I was listening to the radio recently and heard Ryan Vogelsong, pitcher for the World Series champs S.F. Giants tell a cool story. He shared how he was complaining about some of their friends to his wife one morning saying, “ They don’t seem to be happy about their lives.” She replied to him with, “ Ryan, not everyone gets to experience their childhood dreams, like you did and still do.” He was humbled by what she said, and became more compassionate for others and more appreciative of the life he has. What I got most from his interview was that he never lost faith in his dream and always “believed” he would one day pitch in the series.
I felt inspired by what he said but even more, I started reflecting on my own dreams I achieved, some I still am inspired to realize, and all of the blessings in my life. I also reminded myself that there are many ways to create happiness and it’s of course not just about realizing childhood dreams. I also felt happy for Ryan, because like most kids, we do dream of being ball players, rock stars, parents and world leaders and his was to win a baseball world series, and he did!!!! What a thrill, and how surreal a moment that must have been for him.
Take a moment today and ask yourself what this story activates in you.
Your Reality-Making Blueprint
The Encarta dictionary defines “belief” as the “acceptance by the mind that something is true or real, often underpinned by an emotional or spiritual sense of certainty.” This definition highlights the multi-dimensional nature of beliefs, which engage all aspects of who you are: mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, to name the most obvious. It is this multi-dimensional nature of beliefs, and the fact that they live within you on so many levels, that make them so powerful and so important to understand. Begin to understand beliefs for what they are and you will naturally begin to see where they live. Then you can begin to “get a grip” on the intricate control panel known as your belief system.
Beliefs are literally the lens through which you view the world. They can:
- influence your perceptions
- define for you what is good, bad, true, real and possible
- skew your perspective in positive or negative ways
- direct and/or limit the actions you take
- shape your character
- affect your relationships
- establish a specific course you will follow
- determine your health
- harness or hijack your passion
- lower or raise your level of happiness
Each of us lives within and operates out of a complex set of beliefs that define us and the world in which we live. Beliefs are our reality-making blueprint—the way in which we process the flood of information that comes in through our five major sense organs every single moment of every single day. Your beliefs organize the world for you. Without them to help you interpret the massive dose of stimuli that comes at you on a daily basis, you would be on overwhelmed the minute you open your eyes in the morning.
That which we believe to be true, we tend to then perceive and experience as being true. We rarely call our beliefs into question, which is why they tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies. As long as beliefs remain unchallenged, they shape your perceptions and direct your actions at a subliminal or subconscious level. Your fate is more or less sealed—or, to be more accurate, your reality-making process is governed by your beliefs. Fortunately, each moment holds the potential to break the spell an unconscious belief may have cast over you.
James Allen, author of As a Man Thinketh wrote: “Belief always precedes action.” Since your beliefs determine not only if but how you take action, positive beliefs are more likely to foster actions and attitudes that attract positive outcomes. Likewise, negative beliefs are likely to foster attitudes and actions—or inaction, as the case may be—that run contrary to your desires or stated goals. The second scenario is the causal factor for many people whose dreams have yet to materialize.
The fact that we often do not question negative beliefs and accept them as the way things are makes them particularly noxious. I coined the term viral beliefs to drive this point home. Viral beliefs are similar in many ways to the parasitic viruses that inhabit and occasionally sicken your body. They can be extremely poisonous, and they can lay dormant until some external factor or emotional trigger causes them to become active again. Viral beliefs can also spread from one person to the next in a highly contagious fashion.
The good news is: no matter what has happened to you in the past, your course is not predetermined. Fate has not left you out in the cold, and the life you desire is just around the corner once you tweak the belief system that governs your reality-making process. Before we launch that particular mission, however, let’s take a deeper look at how beliefs come into existence in the first place.
Who Makes This Stuff Up?
It’s not a trick question, although the answer can turn you into a trickster. In the Native American tradition, the trickster is that one who breaks the rules to stir things up for a positive effect. This is the power you gain once you learn how to investigate the who-and-what that created your beliefs in the first place. Unexamined beliefs operate within you as fairly rigid “rules of reality.” Examined beliefs are far more adaptive; they allow you to bend the rules and even change them as reality unfolds.
We are all tattooed in our cradles with the beliefs of our tribe; the record may seem superficial, but it is indelible. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
Many of your beliefs, positive and negative, are hand-me-downs you inherited from your family, community and culture. You are conditioned by certain attitudes, mindsets, and ways of interpreting reality that worked for those who came before. The good news is, your ancestors survived. The bad news is, they may have done so on the basis of partial information or inaccurate points of view. Regardless of their validity, these beliefs are conditioned into you during formative years long before you are able to understand much less question them. These are best understood as collective beliefs. You did not make them up and they are not specific to you, and yet they do shape your experience of yourself and “the way life is.” Some are idiosyncratic to a particular ethnic group, geographic area, historical period, or religion. One example is the notion that the world is flat; belief in “original sin” is another. Some of these inherited beliefs take shape as superstition and govern specific behaviors. For example, I was brought up to believe in two particularly strong assertions that turn out to be utterly untrue: 1) if you step over someone, s/he will not grow, and 2) if you put your shoes anywhere but on the floor, your feet will burn. To this day, the very thought of putting my shoes anywhere but on the floor gives me the willies!
We also have more individualized beliefs that have their genesis in traumatic events. Viral beliefs can be formed when an experience has high-voltage emotional impact and is therefore difficult to fully feel and release. The unprocessed emotional residue remains in the body as somatic memory, emotional stress, energy blocks and physical tension; these can influence a person on many levels by establishing patterns of thinking and/or behavior that persist. In this way, past trauma gets superimposed on the present and is subliminally re-experienced over and over again.
