What if tomorrow you woke up and found out that everything you believe to be true was actually false?
What if Aliens came down to earth, shattered our understanding of science and religion, and fundamentally changed the way that we look at the world?
How much would your life change?
How much of your life would you HAVE TO change?
In other words, how much have you built a life around your beliefs?
My favorite example of this is religion. Look at how many people, literally, build their life around their belief system.
The people who they hang out with, the places that they go, the activities that they do — it all revolves around a fundamental belief in their religion.
If a highly religious person found out tomorrow that their religion is actually false, EVERYTHING in their life would have to change.
Their literal sense of self would be shattered. They wouldn’t know what to believe anymore.
If you believe in a particular religion that’s great — but it’s dangerous to build your life around it. To intertwine that belief into every area of your life.
Another example — People who suffer from chronic depression often (not always) BELIEVE that they are worthless. They hate themselves. They don’t BELIEVE that life can get better.
And so what do they do? They take actions that support that belief. They stay at home. They sulk. They wrap themselves in a belief that is more comforting than questioning their reality, and in doing so — reinforce that belief.
But is this belief actually true? Is this person actually worthless who no one wants anything to do with?
The depressed person has unfortunately bought in to a belief that isn’t true, and then became self-perpetuating evidence of their belief, thus reinforcing their existing belief system.
Another example — I’ve talked before about the placebo affect and how BELIEF can literally get people to do superhuman things.
Taking a pill that you believe will make you faster/stronger/smarter will actually make you faster/stronger/smarter!!!
Similarly, if you believe you’re competent and talented, your actions will reflect this. If you believe that you’re inadequate and of little value, your actions will reflect this too.
Your beliefs influence your feelings which influence your actions which influences your results in life.
My point is that beliefs are powerful. They have the ability to sway the course of your life. Influence the way that you make decisions. Change your priorities.
The fact is — just because you believe it, doesn’t mean it’s true. Just because you have convinced yourself that this is the position you want to hold, doesn’t mean that it’s the right one.
What does this mean? You can accidentally build a life upon false beliefs. You can mistakenly believe something that is not actually true, make decisions that are extensions of that belief, and then live your life according to a false reality. A living delusion.
The problem with this is that most of us don’t know when we’re being delusional in the first place. For example, if we believe that the impossible is possible, are we merely setting ourselves up for failure, or are we actually setting ourselves up for success? It’s a fine line, and that probably depends on the individual. You’ll find stories of both.
Take caution in building your life around your beliefs. Take inventory and ask yourself “If I found out that this belief were false tomorrow, what would change in my life? Would I have to change where I live, who I hang out with, how I spend my time? Will this nullify previous decisions I’ve made for myself?”
We might not be able to avoid constructing accidental false realities, BUT if we examine it from the framework above, we can remain flexible to change. We can anticipate what would change if we found out a belief to be false. We can avoid putting too much weight into certain beliefs.
The beliefs you hold will influence the actions you take. The decisions you make. The trade-offs that you choose. Examine how beliefs might be influencing your decisions, and make sure that the belief is actually in your long term best interests.
Don’t put yourself in a position where your life can collapse as a result of constructing a false foundation.
Just because you believe it, doesn’t mean it’s true.
Also published on Medium.