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  • Jenny Williamson

The Psychology of Belief


I have read numerous books written by professional counselors, therapists, and psychologists who specialize in human behavior and trauma. What I found greatly influenced my own life.

Your mind is the battlefield over which your emotions, actions, and reactions are produced. Your thoughts produce your emotions, which produce your choices, behaviors, and actions. It is so very simple. We act upon that which we believe, even if it's not true. This means that in order to change the way you feel, you must change the way you think, which ultimately changes how you choose to act. In other words, if you want to change your life, you have to change your thoughts.

I remember helping my boys with their 4th grade world history homework years ago. We laughed at the truths believed by the majority of people during Columbus' day, truths which influenced all their choices and behaviors.

  1. The world was flat, and if you tried to sail to the edge, you would fall off the edge.

  2. If you sailed near the equator, your skin would turn black.

  3. There was a great sea monster that would eat you alive if you sailed a certain distance from home.

We all laugh at those beliefs, now. They seem ridiculous. However, long ago many people believed and based their choices on these commonly held truths, despite the fact that they were completely false. Their beliefs produced an emotion -- fear, which caused them to make the choice to stay very close to home. Their false beliefs produced self-limiting behaviors that kept them from exploring the world and from their destiny. That is, until a man came along and courageously and publicly challenged the widely held "truth" of the day. He changed the world. And you can do exactly the same thing if you begin to examine, evaluate, and challenge your own truths.

As a ten year old, I had an experience that impacted me in a negative way. I call it the day when I stopped being me. When I was subjected to a principal's ridicule of my dreams and values, I felt I had done something terribly wrong; for the first time in my life, I felt embarrassed and humiliated. In that moment, I made a silent vow never to attempt anything that would cause me to feel those emotions again. That negative experience caused me to make an incorrect assumption. I was the embarrassment. There was something wrong with me. It was always myfault. Those emotions were so strong that I agreed with the assessment.

Did you catch that? I agreed. I had an experience that produced a thought or an assumption about the situation. Strong, negative emotions were produced that helped persuade me to come into agreement with that assumption. That agreement produced such a strong belief that whenever I thought about it, it produced those very same negative emotions that swayed my choices and behaviors. All this happened with lightning speed in my brain. My thoughts produced my emotions that ultimately influenced my will, my choices, and my behaviors.

When I agreed with the assessment, it became a belief that produced the very emotions I was running from: embarrassment and humiliation. I was embarrassed to be me. Unconsciously, I began a systematic reprogramming of myself. Those negative emotions influenced and produced self-limiting behaviors for most of my life because the belief was buried in my little girl's heart. It went unexamined for over thirty years. However, my behaviors betrayed the belief I had about myself. Soon, I had predictable and default behaviors ready to erupt during any potentially embarrassing situation. The lies and subsequent behaviors robbed me of my destiny for years -- if left unexamined, yours will, too.

As humans, we spend so much of our focus, time, and money on trying to change our behaviors. We try to lose weight, quit smoking, stop drinking, and more, but so many of our behaviors are typical symptoms of deep-rooted emotions that spring from false beliefs or lies implanted in us, typically during our childhood. I found when I began to examine my negative, unwanted behaviors, I could trace them all back to a lie or a label that someone bestowed upon me, or one I had bestowed upon myself. However, I discovered if I wanted to change a behavior, I first had to identity the feelings and negative beliefs associated with it. Then the behavior became easy to change by replacing the lie with the truth.

We must ask why. We must be authentically self-aware. We must be mindful of the stored experiences and the beliefs they produced that may not be true. The why of the belief is the key to change. It is the bull's-eye we must hit. My behaviors and emotions were easy to identify, but they cloaked the belief. To determine whether my beliefs were true or not, I had to consult my Creator. I made the decision that I was tired of living out of my default mode; I wanted to operate from design. It was a rigorous process that yielded great results in my life -- results that can be replicated in yours.

"Become what you believe." -- Jesus, Matthew 9:29 (MSG)

I find this statement by Jesus recorded by his disciple fascinating, because it confirms what psychologists are telling us. We will become what we believe.

But what is even more fascinating to me is that we can choose what to believe. We can believe a lie or we can believe truth. Either will produce emotions that will alter and/or affect our behavior. We have got to examine our beliefs and determine if they are truth or lies. First, let's make a vow. Let's commit from whom we will receive our truth. If you are ready, read the following aloud, then commit to this from here on out.

"Starting today, I am going to seek and believe only my Creator for the truth about me. For too long I have listened to the negative voices inside of me, and the ones from other people telling me who I am. God's words sound so much better. They are truly life giving. I am going to choose to believe them for my truth. I am a child of His and I will act like it. I will live and act out of that identity He has bestowed upon me."

I hope you will continue to embark on a journey of you. We are all unique and we all have a purpose. It's time to find yours! Email me at j.williamson@courageworldwide.org and share your journey with me.

Blessings,

Jenny Williamson

P.S. A good place to start your journey is to grab a few friends or group at your church (or go through it alone if you can't find anybody to join you). Dedicate yourselves to working through my workbook, Uniquely You. It will change your life and start you on new adventures you could never fathom. To order your copy, click HERE.

P.S.S. If you missed parts 1 and 2 of Beloved. Belong. Believe., click HERE.

How Belief Impacts Our Emotions and Actions

If you are interested in starting a journey of purpose for a small group you would like to host, contact Jenny directly at j.williamson@courageworldwide.com. She can help you get started. To order workbooks, go to Amazon.com.

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