One of the most frequent questions my readers ask me is, "How do I change a belief that I no longer want?”
First, we have to understand what a belief is. Beliefs are repeated thoughts that we have continued to observe in our experiences. We first notice an event and have a thought/feeling about it. This could have happened in our childhood or later in life. Then, we begin to notice similar events. Those following events reinforce the initial thoughts/feelings about that first event. It only takes a few reoccurring thoughts about similar events to create a belief.
Let's say you believe that people are not kind to you. Your previous life experiences have created that belief. Someone at some point was unkind. You noticed it, felt horrible about it, and maybe even wondered if it was personal. Then, another person was unkind. Now you're starting to wonder if it's you. You have more feelings and thoughts about it. You start to expect more unkind people and experiences. Now it feels like people are not kind to you.
How would you begin to change it? The same way you installed that belief: through focus. Our focus changes our attention, our expectation, our feelings, our energy, and our beliefs. As I've explained in my newest book, The Energy of Emotions, "Energy is the currency of the universe. When you ‘pay' attention to something, you buy the experience of it.”
The first thing you would do is make a conscious effort to notice people who are kind to you during your day. Maybe it's someone who offers you a warm smile, or lets you pass in front of them in traffic; maybe they hold the door open for you. Regardless of how small you judge the kind act to be, consciously notice it. Open the notepad on your phone and write it down. Make it a game and see how many kind acts you can find during your day. It can involve strangers on the street, co-workers around the office, or someone in your own home.
As you focus on the opposite of a current belief, you begin to introduce doubt: "Maybe it's not everyone. Some people are kind to me.” As you introduce doubt, your expectation begins to change. Now you have a better chance of noticing more acts of kindness. As you become open to this, you begin to notice in the world around you. You see people being kind to others or you notice positive stories in the news, and you begin to believe that kindness is very much alive and very much possible for you.
As you believe in the possibility more, you begin to attract experiences that confirm your new belief that "Some people are kind to me.” As you notice this new belief more and more, the percentage increases. Today, it's one person; tomorrow, that one might be two, and then three. As your expectation changes, so does your experience. Now, nine out of ten people are kind to you throughout your day. Now, it's a new belief that people are kind to you.
You change your belief by changing your expectation. You change your expectation by changing your focus. You do this little by little, day by day. If nine people were aggressive, mean, or rude to you, focus on the one who wasn't. Think back to a time when others offered you their shoulder to cry on, or a compassionate ear. Remember the kindness from your past and use that to counter the old belief. Create some doubt about the old belief. Maybe it's not completely true.
Continue to make your list. Every night before you go to sleep, write down all of the acts of kindness that were done for you for that day. Soon enough you will have a long list of kind acts. As you train your mind to focus on what you do want, and let go of the thoughts that are bringing you down, you will flip your beliefs in a matter of a few weeks.
If you go about your day and someone is mean, take a deep breath and remind yourself that events like these are just the residue of your old beliefs. They don't mean anything. Shift your focus back towards the things you want to see. Expect more kindness and you will experience more kindness.
This exercise can also be done with beliefs like, "Nobody loves me,” "The world is a cruel place,” or "I can't trust anyone.” We flip these kinds of negative and unwanted beliefs day by day through the power of our focus. This is how we create a new experience. This is how we install new beliefs.