Awesome Dude asks: “Why is it that regardless of how stupid, irrational, or ridiculous a thought seems, the brain thinks it’s real? Is it my emotion about it? Is my focus on it? Would the right way to handle it be to just ignore it, like a negative friend who is bugging you and whom you aren’t listening or reacting to?”
Our brains don’t mean to be such bastards. They weren’t designed to work against us. Much like your computer wasn’t designed to mess with you (*cough* *cough* Microsoft *cough*). Our minds operate much like computers do: there’s a basic operating system, and then some other software which gets installed on top of that. The operating system and software are like rules, which tell the computer what to do, how to respond to certain input, and what the output should be. If the output isn’t what you want, you’ve either made a mistake with the input (focused on the wrong damn thing) or you’ve got a bug in the software (a limiting belief).
Your subconscious mind
Your brain’s operating system is your subconscious mind. It’s full of old, ingrained, well-practiced beliefs that resulted from decisions you made early on in life or which you were taught to accept. You can consider these your core beliefs. If you try to run a new software program that contradicts the code in the Operating System, you’re not going to get the result you want. The Operating System will simply completely negate the new software. You can install the new program, but it will just refuse to work, no matter how much you curse at it or threaten to chuck it off your rooftop terrace into the traffic below (just kidding. I love my PC and my PC loves me. The PC that I’m typing this on, incidentally. We’re good, right? RIGHT? Smooshy hugs?)
For example: Let’s say you have a core belief that life has to be hard, but which you’re not aware of. You decide to use the Law of Attraction to manifest some more money. You visualize loads of money, see yourself happily rolling in it, see it coming to you easily. But because of that core belief, this new way of thinking (money coming to you easily) won’t take hold. In fact, by trying to overwrite it, you’re inadvertently triggering the underlying belief, causing a negative manifestation in the form of negative emotion. So, even though you’re doing your best to practice the new thought, your reality doesn’t change for the better. In fact, it can seem to get worse, as your emotions (the error messages) start to show you that there’s something you’re not dealing with. Suddenly you find yourself wanting to get angry at the littlest things. People with money annoy you to an irrational degree. You just want to slap them. But your feelings don’t seem to make sense. Why would focusing on something you want make you feel bad? Well, it wouldn’t, unless you have an underlying, bad feeling belief that directly contradicts the new thought (new software) you’re trying to install.
Your brain is kind of stupid, no offense
The problem is that your brain, in the way we’re talking about it here, wasn’t designed to make decisions. It sees the world in black and white, zeroes and ones, like a logical, opinion-less computer. When your brain seems to be sabotaging you, it’s really just following orders; orders which it received from you and which it blindly accepted. You see, your brain doesn’t judge. It trusts you. If you say that life has to be hard, it just believes you and begins to operate from that perspective. The belief that life is hard becomes part of that operating system. The pure mechanical part of the brain doesn’t have the ability to decide if a belief is good for you or not. Only you get to do that. Your brain is more like a faithful servant than a master (or adversary). And, believe it or not, it will blindly follow your orders, believing that doing so is always the best course of action. You see, your brain figures that you’re wise and know what you’re doing and that if you don’t like a belief you’ll just change it.
So you see, even if your mind is trying to sabotage you, it’s not doing so on purpose. It’s simply responding to the programming that’s been installed (by you and others).
Why would we install such ridiculous beliefs?
Now, you may be wondering why, if we can choose what programs to install, would we ever decide to adopt beliefs such as “Life is hard”, or “I’m not worthy” or “I am powerless”? Here’s the thing: First of all, most of us don’t know that we have the power to install different programs. And second, your core beliefs are installed at a time when you have a very limited perspective: your childhood. This doesn’t mean that you’re stupid at that age. It just means that points of view that will seem totally ridiculous later in life can make perfect sense to you as a child.
From the moment a baby is born, she interacts with the world and the people in it. Adults react to the baby, usually with laughter and smiles and loads of funny, happy sounds. As the child grows a bit older, she learns what is acceptable and what is not by watching the reactions of adults. If mommy makes a happy face, the action just taken was good. Mommy feels good. The child has permission to feel good. If mommy makes a frowny face or uses an admonishing tone, the action just taken was bad. Mommy doesn’t feel good and therefore the child doesn’t have permission to feel good. This is what we teach our children from day one. They quickly learn that the reactions of the people around them are directly related to them.
How core beliefs are formed
When the adults’ reactions match the child’s inner guidance (for example, if the adult is worried about the child touching the stove, and the child’s intuition is telling her that this is dangerous, as well), no limiting belief is formed. If the child, out of curiosity, touches the hot stove anyway, the adults’ former reaction will make even more sense. The adult was worried that it would hurt and it did. No belief needs to be formed, since no rule needs to be remembered. The child can simply trust their guidance system, which was right all along and touching the stove only served to prove it.
When, however, the adult’s reaction doesn’t match the child’s inner guidance, there’s a conflict, and a decision needs to be made. If, for example, an adult yells at a child for no good reason, simply because they’ve had a bad day, the child will be confused. She may have been playing happily, as she’d done on many occasions. Her guidance system was telling her this was good – it felt good, after all. And yet, it achieved a negative reaction. Something must be wrong. Now, because the child has a limited and very self-centered perspective, she won’t be able to see many of the possible explanations, such as, her daddy had a hard day at work and is stressed out. She’ll try to make sense of the reaction as it relates to herself, something she did. In the absence of obvious evidence that makes sense on an energetic level, the child will come to the only conclusion she can: there must be something wrong with the operating model. The child didn’t DO anything wrong. Therefore, the only way to explain the adult’s behavior is to come to the conclusion that the child herself must be broken somehow.