One client was humiliated in front of his community by a baseball coach who shouted, “You’re worthless!” when the boy struck out. The incident infected the boy with a viral belief that held: I‘m no good for the team. This thought got absorbed into his subjective reality and became defining for him. As an adult he had tremendous difficulty whenever required to present his ideas to a committee or work group.
It is the emotional impact of such experiences that causes them to take up residence in our body-mind as beliefs about the world and our place in it. Such limiting beliefs grow and mature with us. When we face similar challenges later, the virus becomes active and dictates how we think, feel, and behave.Incident after incident in childhood transfers these messages to us at defining moments.
The Enthusiasm Thief: “I Want, But…”
In sessions and seminars I always ask people what they really want in life and invite them to articulate the dreams they would pursue if time and money were not an obstacle. With genuine excitement, they begin to put their heart’s desire into words. The dream might be of buying a home, starting a business, finding a mate, writing the great American novel, or scoring a screenplay. Of course, some people have fleshed their dreams out more than others, and some people are more realistic than others. For the purpose of this discussion, “fleshed out” and “realistic” are neither here nor there. What does show up here and, as a consequence, there—meaning in the field of all possibility where our highest dreams lay in wait—is a subtle form of terror. That may sound strong, and yet I have seen this happen time and time again. A man expresses his dream and within a matter of seconds his posture starts to shift and he shrinks a bit. A woman’s face lights up as she puts her deep desire into words; no sooner than the utterance leaves her lips the enthusiasm drains from her face.
What just happened?
A person expands to embrace a larger life, and then s/he immediately contracts. This shrinking, pulling back response is so widespread that we could call it a syndrome. For example, a man might say, “I want to buy a house,” or “I want to start my own company.” As he expresses his desire, he feels a flood of excitement and an increase in his energy because he has tapped into his desire. This then triggers a cascade of viral beliefs that get in the way of his fulfilling that desire. That tug of resistance causes a loss of confidence that is linked to feelings of fear and resignation located in his body. He doesn’t think any of this through, it just happens. His mouth opens and out comes a self-defeating statement that begins with “but...” and is followed by any one of many reasons why he cannot go after his dream. I call this “I want, but…” syndrome the Enthusiasm Thief.
Like those annoying pop-ups on the Internet, the Enthusiasm Thief jumps onto the screen of your mind uninvited. The Enthusiasm Thief is held in place by viral beliefs that squelch your excitement by generating excuses, “buts” and “what-ifs.” Every time this happens your positive energy is drained off and the viral belief is reinforced. Rather than arrest the thief, you give it more of your life power and more power over your life.
Here are some common examples:
- I want a new home, but I don’t deserve it/ there’s nothing affordable.
- I want to write a book, but no one will read it/ it takes too much time.
- I want to be a singer, but I’m not talented enough/ I’m too old to change careers.
- I want a lot of money, but it’s sinful/selfish to want it/ I’m not good with money.
- I want to be in love, but I’m afraid to be hurt again/ I’m not attractive enough.
- I want to start a business,but it’s too risky/ there’s too much competition.
Do any of those ring familiar? Any gulps or body tinges while reading them? Later in the chapter you’ll have the opportunity to explore your own “buts” and put them away for good.
When one is young one sees dreamsbased on our environment. A child's exposure to the kind of subjects gives him the dreaming wings to fly but it is for sure that the child's dreams always revolve around playful happiness. As one grows the meaning keeps getting translated into reality and the rudder of the life's ship keeps getting course corrections to achieve the desired.Therefore, a childhood dream keeps getting modified with passage of time and at the end one achieves what he sows. Dreams are thus, to be studied, analysed, weighed, correlated, interpreted, acted upon to achieve success and enjoy the bliss for further dreaming. Dream, but with care, caution, based on reality to have life coated with sweetness of success
“It was only a dream” is something that has been said to many people over many of the un-achieved dreams in life. The reality is that almost everyone has a dream to do something, be something, or achieve something they hold dear to their heart. Some people call it a “bucket list” others think of it more as a career goal or personal goal or more of a lifestyle goal however almost everyone has dreams. With so many people having dreams you’d think that everyone you know would be knocking these off the list. But in reality, how many people do you know that have achieved their dreams?
A recent study by Harvard University showed that less then 2% of people ever reach their dreams. The study didn’t go into why but I would suggest few people ever reach their dreams for the simple fact they are not willing to make the sacrifices needed to achieve their dreams.
Dream accomplished, Tour of Harvard University
Anyone who’s around me for more then a week will hear me say “You have to give up to go up” and when it comes to dreams you’re going to have to give up alot to achieve your dreams in life. The joy you get from the dream you realize will be the price you paid for it. The bigger the dream the higher the price and the better the reward. Before you reach for the stars you better take a hard look at your scars because with every great dream accomplished their will be a tremendous amount of scars and sacrifices along the way. This should be “accepted” in business and in life. If you think about the Olympics, you will never find an Olympic gold medalist that said it was easy or that it just came to them. The road to the gold is paved with blood, sweat and tears. The reality is that I think Olympians have an advantage because they know its going to be tremendously difficult if not impossible to accomplish and they are willing to struggle with all their might to achieve their dream. The common person has the same will but not the same expectations of the sacrifice needed to achieve their dream and they fall short because they never knew how hard it would be.
If someone told you that “Your dream is on top of that mountain and when you get to the top you will achieve your dream” almost everyone would go for it as you know what will happen if you pay the price.