Building Your Belief
My father always used to say “The Truth is what you Believe”, and I know now that this IS really true. It's true in the sense that what we believe becomes truth in our lives and we live according to what we accept to be fact. When we were young, we were told things by our parents, and we just accepted them, and at the time, there was nothing wrong with that.
For instance, my mother told me that a portly man in a red suit comes into our homes once a year and places neatly wrapped presents under our Christmas tree based on our requests. We were told this story and simply believed and wrote that letter to Santa. My mother also told me that my childhood set of teeth would eventually fall out but, never fear, every tooth that I placed under my pillow at night, would be replaced by a dollar in the morning when I woke up. Sweet! I believed these stories, and, when I got my requested Christmas gift (some years), and some money for my decaying teeth, my belief was strengthened.
Now, we're older and of course we do not believe in Santa or the Tooth Fairy anymore, because those are silly nonsensical things to believe. It's funny however, that even as adults we end up believing, and accepting as fact, things that are just as silly to give credence to. We believe things about ourselves that unfortunately create fears that end up crippling us in life. One of my biggest fears in life has been Public Speaking. This is the same for most people, but all that fear consists of is an emotional belief that we have. Some of these are good to have – if you are swimming in the ocean and you see a Shark fin in the distance – it is a good idea to get out of the water. You believe that if the Shark gets closer it may attack you and have you for dinner (which may or may not be true). This creates the emotion of fear. The belief that the shark will harm you makes you afraid – and this is arguably a good fear to have. However, most fears that people have are simply creations of the mind that will likely never happen. Many people are afraid of public speaking, but when you analyze WHY you are afraid, you will realize that there really is nothing to be afraid of. People think that when they get up to speak in front of others, that they are being judged. In reality, however, since many people have this fear, the people watching are likely just impressed that YOU had the courage to stand in front of them to speak, and they are too busy thinking about how THEY would do if they had to speak, that they are not judging you at all. Our beliefs about ourselves is what creates our fears, NOT what others believe about us. We do not know what others believe about us, so we make up assumptions and that is what creates the fear. Change your assumptions about yourself; change what YOU believe about yourself, and you change and can eliminate the fears that hold you back in life.
We see the effects of belief all around us. We see an actor in Hollywood commit suicide and we think to ourselves, “They had money, fame, everything! Why would they take their own lives?” That is the truth that WE see, the truth that WE believe about that star. Their belief, however, was totally different. They may have believed that they were not as talented as another star. They may have believed that the life they led was going nowhere and there was no need to go on in life. THEIR belief is what led to their outcome in life, NOT what WE believe about them. The Truth is what YOU believe about yourself. It is the most important thing in our lives.
If you have ever been to a circus, you have probably seen an elephant tied to a post to prevent it from straying too far. An elephant is a giant, powerful animal and could easily rip the post from the ground if it wanted to. That is OUR belief about the elephant. But we know now that it is not our belief that matters. The truth to that elephant is what is important. When the elephant was young, it was tied to the same post to prevent it from moving. The YOUNG elephant had the BELIEF that he could rip the post from the ground, and so he tried. He pulled and tugged, but as he was young and much smaller than he is now, he could not move the post and was stuck. After many failed attempts, the young elephant believed that he could not pull the post from the ground, and that became his TRUTH. As a youngster, the elephant was right, but since he carried that BELIEF to his adult years, he became bound by that belief and now will never try to move the post again. His failure as a young elephant killed his will to try as a fully grown elephant, and his TRUTH, though false, became that he cannot move the post and now will forever be stuck.
What is your 'post' in life? What is the belief you have that holds you back from achieving more? What is the Truth about yourself that you have chosen to believe? What are YOU letting yourself think that is holding you from being your best self? If you know what it is, how do you get through it? How do you change your beliefs? The answer is to ACT. Beliefs about ourselves create fears and actions cure fear which builds confidence which changes beliefs. I used to believe I was bad at public speaking, and this created a fear of public speaking. So – I joined a public speaking group and though I still have some fear when I speak publicly, I ensure that I create opportunities to continue to speak, and I now BELIEVE that I am a better public speaker. Take any belief you have about yourself that you want to change, and take action. If you BELIEVE that you are overweight, and FEAR you will always be that way, take ACTION and start to work out or hire a trainer. If you BELIEVE that you are shy, and FEAR that you will not be good at communicating, take ACTION and get into public situations where you are in the spotlight and have to communicate. No matter the situation, identify your BELIEF, challenge your FEAR by taking ACTION. The truth about yourself is what YOU believe, so change your truth, and change your life.
Kwesi Millington helps speakers, presenters and youth to connect with their audiences and master their messages using the power of storytelling in their speeches & presentations. He is a Certified Public Speaking Coach & Youth Mentor.