Three Truths About Beliefs
1. They are powerful. Even though we may not even be consciously aware of our actual beliefs, they are the basis of the choices we make, the meanings we assign and our behavioral responses to the people, situations and circumstances we encounter.
2. Their power is not dependent on their being valid. We might keep this in mind during heated election seasons. The belief that “all Democrats or Republicans are (FILL IN THE BLANK) “ is invalid. But that doesn’t change its impact on the things we think and say about, and behaviors toward those “others”. The victim belief contributes to the breakdown in civil political discourse and meaningful legislative decision-making.
3. Professed vs. actual beliefs – Professed beliefs are expressed in words and usually sound good. Actual beliefs may never be written or uttered, and they are expressed in behavior. There are often significant gaps between the things we profess to believe and our actual beliefs that manifest in our behavior.
The Belief that Fuels the Hero Perspective
My feelings are the emotional consequences of the mental choices I make about the hands I’m dealt.
Compare this to the belief that fuels the victim perspective. My feelings are the emotional consequences of the hands I’m dealt.
The victim perspective is based on the belief that our feelings are caused by factors over which we have no control. That belief, while invalid, leads us to make limiting choices. We ignore our roles in creating the drama and suffering we endure while blaming it on the people, situations and circumstances in our lives. Hey, it’s easier to be a victim!
Cause and Effect
The victim belief holds that events cause our feelings. According to that belief, our feelings are the spontaneous, involuntary results of events. While the outside factors do play a role in the emotional quality of our lives, they are not the cause.
The hero belief says that events trigger thoughts, and thoughts create feelings. Events are the stimuli about which we make mental choices (thoughts), and those mental choices cause our feelings. The people, and situations we encounter do not cause our feelings. Our feelings are the emotional consequences of the mental choices we make about those factors.
Other People's Behavior and My Feelings
I often ask audience members to raise their hands if they can think of anyone in their lives who upsets them. Lots of hands go up. I then encourage them to make appointments for all those people to see psychologists or behavioral therapists. Such interventions are obviously necessary since other people’s behavior must change before audience members can be happy or reduce the drama and suffering they believe that behavior is causing. Ha!
Other people’s behavior does matter, but the choices we make about that behavior matters more. The choices we make are based on our beliefs, and a belief I encourage you to consider goes like this:
My feelings are the emotional consequences of the mental choices I make about other people’s behavior.
Previous articles in the series can be found HERE