It’s a simple and very powerful concept. Yet it’s also one many people don’t seem to buy into (or “believe”, if you prefer).
Does belief really matter? Can we truly accomplish things simply by believing enough? Or is belief just something people use to delude themselves; a form of false hope?
What is the “truth” behind belief?
For me, I believe belief is one of the most important things we can possibly have. If fact, I feel the core of happiness is being able to believe in all the things around me – my partner, my children, my family, my friends, my dreams, even my job.
Some people talk about love being one of the most powerful forces in the world, others feel faith is. Both of those are founded on belief.
However, belief isn’t some magical thing. As my 9 year old recently put it:
Daddy, believing something won’t make it happen.
If I believe I can fly and jump off a building, I’ll still be dead.
Umm, yeah. I guess it depends on the height of the building, but for the most part he’s right.
Just to be clear, we can’t defy the laws of physics and there are varying degrees of probability in the world. There’s a difference between belief and stupidity.
Belief is really important though. It allows us to imagine things that we haven’t imagined before, and is a requirement for any sort of changes in our lives.
So while simply believing in something doesn’t mean it “will” happen, it does give it a chance.
When You Don’t Believe
The reason belief is so important is because of what it means when we don’t have it. A lack of belief can be seen as doubt. When you doubt, you question things. You question if something is likely, or even possible. Doubt causes people to hesitate, or to remain passive when they should be taking action.
Even worse than doubt is negative belief – a sense that you *can’t* do something. That something is impossible. Or perhaps a sense that although it may be possible, you could never do it.
Doubting something, believing it’s impossible, or believing that it’s impossible for you ensures failure. It causes people to discount the possibility of something without giving it a chance. Or maybe they do give it a chance, but the doubt causes them to sabotage their own efforts, ensuring their own failure.
Why do people do this? Why don’t people give themselves or their dreams a fair chance?
At its root I think doubt comes down to fear – a fear of failure. We fear failure and we want to avoid the negative feelings that come with it – embarrassment, shame and guilt. So instead, we tell ourselves that something can’t be done, or that “we” can’t do it. After all, if we don’t try then we can’t fail. And if we do decide to try, then telling ourselves this cushions us from disappointment. At some level we *knew* we weren’t going to succeed, so we get the expected result.
We see this all the time with sayings like the following:
I think this line of thinking is so wrong, and runs completely counter to the idea of belief. This thinking involves lowering (or eliminating) expectations on yourself and on those around you. Sorry, I expect more than that out of life – from myself, and from those around me. If you lower expectations, how can you ever achieve anything? Expectations are important, and belief and expectation go hand in hand.
I will acknowledge that expectation opens you up to failure and disappointment, but that’s alright. In fact, it’s necessary. If we don’t allow ourselves to fail, how can we ever learn?
If we don’t suffer disappointment how can we ever grow?
Believe in Yourself
Most of my writing is about relationships, and I truly believe that your most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. To be happy you need to have a sense of purpose. You need goals, and dreams. Simply having goes and dreams isn’t enough though, you need to be willing to act on them. And to do that, you have to believe in yourself.
I read a lot of blogs, and it is clear to me that many people out there don’t believe in themselves. Many people look at the world and see what they can’t do, instead of what they can. Many people seem to believe that they aren’t good enough.
I’m not sure where this comes from, but I suspect a lot of it comes down to what we learn when we are young. I’m a father of two young boys, and I believe as a parent one of the worst things you can do it tells your kids they can’t do something, or try to do too much for our children – doing things for them instead of letting them try. Over time, I believe these sorts of things cause people to believe that they can’t do something. That they aren’t good enough and that they’ll just mess it up.
As parents, we need to let our children try things. We need to be able to let them fail. Our job isn’t to do things for them – that’s not how they learn. Our job is to support them, help them feel good about themselves, and give them the courage to try again.
We need to let them know that we believe in them, and teach them to believe in themselves.
Sometimes things can seem hopeless, and it can seem hard to believe. Sometimes all we can ever see is failure, and there can be a sense that there’s no point. After all, why put in any effort if you’re just going to fail anyway.
But I never said belief was easy. Belief takes courage, and a willingness to see the best in things and see what is possible in life.
