Did you ever notice that the people who never get sick seem to always say
I never get sick," while the ones who always get sick are always to be found saying "I always get sick"?. And how about those "lucky" people? They tend to be the ones always saying how lucky they are. Think about athletes who get injured and then make a huge comeback, often winning, despite other' disbelief and discouragement, or cancer patients who "beat the odds" because they so strongly believe that they can. How does this happen? These are real people, just like you and me, who become exceptional when they choose beliefs that serve their greater good, just like you and me.
Hmmmm...What do I believe?
It sounds like an easy-enough question to ask yourself, doesn't it? You might easily answer, "I believe that I always get colds; that dogs are mean; and that it's very easy for me to find parking spots."
But do you believe that you always get colds and find parking spots based on the experiences you've had? Or do you, actually, get colds all the time, find dogs to be frightening, and effortlessly find parking spots (to your friends' total disbelief and amazement) because you have these beliefs? In other words, ask yourself: Are my beliefs shaped by my experiences, or do I experience what I believe? Does it even matter?
Yes!!! You see, if you listen between the lines, you'll realize that asking what you believe leads to that other all-important question: "Does how I believe have anything to do with how I experience the world?" And since it does, how you answer that question has the power to change your life. With that one answer, you can choose to either give up control over your life or take control.
If you believe that your experiences determine your beliefs - as most of us are taught to do so from the start - you keep yourself disempowered, living your life reactively and at the mercy of outside forces creating your experiences. You basically allow yourself to be a helpless victim of what life throws at you, because you believe that you are. This is great if you just like to have lots of places to point your blaming finger at when you don't like the way your life is going, but, frankly, it does nothing to help you achieve real happiness and fulfillment.
However, if you believe that your beliefs come before your experiences, all you need to do to change your experiences is to change your beliefs about them. That's very exciting! This way, you choose to live your life proactively, and you create the forces shaping your experiences. You'll notice that this also throws blame right out the window. To be realistic, that's not something we're used to in our culture of lawsuits and "It's His or Her Fault" talk shows. The good news, however, is that although you're now going to take credit for the lousy things in your life, you can also now take real credit for the fantastic things you create in your life. And since you can create whatever it is that you choose to create, there's nothing stopping you from choosing to make the lousy things better, or even extraordinary.
If the way that you're experiencing the world isn't serving you in some way, if you don't like how things are going, change your beliefs and watch the world change around you. It's that simple, and ANYONE can do it. With practice, it becomes second nature. The world is a reflection of you. Go ahead and write that down on a sticky-note and post it on your bathroom mirror!
Case history: Ms. I-always-meet-the-wrong-guys
Here's a little story I bet most of us can relate to in more ways than one.
I recently went on a date with Catherine, a super-successful, intelligent, busy, very beautiful woman, who, at only 36, has two of her own businesses. And this woman-who-seems-to-have-it-all was dejectedly telling me that her experience was that she "always meets the wrong guys." (I guess she was hoping I was an exception? Anyway...)
So, being the metaphysical guy that I am, I asked her the magic question: "What belief might someone have in order to experience meeting the wrong guys all the time?" (I firmly believe, as you can tell by now, that beliefs precede experience.)
And she told me, I don't trust anybody."
Trying to get to the bottom of her problem - the underlying core belief - continued, asking her, "What other belief might someone have in order to experience meeting the wrong guys?"
And she was almost at the point where she didn't want to answer. "I don't know, Vic. I'm tired..." she said under her breath, looking around the sushi bar and ready to change the subject. Suddenly she turned around and blurted,
I just want to be alone."
I said, "Ah, so you really wish to be alone... Let me get this straight, you get involved with a guy, but then you hit a point, and you just detach yourself, right?"
Catherine nodded "Yes."
"So," I said, "the reason why you meet these wrong guys is because you actually want to be alone. You subconsciously seek to attract the wrong guys, you proceed to dump them, and then, presto, you're alone. You get exactly what you wished for; you get exactly what you say you believe!" At first she didn't think it could be that easy, but ain't that the truth for ya!
"You say you want to be alone," I continued, "but then you're also telling me that you want to be with somebody - somebody to whom you're attracted, who doesn't nag, has his own life and doesn't jump right into your life, and doesn't get all needy." I pushed her a little further: "But do you really want to be alone?"
She sighed like there was no avoiding this anymore and said, "Well, I do want to be alone. But then there's a part of me that doesn't want to be alone...." She shook her head at her own contradiction.
"What belief might someone have in order to experience an ambivalence about being alone?" I said.
I could see the big "Aha!" spread across her face and then she stated flatly, "If I'm not with anybody then I am nothing." Remember, this was coming from a woman who has everything she has strived for, who is very much "somebody" in and of herself.
Then I asked her, "How is that belief obtained?"
She stared at me not knowing exactly what I meant, or maybe even glared a little - the way that people do when they know they're about to get to the bottom of something they've been sweeping under the rug for way too long.
