“Helping you gain control over the things you want to change”

Fiona Nicolson

Belief systems. How they affect everything we feel and do

I talk a lot about belief systems and why we hold the beliefs we do with my clients. Often, we discover that the beliefs they hold are making their lives more difficult.

Over the next few posts here on my blog, I am going to explain a bit more about this. If we can understand how we think and why we hold certain beliefs we lay the basis for change. If we understand how and why our beliefs are formed then, if we need to, we can begin to adapt those beliefs to ones that help us. We can find a way to understand our world. We need to do this if we want to change.

Let’s start with a basic truth. We select what we want to experience from the world around us. It is not given to us, we choose it.

Our personal filters

Every second of every day we are bombarded with experiences from the outside world. There is simply too much going on for us to take it all in.

In order to get through ordinary life, we have to filter all this information and sensory experience. We choose what we think we need.

How do we do this? We use our existing knowledge. What is this knowledge? It may include things such as:

  • our beliefs
  • our learnings from what has happened to us before
  • what those who influence us have said
  • what our parents told us
  • and much more.

From all this, we make our own filters and construct our own mental map.  We then live in this mental world and see the outside through its lens. It is our personal map of the world.

Everyone does this all the time, and it works pretty well. However, it can go wrong sometimes. Often its weaknesses become obvious at times of great stress, bad experiences, and trauma.

An example: two ways of understanding one date

One example might be this: imagine you get into a bad situation on a date, you feel harassed and abused, perhaps you are frightened or embarrassed.

If you have made a mind map that tells you that you have a right to be in the world, that you are independent and not afraid, then you will psychologically survive your bad date. You may be angry, even frightened but you will still feel okay with your core beliefs, your self-esteem will remain intact. If on the other hand, you have a mind map where you often blame yourself when things go wrong, you may find yourself in a dark mental place. If you often feel you have no right to your own space in the world then you may find an unpleasant experience on a date destroys your confidence and self-esteem. You find it difficult to be in the world, you feel unhappy and these negative feelings start to affect every part of your life.

What I am saying is that incidents that seem very similar can have very different effects on different people. The effects can vary wildly according to how we filter the world and build our own mind map.

You can change your mental map

If you have gone through some bad experience and feel it is affecting you in a way that is making it difficult to live your life in a happy and fulfilled way then you may find it useful to take a look at your mental map and how you can change it. This can be difficult to do this and often people need help from a professional such as myself.

However, there are some things you can do for yourself. There are some very common filtering mechanisms that might be doing you damage and it can help if you recognise these.

I will look at some of these in my next post.


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