Monday, April 12, 2010

Believe This!

"Belief is Power. The power to create. We create our reality simply by what we agree to believe.”
Ray Dodd, The Power of Belief

Beliefs are powerful and life enhancingly important. Beliefs, attitudes and values organise your behaviour and direct most aspects of your life and psychology. As Henry Ford said “whether you believe you can, or believe you can’t, either way you’re right”.

Another way of putting it is that ‘Achieving starts with believing!”. So it’s important to understand how beliefs work and then choose empowering and well-formed beliefs that serve you to enhance your life delightfully and wondrously.

Beliefs also largely set or constrain your freedom -- freedom to think, feel and act. So as part of our ongoing exploration of freedom, we'll take a short detour into beliefs and the underlying process of believing. Today's blog will be the first of a two part journey into believing.

So what are 'beliefs'?

Beliefs are generalisations or rules that you’ve come to accept as true about yourself and the world. Beliefs show up as stereotypes, prejudices and mindsets. A large number of your beliefs and attitudes are outside your conscious awareness. It takes work and insight to bring them to conscious consideration. There’s much research to show that large differences can exist between your espoused or conscious beliefs and your operating beliefs, your ‘beliefs-in-action’. This is the crucial difference between what you say and what you actually do.

Why aren't we taught this?

Given the importance and power of beliefs, you’d think it would be something you’d be taught at school, something that society would encourage and educate deeply about. But I bet you've never had a class called ‘Empowering Beliefs 101’. Well, let’s remedy that here and now.

Since knowledge is power, let’s learn about the process of generating and changing 'beliefs' and how the process of believing influences your unconscious mind and the minds of others. Let's examine your limiting and negative beliefs and mindsets and provide you with an NLP technique you can use to install success strategies for tracking and overcoming self-imposed limitations and replacing them with wondrous and supportive beliefs and attitudes. Sound useful and interesting?

Beliefs 101

One of the first things to understand about beliefs is they don’t actually exist! Yes, that’s right. You’ve never seen a belief. Ever. You’ve only ever seen the process or behaviour of believing. Think about it.

In NLP, the word ‘belief’ is what’s called a nominalisation. A nominalisation is a verb, or doing word, that has been turned into a noun, turned into an object or ‘thing’. Language is powerful. It’s how you do most of your thinking, your communicating. It’s how you organise, filter and make sense of your world. It’s a very powerful representational system. And like any powerful system, can be used appropriately or misused.

We typically use nominalisations to fix an ongoing process into a static object so we can get a handle on it, to talk about it. But in doing this, we distort our reality and if we’re not careful we end up mistaking our map for the territory. This distorting can lead to un-sane (not totally sane) thinking and behaviour, creating problems in our lives.

Belief as a disguised verb

Since beliefs are NOT objects, we don’thave’ beliefs. Instead, we do a process of believing, and this process for most people is done outside of conscious awareness. It’s done with unconscious competence. You can’t hold a belief in your hand, or sit it on the table; you can’t go buy one from the shopping mall. So you don't have beliefs, instead you really do the process of believing (or disbelieving). And this process is a skill and has a structure.

How do we do the process of believing?

The process of believing involves forming generalisations from experience or learning them from other people, from society, family and friends. NLP has shown that when you ‘believe’ a generalisation, you unconsciously use a set of submodalities with it. Remember, submodalities are the sub-components of each of your sensory modalities. For example, visual submodalities are elements in your internal visual experience such as how close your pictures are, what size they are, where they are located in your visual field, whether they are focused, black and white, colored etc.

Let’s do a practical demonstration of this. Think of something you strongly believe in or that's an important 'belief' for you, and picture it or some representation of it in your mind’s eye. Notice the submodalities of the picture. How big is the picture, where is it in space, how far is it from you, is it coloured or black-and-white? How clear or focused is it?

Now, think of something you don’t believe and notice the submodalities of this. You’ll find some very big differences between the submodalities of what you believe and what you don’t believe.

Now just for the moment, perform this experiment. Take the image of what you believe strongly and shift the picture to have the same submodalities (size, position, distance, colours, focus etc.) of the thing you don’t believe. Now notice your subjective experience. If you’ve accurately changed the submodalities, you’ll typically find that it no longer seems quite so believable. Even though the content of the image is the same, when you picture it with different submodalities, it changes how you think and feel about the belief. It changes how you are ‘believing’ the generalisation that you are picturing. [Now make sure you put the belief back to where it belongs, back to it's original set of submodalities.]

How amazing is that! It’s so so simple to change a belief… to change ‘how’ you are believing.

What can you do with this?

Ok, so what can you do with this knowledge? Well, for a start you can begin to become aware of the submodalities of your various 'beliefs' -- how you are doing believing of the generalisations that organise your mind, perceptions and ultimately your life.

You can then consciously choose which beliefs support you and which you want to change or replace to enhance your freedom and your life.

Changing and revaluing beliefs is simple and powerful and one of the most fundamental processes you can do to enhance your life.

In next week's blog entry we'll explore typical negative and disempowering beliefs gleaned from the field of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and provide you with a powerful NLP technique for installing new more empowering beliefs.

So until then, start noticing 'how' you are believing. Increase your focus and awareness on the submodalities of your internal processing. Submodalities are how your unconscious mind encodes meaningfulness and are key components of the operating system of your mind. Explore them and play with them.

Believe this, you are truly free when you are able to control and master your submodalities and your processes of believing.

wishing you life enhancing believing,
smiles, Grant

Using Your Brain - For a Change: NLP - Richard Bandler

Change Your Mind-And Keep the Change : Advanced NLP Submodalities Interventions

Belief Busting with NLP Unpacked (Audio CD)


  1. Love that Henry Ford quote!

    Very core element here. The stated and unstated premise to many of these excellent blog subjects is control (control of one's life, outcomes, etc.), and for sure BELIEF precedes control in any action toward achievement.

    -- Sully

  2. Hi Grant
    Thank you... another great life enhancing entry.
    Very elegant, succinct and a golden life lesson to boot.

    I have often thought about the process of nominalisation, and in a sense that word has been nominalised in its own right. Not at all descriptive of the process, hence my new (revived) word "NOUN-ALISING" as it IS a process of taking a verb and freezing it into a stillness and a literal suspended animation of the original verb.

    And until one frees that life by simply doing your elegant and simple process thereby breathing that life back into 'it' again.

    Apparently the American natives are said to not have called a chair as "chair", but to refer to that entity as "chairing", recognising the life energy presenting itself as we perceive it as a chair for this moment in time.

    Cheers Glenn.S

  3. Hi Sully & Glenn,

    Thanks muchly for your insightful comments.

    Yes, I believe that control mastery is at the heart of Life Enhancing, so control is definitely a thread that runs through my many blog posts. And you are so right, belief is a precursor to control. If you believe you 'have' no control, then surely you will not congruently do competent controlling.

    And yes, Glenn, love the 'NOUN-ALISING', it's a great way to direct your focus and awareness on this crucial process. I've also heard (and read) that Hopi Indians wording for a water-fall (for example) is 'water-falling'. They don't do the process of noun-alising in their languaging and therefore in their underlying cognising.

    I do my utmost to language and experience my world in the verbing form. I'll be blogging a lot more about this and about the effects of verbs vs nouns in the brain.

    Thanks again for the great comments and thoughts guys. I appreciate the sharing and connecting.

    smilings, Granting


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