Belief is incredibly powerful. It can work to our benefit if we are aware or to our detriment if we are not aware of how it actually works. Understanding how beliefs are born and how they manifest in our lives is vital for us to harness that power.
The power of thoughts was not new to me. I have studied Cognitive Behavior Therapy extensively, and honestly I have read anything I could get my hands on to understand how our brain processes information and experiences. My mother had a great understanding of this, and I had also watched and learned from her early on. What I had not tapped into yet, is how those thoughts turn into beliefs, and how those beliefs become the foundations that we create our reality on.
When we put the intention out there of what it is we are seeking and wanting to understand, it never ceases to amaze me how supported we are and how that information will find its way to us. I had set the intention and was seeking awareness and understanding as I worked on healing a core issue for me surrounding thoughts and beliefs, but had become frustrated because I felt like I did not have the time to read and research and do the work I knew needed to happen. With school added to my already full plate of work and kids, I have very little time left over to work on healing in the way I have in the past, and I was worried this issue would have to be shelved. Then the magic happened. As I was working on a project for school, I found my answers. The project involved creating a unit lesson plan for a literary book review for students based on a core text. I chose The Secret Garden as my text. Ironically, I had never read it before. As I read and studied this book, I was overwhelmed with its’ beauty and message. And I was overwhelmed with gratitude as I gained clarity and understanding on what I was seeking.
The truth I was brought to is this: Thoughts that are repeated and attached to emotions will become beliefs. When we think a thought over and over, and strong emotions are attached, the thoughts become ingrained deep within us, and then they become automatized, which moves them from our rational brain to our instinctive, automatic brain. We are often functioning under beliefs we are not even consciously aware of. For example, let’s say when you were young you were told over and over that you were “naughty” or “bad” when you did something the adult(s) felt was disobedient or not “good.” Maybe you were spanked or attention was withdrawn, so you had strong emotions of sadness and shame. You began to believe these words, and when you did something wrong you would think, “I’m a bad person.” Every time you had these thoughts, you would also feel the emotions that were first attached, and the pattern would repeat until the thoughts became automatized and you began to believe that you were just a bad person. Now this is a simplified and somewhat extreme example, but it shows how the process works. And this is not about blaming anyone else for our beliefs. It is important that we identify where they started so that we can change them, but blame does nothing for growth and change.
The message in The Secret Garden is entirely about our thoughts, how those become beliefs, and how ultimately they create our reality. The young main character, Mary Lennox, was the first to experience this awareness of what love and the power of thoughts can do to shift our reality. She was sent to live with her Uncle in England after her parents died, and it was in his home that she discovered her cousin, Colin. Colin’s mother died shortly after he was born, and his father could not be around him because Colin reminded him of his late wife. Colin was somewhat sickly, likely due to the emotional pain manifesting physically, and everyone taking care of him feared he would become hunchback and die before he reached adulthood. Colin believed in the fears of others and took what had been told to him as truth. Mary was the first person to not believe in what others were saying and spark the hope within Colin that something else might be true. As he finds healing with the help of Mary and Duncan, he begins to believe in the power of thoughts and everything shifts for him. At the pinnacle moment in the garden, Colin stepped into this truth completely and stated:
“The Magic in this garden has made me stand up and know I am going to live to be a man. I am going to make the scientific experiment of trying to get some and put it in myself and make it push and draw me and make me strong. I don’t know how to do it but I think if you keep thinking about it and calling it perhaps it will come….Every morning and evening and as often in the daytime as I can remember I am going to say, ‘Magic is in me! Magic is making me well! You learn things by saying them over and over and thinking about them until they stay in your mind forever and I think it will be the same with Magic. If you keep calling it to come to you and help you, it will get to be part of you and it will stay and do things” (Burnett, 1962, p. 251).
Belief is the magic. “Magic is in everything, only we have not sense enough to get ahold of it and make it do things for us—like electricity and horses and steam” (Burnett, 1962, p. 250).
It is absolute truth. Belief is more powerful than we can imagine. Belief is magic. What we believe in is what becomes our reality. I followed Colin’s example and I tried the experiment. I started saying, “Magic is in me!” I recognized the power of my thoughts as the catalyst for my beliefs. I became more aware and I harnessed that power. We so often think our moods change because of circumstances and events outside of us, but we miss this truth: “…it is only your thoughts and beliefs which have the power to elevate your spirits. Another person’s approval has no ability to affect your mood unless you believe what he or she says is valid. But if you believe the compliment is earned, it is your belief which makes you feel good. You must validate external approval before you experience mood elevation” (Burns, 1980, p. 256). It is not anything outside of us that creates our feelings, thoughts, or reality, but our belief in those feelings, thoughts/words, or what appears to be real that does.
With an awareness of the power of our thoughts and beliefs, it is important that we look at those and even challenge them. We can ask: (1) Is it to my advantage to maintain this particular belief? (2) Is this belief really true and valid? (3) What specific steps can I take that will allow me to rid myself of attitudes that are self-defeating and unrealistic, and substitute others that are more objective and more self-enhancing? (You can find more on challenging our distorted thoughts in a previous post.)
We have magic in us. The magic can be positive or negative depending on our thoughts and beliefs. Fear and disbelief are all founded in victim energy. When we recognize our power to shift our reality through our thoughts and beliefs, we move into victor energy. We can harness this power to manifest wonder in our lives. I believe this with every fiber of my being.
Burnett, F. H. (1962). The secret garden. New York, New York: J.B. Lippincott Company.
Burns, D.D. (1980) Feeling good. New York, New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.