Self-fulfilling prophecies and you…
In all the posts I’ve made here, I’ve emphasized that awareness is the key to improving your life, whether that improvement is spiritual, emotional, or practical. To the degree that you are unaware, you respond automatically, based on certain beliefs, premises, habits, and so forth, most of which you developed as a child.
This “automatic response” way of living often creates outcome you don’t want and didn’t intend. It limits, or even eliminates, choice. The more aware you are, however, the more choice you have—and the less likely you are to unconsciously create or attract people and situations you don’t want into your life.
Unless you’ve been with me for a while, the idea that increased awareness provides the solution to life’s problems might be a new and foreign idea to you. Using Holosync and the other courses and resources we’ve created here at Centerpointe, we’ve helped nearly a million people in 173 countries all over the world expand their awareness. As awareness increases, emotional problems fall away, mental abilities improve, stress diminishes, well being increases, and unwanted people and situations stop showing up in your life.
Meditation is the most powerful way I know of to increase awareness, and Holosync meditation increases awareness even more quickly than traditional meditation. If you then use that additional awareness to observe the part of your mind that generates your feelings and behaviors and causes you to attract or become attracted to certain people or situations in your life, you gain a tremendous amount of choice over your life. The more aware you become, the more difficult is it to do something that doesn’t serve you.
Post before last, we looked at the internal representations you make, primarily your internal dialog and the internal pictures you make. I suggested that you practice observing these internal representations because they (along with a few other internal mental processes) directly create your feelings and other internal states. These internal states then generate your behaviors and the people and situations you attract into your life.
Watching these internal processes is challenging at first, as you may have discovered if you tried to do it. You won’t master the ability to do it in just a few weeks, so keep working on it. As you get better at it, you’ll see some incredible positive changes in your life. (My Life Principles Integration Process online courses will take you, step-by-step, through this learning process. You can hear a free preview lesson at www.centerpointe.com/life/preview)
In my last post, I asked you to become aware of your shadows, aspects of yourself you’ve disowned or pushed down into the basement of your awareness because someone taught you that they were wrong or bad. Many, if not most, problems in life are actually an unconscious expression of these disowned parts, and becoming aware of them and re-owning them allows you to end the most stubborn life-long problems.
In this post, I want to look at another aspect of how your internal processes create most of what happens to you in your life, and all of your experience of and reaction to what happens—beliefs. A belief is a collection of internal representations about something you think is true in a certain area of life—a generalization you’ve made about life, about people in general, or about yourself.
Psychologists have pointed out something about beliefs that I find quite fascinating: beliefs are self-fulfilling prophecies. This means that when you believe something you’ll figure out a way to make it come true in reality, or at least seem to be true. For some reason, when you believe something, you’ll do whatever it takes to be right about it—even if being right creates outcomes and experiences you don’t want.
Most people, in fact, spend their entire lives unconsciously arranging for what they believe to come true in reality (psychotherapist Dr. Eric Berne wrote an entire book about how people do this, Games People Play).
If you believe no one likes you, you’ll find a way to make sure the people you encounter don’t like you. Or, you’ll interpret the actions of others as evidence that they don’t like you —which in terms of your experience of life amounts to the same thing. If you believe you’ll never succeed, you’ll find a way to make that come true. If you believe you can’t make a lot of money, or that you can only make a certain amount of money, but no more, you’ll find a way to be right about that.
In fact, I’ll make a rather bold statement. Many—perhaps all—of the problems in your life—with relationships, finances, success or lack of success, or any other area, are the result of your unconscious attempts to prove that you’re right about what you believe. Your deeply held beliefs create your world.
As I’ve said so many times, because lack of awareness is the problem, awareness is the solution. Figure out what unexamined beliefs you’ve been unconsciously proving are true, and watch yourself prove them, with awareness, and you will eliminate the self-created difficulties in your life.