So I explained, "You see, beliefs are adopted in one of three different ways: 1) Beliefs can be deliberately created, irrespective of any prior experiences, as in someone deciding, "I now choose to believe I have good luck," and the person starts to experience good luck. 2) Beliefs can be indoctrinated. For instance, Scott's mother said he'd never amount to anything, so that is what he believes and that is what he experiences. Most people, mind you, are products of their parents" beliefs. They are carrying around their parents' outdated and inaccurate beliefs like a big sack of potatoes! In this way, the experiences of the father and mother become the beliefs of their sons and daughters. The cycle goes on and on. 3) Beliefs can form out of resistance to another person's beliefs. Take my imaginary friend Danny, for example, You'll never amount to anything," his dad constantly mutters, but Danny becomes the president of the U.S. Danny attempts this and succeeds not so much because he always wanted to president but rather because he chose to fervently resist what his dad believed about him. I'm sure you can think of times when you did something, for better or worse, just to prove someone wrong."
Catherine looked away for a minute and stared at the sushi chef slicing up tuna at breakneck speed.
"That's my mother's belief," she finally answered.
I touched her hand sincerely and said, "Okay, you want to be alone but you don't want to be alone, so you wind up being upset when you're alone and upset when you're not."
She explained to me how she always winds up staying with someone even if from the get-go her gut tells her that it's not right or not worth it. So this is really messed up for her, she complained: she wants to be alone, she wants time to herself, but she's got this indoctrinated belief from her mother rumbling around in her head that she's nothing unless she's with somebody. She's experiencing this real ambivalence.
(Can you think of cases such as this in your life? Your gut tells you one thing, your mom's or dad's or teacher's voice screaming the opposite in your head? Who do you listen to? Yourself or your mom? How old are you, anyway?... Exactly!)
So I asked her, "Do you wish to arm yourself with someone else's beliefs, beliefs which are NOT serving you, and are causing you dis-ease? Or, do you now choose to create a belief that it's okay to be alone, and that you are something even if you are alone?"
And Catherine replied with an increasing smile, "Well, Vic, that sounds easy enough. I think I could do that."
I know that she still seemed somewhat skeptical - after all, all of this is not only new to most people, but it's so powerful despite its simplicity. Maybe she holds the belief that it's too good to be true - but I sure hope not, because if she does, that will be her experience. So, if I can give you and her any advice at all, never ever believe that something is too good to be true. Believe that if something is good it must be true!
The moral of the story is that life is a product of your beliefs. After all, everything you think or say is a belief. That's right, everything! There's no such thing as a fact. So, your perspective on the relationship between your beliefs and your experiences has everything to do with how you experience your life, i.e. the combination of events and being that your reality consists of. The funny thing is, even if you did believe that your experiences precede your beliefs, even that would be just a belief! As Harry Palmer says, "You experience what you believe, unless you believe you won't, in which case you don't, which means you did."
If that made your head spin, don't worry. The bottom line is that everything is a belief, and that's great to know, because that means you have the power to change anything. Talk about unlimited potential! And every one of us has it. You can choose to believe anything, and so you can change anything/have anything/be anything/do anything you choose.
So if we do create our reality by our beliefs, why don't we always experience it that way? The answer is time. Like a boomerang returning to its origin place, it takes time for the energies we send out to the universe to come back to us. The interim of passing time gives the illusion that an experience we are having is somehow separate from the belief that created it. During the passing time, it seems like the world is happening to us, instead of us happening to the world. This is how a person sees him- or herself as a result of the world, perceiving him- or herself to be a victim. We forget that we threw the boomerang in the first place and we don't see that that created our experience.
Picture this: we are like satellites sending out signals every moment of our existence through our thoughts, words and actions. These signals get sent out into the ether and attract like signals. We call these like signals our "experiences." These experiences which return to us are nothing more than a reflection of our own beliefs. So what you are being, you are creating. Your beliefs manifest your reality in physical form.
Faith is the most important element involved in the recipe for creation. Take a look at everything you see in your surroundings. It was once a thought in someone's mind, invested with enough faith and time to create it in their reality. The formula for all creation is intention + attention = creation. Many people have incredible ideas but lack the faith to manifest them into their lives. You must supply enough attention to your dreams to make them real. Faith is the glue that connects all of your attention particles and makes them come alive!
Take a look at some of the world's greatest creators, Thomas Edison, Jesus Christ, Copernicus, The Buddha, Moses, Albert Einstein, Harriet Tubman. They all created without having had prior experience. Each had no previous evidence to prove their beliefs true. Faith is the common denominator in their beliefs becoming their reality. The level of one's conviction is the level of one's creation. Conviction means that all doubts have been overcome.
Life is a choice for each and everyone of us. Ask yourself: "Do I wish to live my life as a fully creative being, or do I wish to live my life as a fully reactive being?" If you allow yourself to view yourself as someone whose experiences are creating his or her beliefs, you are living defensively spiraling your way backwards towards the past. You are powerless to change your reality. How, if you allow yourself to be someone whose beliefs are creating his or her experiences, then your living your life proactively. You are as powerful as you believe yourself to be. It's victim versus victor. How do you believe?