The Power of Belief

May 23, 2011
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Everything that we do in our lives is based upon believing. We are constantly making decisions directly in relation to those things that we believe.

Believing affects so many parts of our everyday lives. It affects who we associate with and what we spend our money on. Believing is responsible for shaping our personal values and scope of the world. Believing is one of the most powerful thought processes that we can muster. The spectrum of belief is unyielding, and the affects are endless.

Because of the power that beliefs have, they can sometimes be damaging and downright destructive. This week, I was reminded of that first-hand when a student confided in me and revealed one of her most secret of beliefs. Originally from Peru, she explained to me that her family having a substantial amount of money and envious estates, and now she was in trouble. Other family members who desired this literal lot in life had put curses on her immediate family and that they, through an infamous sale of their souls to the devil, were slowly killing her uncle, her mother, and her. Shaking and bawling she would only collect herself in order to whisper words like, “devil” and “witchcraft”. Her eyes were wide and suspicious. This young sixteen year old was, no doubt, terrified of her own belief. I have often been known as a teacher to consol and comfort, but this was—by in large—the most difficult impromptu therapy session of my life. I had absolutely nothing to say to convince this young Peruvian-American that she was not about to die any second by the passive hand of the devil. Her beliefs made me as helpless as she was.

Conversely, beliefs can do just the opposite: They can keep you alive. It wasn’t long ago that I heard of this fairly well-known, and fairly crazy-considered free solo climber who was openly discussing his passions of climbing rocky cliffs with absolutely no harnesses, nor any ropes, nor the slightest of protective gear whatsoever. However tempting, it isn’t fair to simply chalk it up to a lack of common sense or IQ. This man simply had the belief that he wasn’t going to fall, and it was as pure and straightforward as that. He has been heard saying that he would just fall otherwise. It was quite elementary to him: You must believe it in order for it to happen, which is just what he does. He continues to climb and to believe in himself beyond anything else, because he knows exactly what would happen if he didn’t.

Now, I am not suggesting you to believe in any of this, or—quite frankly—anything that I write. I am, however, suggesting that you be aware of those things that you believe or believe in; because they actually have great powers over you.

A not so long time ago, I realized that I believe that my car accident (and subsequent spinal cord injury) is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. This belief has definitely been a key to my personal successes and happiness thus far. I haven’t ever allowed myself to believe otherwise, nor will I ever make it down that road. I fully realize that the power that my belief has given me is far more than I would have achieved without its existence.

Breathe in and take a moment. Realize your beliefs and shine a light on each and every one of them, for they have had an impact, and they will continue to shape and mold and develop every part of you as long as you believe it.

Author: Ryan McLean