My son is right, belief is not a magic wand. Simply believing I can fly won’t help me if I decide to jump off a building. However that doesn’t mean I can’t fly. A belief that I CAN fly may give me the motivation that allows me to put in the work and effort to find ways to fly.
Many of the things we take for granted today are things that seemed impossible to prior generations. Flight, computers, cars, electricity. There are countless things that would never have happened if someone simply accepted what was possible. For many of the people who impacted the world, belief is what allowed them to keep going through failure after failure.
Most of us won’t change the world. But we CAN change our worlds. We can impact many people around us – our friends, families, and most importantly ourselves.
So have dreams, set goals, and don’t be afraid to expect more from yourself and those around you. Sure you’ll be disappointed sometimes, but that’s alright.
There are no magic wands in the world. Life is what you make it. And to make it what you want you need to put in effort, and you need to be willing to believe in your dreams.
9 thoughts on “The Power of Belief”
Nice piece. I enjoyed the read. Thanks to my belief in myself I am doing things I only dreamed about years ago.
LikeLiked by 2 people
I think belief in yourself is very important. Not just for doing things for yourself, but also for understanding your own self-worth and the value you bring to other things.
Whether it’s for setting individual goals, or for setting couple goals I think it’s important that each person believes in themselves.
Thanks for reading.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Another very insightful post. I like you mark a difference between belief and faith. Although I think it is sometimes hard to mark that difference. Part of my path of personal growth has been to rekindle my faith. I do feel sometimes that closing my eyes and thinking that “this is the path” helps me to carry my load. It does help to belive in yourself when you feel that you have the support of a much greater force.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Personal growth is hugely important to me. One of my earliest (and sadly least read) posts is on continuous improvement.
In everything in life, I don’t see why we shouldn’t strive to be better tomorrow than we are today.
We all make mistakes, but we should always strive to learn from them and improve. We should always be willing to expand our knowledge and understanding of things, and be the best person we can be.
Faith is a difficult issue to write on, because it is such a personal issue for so many people. But no matter what your faith is, to me at it’s core all faith is about a belief that we are part of something more.
Even taking any religious aspect out of that, I think that’s an important concept. In a family, a relationship, a workplace, a sports team, etc; it’s important to realize that we are part of something bigger than us.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Very inspiring post on the concept of belief which is not an easy one to explain. I am delighted to join the discussion. Belief really makes things happen. Unfortunately, belief does not work when we think we believe when we don’t believe. We confuse our wish or desire with belief. Our belief has to be in line with what is naturally possible. For instance, we fly with wings. You cannot believe you will fly like a bird when you know that to fly you need wings and you do not have wings. We cannot say we believe in things which we know cannot happen and expect them to happen. My poor mother in the village cannot say she believes she will get to the moon and expect this to happen. Hence, we have to be wise and realistic in what we believe. Secondly belief is not mere talk. To say I believe does not mean I really believe. Sometimes we say one thing but mean another. Therefore we have to make sure that we use the power of belief rightly and it will help us do wonders. Of course, belief has to be backed by action. Believe and act on your belief with belief; and the thing will be done. Thank you for offering us the opportunity to share our thoughts on this very important concept.
LikeLiked by 2 people
What is “realistic” is difficult to determine though. You mention your mother in the village and how her believing she can get to the moon won’t help her get there. She may never get there, but if she believed she could then she would have the initiative to learn more about the moon, learn more about space travel, and take actions large and small that would increase the probabilities of it happening. They may go from zero percent to two percent, but it would still bring her closer.
I saw your recent post on pessimism. Well, pessimistic people will often say something is “impossible” without giving it a chance, and defend their stance by saying they are just being “realistic”.
Many of the things we take for granted today were once considered impossible. The people who came up with revolutionary ideas either got lucky, or believed something was possible even when no one else did.
Thanks for commenting.
I totalybagree with you. If somebody really believes it they can do it, then they will explore the possibilities; and that could eventually take them there. The whole thing lies on belief; true belief.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Pingback: Expectation vs. Entitlement | thezombieshuffle
Pingback: Focusing on the Present | thezombieshuffle