Beliefs and why they matter

When working on making change, it can be really helpful looking at what beliefs underpin a particular habit or trait that you want to change.

This is because beliefs can strongly influence behaviour, keeping you stuck if they are limiting beliefs and moving you forward if they are empowering.  They are guiding principles in your life.

What is a limiting belief?  It is something you say about yourself, that you treat as though it is true and that holds you back in life.  Examples might be “I am useless”, “I am fat”, “Nobody likes me”, “I’m stupid”.

It is clear that if you live life with beliefs like these, it will make life tougher for you.  And who wants life to be any tougher than it needs to be?

But beliefs can be very confusing.  They are often mistaken for opinions.  Instead they are are a statement of identity meaning that they feel unchangeable and pervasive, and so impact your confidence and progress.

 

How does a belief differ from an opinion?

An opinion is subjective and not based on truth.  For example, one person may love the colour red and another love blue.  Who is right and who is wrong?  Neither.  These are opinions, or value judgements.  They might be true for the person but everyone will have a different opinion.

Neither colour is either good or bad, right or wrong, better or worse.  They just are what they are.  Just like sprouts aren’t good or bad.  They are just sprouts.  Yet sprouts seem to divide opinion and people can talk about them as thought their opinion is a statement of fact.

In addition, an opinion can change, but a belief tends to hold firm, as if they are completely true and certainly not open for discussion.

How does a belief differ from a fact

Facts and beliefs feel the same but a fact is irrefutable and provable.  A belief is something which you believe to be true and act as though it were but is actually subjective.  For example, you may believe you are fat but someone else thinks you are curvy, you may believe that nobody likes you but your friends do like you, you may believe you are stupid, but you may have done really well in some of your exams; you may believe you are useless but you have skills which others don’t share.

BELIEF OPINION FACT
Red is a bad colour I don’t like red Red is a colour
I am stupid I am not as smart as I’d like to be There are different types of intelligence:  intellectual, social, emotional, practical, technical, mathematical, musical and so on
I am fat I should lose some weight Everybody comes in different shapes and sizes
I am useless I am terrible at (eg) reading maps Everybody has different strengths and weaknesses.

Summary

The difference between beliefs, facts and opinions are subtle but have a profound effect on the way you feel about yourself, others and the world.  They can hold you back or they can help you progress.  And the good news is, beliefs can be changed if they aren’t serving you.  There is a whole section on this in my book 21 Ways and 21 Days to the Life You Want.  Or, if you prefer, you can book a session with me so I can support you 1:1 to create empowering beliefs that move your life forward.

© Tricia Woolfrey

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