Are your beliefs killing you?

Are your beliefs killing you?

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to discuss the tremendous and dangerous power of beliefs: “Are your beliefs killing you?”

First a quick update:

Secrets to your success”
Watch the second video interview in my series and if you missed out on the first video, click here.

Now, let’s talk about your beliefs; are they killing you?

Some years ago, I was teaching Sunday school in Houston, Texas. The kids were ages ten to fourteen. This is the age that children begin to question most of what they are taught and thus they also enjoy debating. Accordingly I would challenge them to help them become clearer about what they believe by asking them to define and explain their beliefs about various topics such as love or God. Of course, their answers were always widely varying. “God is love. God is strong. God is energy. Love is the most powerful force in the Universe. Love is trust, etc.”

I would then ask the children to explain how they had come to believe what they believe. My only intention was to help them see and understand that most of their beliefs in every area are often the result of something that someone has told them. Interestingly, current research reveals that children’s beliefs and understanding of God develop as a result of the types of parents they have i.e. if their parents are forgiving, then children think of God as forgiving, if parents are strict, then they think God as angry or strict and; if they have a strained relationship with their parents, then the children think of God as a surrogate parent – the ultimate Father Figure.

Most if us take it for granted that our beliefs are greatly determined by where we are born and where we grow up – by our culture. For example, I lived in The Gambia, West Africa for a couple of years. The country was made up of about thirteen major tribes, and a mixture of Christianity, Islam and Juju. In fact, the one thing that seemed common to both Christians and Moslems of the Gambia was their belief in Juju; they happily mixed their religion and the superstitions.

However, one of the most outstanding examples of unique cultural beliefs was their definition surrounding beauty.

Generally speaking, the average man and woman had a tall lean body; they were all quite trim, slender and almost skinny except for the married women. Once a woman was married, it was customary that she become full – big. Why?

This was a sign, a message to her friends, family, the tribe and to the rest of society that she was now living well; her husband was taking care of her, she was being well looked after and she had an abundance of food. Thus, once married, the achievement of health, beauty and prosperity in a woman was demonstrated by being heavy. If the married woman was skinny, it was a sign that she was not prospering.

Of course, this is the opposite belief to our Western culture, where we prize and treasure the woman that is slender and simultaneously often condemn and harshly judge the woman that is not.

My point here is to say that what we believe to be true is only what we choose it to be and often our truth, our beliefs and values are influenced or created by our culture – by parents, friends, peers, society, the media and whatever messages to which we choose to continually expose our mind.

We know that there are many people who will die for their beliefs and just as many who will also kill for their beliefs – as made evident by martyrs and suicide bombers. In fact, some parents refuse medical help for their children because they only believe in faith healing and do not believe in doctors. In September 1998, two-year-old Harrison Johnson was stung by over 430 yellow-jacket wasps. His parents believed in “faith-healing” and so they prayed for him for seven hours before calling for medical help; but Harrison died. It is estimated that since the 1980s, in the United States, about 300 children have died of “religion-based medical neglect.” But this article is not about religious beliefs or faith-healing; rather it is about your beliefs in general; are they benefitting you or killing you? And yes, our beliefs can also destroy us mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

One of the most destructive beliefs we have created today for ourselves, is about beauty – our body and its value.

Yes, we have become obsessed with our physical body and recently, I was watching some videos on YouTube regarding beliefs about being fat. The comments posted in response to the topic were truly shocking. Jess wrote:

“I hate myself. Everything about me. There’s a person that I’ve met recently that really changed my life. He’s truly a wonderful friend that I’ve never had before and I think he likes me as much as I do him.  But deep down, I feel like I don’t deserve him because I’m not thin. It’s hard to believe that people will love you no matter what your physical body looks like. Good things come to pretty people. I wish I were one. How can someone just give up this fear?”

Another woman wrote:

“I cry everyday because I’m a fat, undesirable, black woman. No man even pays me any attention no matter what I do, I’m invisible. Other fat girls have enriching relationships or get noticed by men, but I’m incapable of attracting anyone but old 50+ men. I don’t deserve anyone because I’m so ugly, who’d be stupid enough to want to be with me? My personality doesn’t matter; looks are everything. I have given up on ever finding anyone decent, that’s asking too much.”

Here these two women clearly state their core beliefs. Jess says “I feel like I don’t deserve him” and “good things don’t come to pretty people.” In other words, ‘I am not pretty and nothing good will come to me because I am not pretty.’ Jess’ beliefs are destroying and killing her happiness, her ability to allow herself to be loved and they are destroying her soul, her very essence.

Both women are simply stating that they believe they are not good enough and that something is wrong with them. How many people today in our highly advanced Western culture believe the same things and suffer deeply as a result?

Jess’ and the other woman’s suffering is common and it comes from the belief that “something is wrong with me, something is missing and I should be like other people.” The resulting misery is not created by the reality of our shape but rather by the thoughts about that shape. The same applies to every area of our life where we feel that we are not good enough, there is not enough, we are not enough, and there is something missing i.e. we need more of something or we need to be more or less of something.

Our happiness is tied into our individual sense of self-worth, self-value and self-love. Happiness never comes from anything outside of us; it comes from our beliefs which, in turn, determine how we feel about ourselves and the world around us.

As I demonstrated with the examples of the clashing and contrasting beliefs of beauty between West Africa and the Western world, there is no one true definition or truth regarding beauty. Thus, the question that applies to every area of our life is not whether our beliefs are true or not, but rather do our beliefs empower us or do they destroy us? Do our beliefs inspire us, make us feel good and drive us to contribute or do they make us miserable, driving us to self-loathing?

The key here is that our beliefs can be changed. We took them on and we can change them. Watch my two videos about your beliefs and and check out my new program designed to help break free of those old beliefs that there is something wrong with you or that you are not good enough and help you finally believe that you are deserving of the best, of success.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & Clinical Hypnotherapist

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