What Is A Belief?


“Belief is the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case, with or without there being empirical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty.”


How Beliefs Are Formed

We have hundreds and thousands of thoughts going through our minds but a belief is a thought you have made to be real or you have accepted to be true. Beliefs are not based on fact, they are formed during our childhood and our formative years and come from subjective thoughts, generalisations, distortions, deletions, other people’s perceptions, about ourselves and the external world. So when we are adults, we see things, not as IT is, but as WE are. So in fact, our experiences are based on beliefs which are in reality other people’s perceptions, and our own generalisations which we have adopted while we are growing up.

These beliefs, both positive and self-limiting, then affect our behaviours in our life. Beliefs become our mental filters with which we interpret the external world.

We, as human beings are biologically designed to find meaning to events in our lives and these are stored in our memories at a cellular level. Events happen all the time that challenge or require us to use our beliefs, and as we have mentioned, a belief is only a thought and a thought is based on subjective perceptions. Perceptions can be wrong, which turns them into belief (or ‘inner truths’). Belief is another word for faith, opinion, or theory – whether that is your own belief or someone else’s. For example, consider how a limiting self-belief is formed below.

How A Child May Form A Limiting Self-Belief

Consider how a child could create a limiting self-belief:

Events happen all the time 

e.g. Mummy doesn’t give the child a hug when they wanted/needed one.

Energy follows thought 

e.g. Child may get a sensation in their tummy (butterflies) or legs may feel weak, eyes may sting.

Thought is perception 

e.g. Child does not have the necessary information, understanding, thinking or social skills to give attention to why Mummy didn’t give a hug. (Remember however, the strategies we learned as children are a form of instinct and survival so we can respond in possible dangerous or difficult situations. As the child is growing up, they are always making conscious and mostly unconscious choices based on their circumstances – they are always doing the best they can).

Perceptions can be wrong, which turns them into belief (or ‘inner truths’)  
e.g. the child may think because I didn’t get a hug, I’m not worth loving/I’m unworthy/I’m not good enough etc.
This process means that the child has formed a belief about why Mummy didn’t give them a hug.
Beliefs In Adulthood

As a child, we have created a whole belief system both consciously and unconsciously. However these outdated beliefs are totally inappropriate for succeeding in the real world as adults. So the adult with an outdated childhood belief that they are not good enough will show up in their behaviours which will make the belief true so it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  

As adults, we can choose to continue with the limiting belief or we can choose to think differently by using “positive affirmations” which are short positive statements targeted at a specific subconscious set of beliefs to challenge and undermine negative beliefs and to replace them with positive self-nurturing ones. We can begin to change the rules for our life because we know what we want better than anyone else.

In The Words Of Gandhi…

Our Beliefs become our Thoughts,
Our Thoughts become our Words,
Our Words become our Habits
Our Habits become our Values
Our Values become our Destiny

This highlights the importance of beliefs as being the first part of this sequence of events.

What’s Up Next?

Next up, on the theme of Emotional Literacy, I will be discussing how to manage emotions. For the next few weeks I will focus on different emotions and next week will be sadness. If you have anything specific you would like answered please get in touch before next week and I will include it in the next blog.

Sign Up For A Free Copy Of My Upcoming Book, “No Child Is Broken”
Click this link and leave your details to receive your free copy, which goes into detail about beliefs and how you can follow easy step-by-step lesson plans with your child to develop habits of Emotional Literacy. Thank you! 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *