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Pondering the universe

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Mindset is not belief

Many seem to push the idea that changing our thoughts and views of things is all that is needed to change our lives, but there is much more to it.

We really don't do things enthusiastically unless we really believe they are worthwhile, but what is belief? Beliefs are ideas that we put at the top of our justification stack as the inviolate reason for our being and actions. They are the reference by which other ideas are measured. We will sacrifice for them. Our beliefs then are something we consider an essential part of our fabric, without which we would be lesser beings, and as such are what all other things in our lives revolve around.

We will decide what to keep and what to let go of according to our beliefs, with the preference being to let go of things rather than the beliefs. That is because we trust them more, and that trust has come because our experience has taught us deeply that we can rely upon them.

That is not to say that our beliefs are all doing us good, because in the midst of past traumas, we may have made some decisions about what we believe. These then get locked in as new beliefs because they are associated with the pain of the trauma, the memory of which may not be easily moved past. That highlights that beliefs have a heavy emotional component, which is enthusiasm when we like what we believe, but is often anger when we resent our beliefs, though we often project it onto others.

Thoughts, in themselves, then are not beliefs, because thoughts are transitory, and we can churn through those at a fast rate as they enter and leave our consciousness. We can imagine with thought, and that imagining serves to see possibilities, but we may even act upon them to see what happens. However, we will not continue unless those thoughts and actions fit in with our beliefs. We will resist them, because they don't have the deep meaning for us that our beliefs have.

Which comes to the idea that supplanting a few thoughts with new ones will lead quickly to us having new lives, and that hyping ourselves up will override our deep emotions. No! While we still have our old beliefs, our thoughts and actions will tend to revert to them. That means that if we want to transform, we need to change our beliefs and redirect our emotions to support them. That is non-trivial and requires work, otherwise we will not trust them. We will have to see that they really work for us, and not just take someone's word for it.

Beliefs about ourselves or the way the world works will not change just by learning a few phrases by rote, or acting out some lines as if in a play. It may fool others, but we will know that we are not the persona we are trying to project. Don't believe anybody who says such actions will.

That does not mean that being mindful of mindset is not beneficial. However, it is not the few thoughts that count, but the millions that go into the rest of our lives that will define our basic thinking approach. Millions of thoughts focussed upon the work in front of us will hold a lot more power for our confidence levels than a few hokey mantras about faking it.

It took a lot of living to get the beliefs we have, so we need to be realistic and know that changing ourselves requires substantial internal realignment. Be prepared to change, and then change is possible. Take steps to change, and it will happen. But we need to be kind to ourselves, and be measured about what to change, so that we are OK with the changes as we are making them. Making a whole raft of changes will produce a lot of resistance, but changes to a few smaller things at first, and learning from them, will enable us to proceed with confidence that we can make larger changes.

However, we can periodically check in with ourselves that the changes are really in our best interests. We may want to check in with others that we trust, but not necessarily those that are part of making us the new us, as they may have a vested interest in us completing the changes in the way that they want. We can try an old friend or acquaintance who does not have a vested interest in us either way, as they may be more amenable to being truthful about the effects of the changes that we have made so far.

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