mind training, therefore, is to change our limiting beliefs by replacing them with empowering beliefs.

How to change beliefs

"Awareness before change" is a good adage to remember in personal transformation. Whatever it is we want to change in ourselves, we must first have the awareness that what we have right now is inadequate or harmful. Only then will we be motivated enough to change. This is especially true for beliefs.

To change our beliefs, we should first be aware of our existing beliefs. Unfortunately, most of our beliefs are beyond our conscious awareness. They are in our subconscious mind.

We can increase our awareness of our beliefs, assumptions and concepts about the universe and life through regular meditation and contemplation. Constantly challenging our assumptions, beliefs and understanding about how the universe works helps to expand our thoughts and open our mind to new possibilities. The use of positive affirmations and subliminal messages also help to replace our limiting beliefs with empowering ones. For some, hypnosis and neurolinguistic programming work for them.

In short, they are many methods to change our beliefs but you will only attract them into your life when you have decided to change your limiting beliefs. After all, that is how the universe works. You attract whatever you focus on.

The Hidden Dimension of Beliefs

One of the most misunderstood aspects of beliefs is that it is only about thoughts. The truth is beliefs are more than just thoughts. There is another dimension to it, which is emotion. A belief is a thought that is in tune with or resonate with an emotion. Both thought and emotion are in congruence, not in conflict.

A belief is therefore a thought with a lot of emotional investment in it. That is the source of its power. An empowering belief is a source of power for good while a limiting belief can be extremely destructive. That is why we must choose our beliefs carefully and consciously.

After all, whether you believe something to be true or not, you are right. Whether you believe you can or cannot, you are also right. That is the paradox of beliefs.

Dr. Tim Ong is a medical doctor who runs his own thriving medical practice. In his free time, he enjoys giving public talks, teaching meditation and offering his service to hospice work in the community. He also has keen interest in self improvement, mind science and spirituality. Dr. Ong is the webmaster of , and .


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