If you’ve ever used a smartphone or tablet, you know about apps — analogy for apps is your belief system, the programming that runs the way you think, feel and do.
Occasionally, developers issue upgrades to remove bugs or improve functionality of apps. Often I find such upgrades accumulating, waiting for me to get around to installing them. In a similar way, it’s important for us to upgrade our beliefs, to better deal with reality and improve ourselves. Unfortunately, most of us fail to upgrade our beliefs for long periods of time, if not our entire lives.
Why is this? Why do we cling to the beliefs we’re taught as young children as if they provide us any real security or could stop change? What fear-belief is behind this conservative tendency? Why does our culture stifle free thinking and promote mindless conformity (in the form of “strong convictions”)? Imagine if the developer of an app in your phone told you that it must never change, no matter how much human knowledge or your brain had evolved!
Beliefs form the building blocks of your mind’s central operating system. Every thought, every feeling, every decision and every action you take is based on a substrata of beliefs that are running — a “belief system” that was installed long ago when you were totally dependent and too young to think for yourself.
We downloaded beliefs from parents, teachers and peers as well as early interpretations of experiences. Although learning to think for oneself is a stated goal, the most lasting impact of education is the installation of beliefs — many of them based on theories and superstitions that we accepted as ‘truth.’ When you were young and vulnerable, you had a vital need to make sense of things — if only to feel safe — but it’s highly likely that you were taught to believe in things that are not true, including ideas about yourself.
The important question now is: How aware are you of your beliefs, especially your fears? We can so vigorously defend against our fears that we unwittingly lock ourselves into the beliefs that lie behind them. That’s why it’s so important to upgrade the apps of your mind!
Beliefs are a limiting factor in getting what you want. More than any other mental structure, your beliefs and the attitudes that derive from them almost define what is possible for you. To become aware of what you believe — including your philosophy about life and yourself — is a central and very useful aspect of self-knowledge. As we grow and expand we need to notice our beliefs in action and be willing to revise or upgrade them. It’s wise, therefore, to test everything you believe and consciously decide whether your current beliefs pass two critical tests: Are they 1) really true and 2) helping or hindering you with regard to your highest desires? If not, it’s time to do some learning and formulate new conclusions.
A skillful way to look at beliefs is to consider them as your current operating assumptions, rather than ‘facts’ or articles of faith you must cling to. They should work for you, not the other way around! Ultimately, we are responsible for choosing our beliefs. It’s a decision, so choose wisely … and be sure to upgrade!