While one incident may not necessarily be enough to form a deeply held belief, it will get the ball rolling. The child is now unsure of her guidance system. Can she still trust it? She’s gotten feedback from a source she’s come to trust (her parent) that her intuition was wrong. She’s learned to value this feedback above her own (parents yell louder than intuition does). Her new belief, that she is broken, makes it more likely for her to come to the same conclusion the next time she’s faced with a situation that defies her intuition. And each time she makes that same decision, the belief becomes stronger and more practiced, until it finally becomes her default belief about herself.
Beliefs are just practiced thoughts
So, your brain is basically a blank slate that gets filled with all kinds of information by our well-meaning parents and teachers. A lot of that information is just great – you get exposed to all kinds of foods and textures and activities, you learn to communicate with language, you learn to ponder different ideas and you come to conclusions. In many cases, these adults will even help you come to better feeling conclusions by sharing their own, larger perspectives with you. But some of the information that’s been loaded into the old melon is just a load of crap. Some of the decisions you made about yourself, and some of the conclusions the adults shared with you simply don’t serve you. Of course, your intuition would tell you that, but then you’ve been taught not to listen to that old thing.
The good news is that these conclusions you came to, these decisions you made, can be changed. You get to change your mind. Beliefs are simply thoughts you’ve practiced over and over again. If you practice a new thought, you can change your operating system and your brain can start to run a program that helps you get what you want instead of sabotaging it. The key is to use a new belief that has the power to overwrite the old one. As you saw in my previous example, the thought “I make money easily” couldn’t contradict the core belief that “Life is hard”.
Overwriting core beliefs
If you want to overwrite a core belief, you’ll have to first find out what the actual belief is. Note that you do not have to find out how that belief was formed (it can be helpful in some cases, but isn’t strictly necessary and often not even possible.) Let’s say that you’ve identified “Life is hard.”
Step 1: Find the goal belief – a positive belief that directly contradicts the limiting belief you hold. You’ll know it when you find it. Many people have an actual physical sensation (like a whoosh in their stomachs, or goose bumps), but some just know. You have to use some trial and error. For example, “Life is easy” might not resonate as much as “Life is Fun!” If you’re not sure what the goal belief should be, don’t worry. You can always fine tune and change it as you go through the process.
Step 2: Use the vibrational ladder technique to incrementally and gently work your way from the current limiting belief to the better feeling one. You can read all about it here: The Vibrational Ladder – How To Feel Better In 4 Simple Steps. If that doesn’t work, read What To Do When the Vibrational Ladder Doesn’t Work. That’s right, my blog posts now have backup plans. Because I care, dammit.
Step 3: Look for evidence that supports your goal belief that life is easy (or fun, or whatever). For example, are there people in the world who have easy lives? Is everyone’s life hard? Remember that the mind thinks in black and white. Beliefs are absolute. Life is either hard or it isn’t. A limiting belief is either ALWAYS true or not. Period. So, if you can gather evidence that contradicts the belief, it has to crumble. The key to this exercise is that you have to focus on the positive evidence for more than just a couple of seconds. Most people, when faced with this task, will spend about 20 seconds focusing on the contradictory evidence and then give up. They’ll quit before they actually feel better. Stick with it for a couple of minutes and you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel. Now, a couple of minutes can seem like a long time when you’re uncomfortable, but trust me on this: it’s worth it.
Step 4: Practice those new, better feeling thoughts until they become your default response. It takes time to ingrain a belief. It won’t take years, but don’t expect to create new neural pathways in an afternoon (ok you can create them, but they won’t become ingrained enough to beat out the old ones). The more you practice the new belief, the easier it will be to think, and the faster it will take hold fully in your mind. And then, you’ll suddenly notice that it’s become your default reaction. Life will seem easy and fun to you. Money and love will come to you with no effort. Your brain will automatically be looking for evidence to support your new belief, just as it did with the old one, inadvertently and effortlessly strengthening it further.
Does it take years to overcome old beliefs?
A lot of people worry that old beliefs that have decades of evidence in their favor may take just as long to overwrite as they did to form. I’m happy to say that this fear is totally unfounded. Here’s why: Limiting beliefs go against our natural guidance system. They disagree with the ultimate code – the code of Who We Really Are (WWRA code) or Soul code, if you will. In computer speak, this would be like your BIOS (basic program that runs underneath the operating system). While this program can’t just overwrite contradictory software, it can throw up a whole lot of errors, letting you know that something is wrong. And because it’s part of the BIOS, any contradictory beliefs in the operating system can’t just overwrite this WWRA code. In fact, NOTHING can overwrite this Soul code. You can click away the error messages (that would be denial), but you can’t change this program.
When we overwrite a belief that contradicts the WWRA code with one that matches it (or matches it more closely), the WWRA program supports this process. It’s much harder to install a belief that contradicts this Soul code than one that matches it. While a little bit of effort is required in the beginning, the WWRA program soon takes over.
So, while it may have had a belief of powerlessness for years, you could completely negate it within a matter of weeks.
Your brain will follow the beliefs you’ve installed (whether you knew that you were installing them or not), not matter if they serve you or not. And it will allow you to install any belief you like providing you know how. It doesn’t judge the validity of a belief. It simply installs the code. If the belief you’re installing isn’t negated by some other program, your brain accepts it. This, it has to be said, is the ultimate free will. We are so free, we get to believe any crap we like. Or not. 🙂
Was this analogy helpful to you? What kinds of programs are you running that you’d like to overwrite?