Life has plenty of intrinsic difficulties (including the fact that all things are impermanent and eventually fall apart), which I’ve discussed at length in other posts. Most of your problems and difficulties are not intrinsic to your life, however. You create them by acting unconsciously. By becoming more aware, you can stop creating them. Otherwise, you can—and will—keep creating the same problems, over and over, for your entire life. Most people do.
This is a fascinating subject because it’s about you and how you create your life. In recent posts I’ve emphasized a few aspects of life where we tend to operate unconsciously and automatically, without awareness. When we do this, we often create internal feelings and external outcomes that we didn’t intend and don’t want.
When you operate with awareness, however, you take your life off autopilot. With awareness you have choice, and the feelings you experience and the outcomes you create always end up being more resourceful.
Two posts ago we looked at the internal representations you make. Internal representations, though completely unconscious in most people, are an important part of how you make sense of and navigate through life. They are part of an internal map you’ve created, a map that generates how you feel in each moment, how you behave, and what people and situations you attract or become attracted to.
If you’re like most people, all of this happens outside your awareness. Become aware of your internal representations, though, and begin to observe how they shape your life, and that awareness dramatically changes everything. You begin to see that much of what you’ve been doing—unintentionally and automatically—doesn’t serve you. As you see this, you begin to exercise more choice.
In my last post, I asked you to look at another unconscious aspect of life: what many people call shadows—those parts or aspects you’ve disowned because you think they’re bad or wrong. Though you’ve pushed them out of your awareness, they leak out into your life anyway. You express them in covert and dysfunctional ways, creating substantial trouble in your life.
In fact, most if not all of what bothers you in life is a manifestation of disowned shadow material, and re-owning these shadows creates tremendous positive change. Again, awareness creates choice. Dysfunctional and immature reactions (which, since they’re unconscious, seem to just happen) become conscious and resourceful choices.
This time, I’d like to look at your beliefs and the huge affect they have on what happens in your life. Amazingly, most people never examine what they believe, or how a belief is transformed into what happens in their life.
Why do you believe something? Obviously it’s because you assume that it’s true, and you assume that it’s true because you have “evidence.” But beliefs, being self-fulfilling prophecies, generate their own evidence. Whatever you believe to be true, you’ll find a way to prove that you’re right (I’ll explain the three ways you do this in just a moment).
Because beliefs are self-fulfilling prophecies, all beliefs are true! Or, you could just as easily say that no beliefs are really true. But this is a much more metaphysical question that I’ll address in another post. For now, let’s just assume that whatever you believe, as time goes by you’ll accumulate more and more evidence to prove that you’re right. The more evidence you generate, the stronger the belief—and the stronger the belief, the more additional evidence you’ll accumulate.
Anything you believe will turn out to be true, or at least seem to be true, because you’ll generate whatever evidence you need. What you believe feeds on itself until it seems obviously true—even though someone else believes the opposite, and is busy accumulating evidence that they are right (what’s wrong with these people, who can’t see that you’re right?). In this way, your unexamined premises about what’s true and what isn’t dramatically affect what happens in your life.
We develop closely-held beliefs, about who we are, what is possible, what people are like, and what the world is like, while we’re growing up. In other words, we make these important and influential decisions about who we are, about what is possible, about other people, and about the world, at a time when we have limited information, limited experience, and limited thinking ability. Then we defend these beliefs, in many cases, for the rest of our lives, creating and accumulating more and more evidence that they’re true. If the belief is resourceful, great, but if it isn’t—if, for instance, it limits what is possible—you’ll create a life where you get to be right, but at a terrible cost.
If you got the impression when you were a child that you weren’t very smart, this could be the beginning of a life-long belief that strongly affects your life. Perhaps you were confused by the alphabet in kindergarten and gave a wrong answer. The other kids laughed and you began to believe that you weren’t very smart.
With this seed of a belief, you’ll begin to attract additional “evidence” that you’re right, and the belief becomes stronger. Not wanting to make another mistake, you feel anxious when the teacher calls on you (this, by the way, is caused by making internal representations of not making a mistake or not being laughed at—in other words, of what you don’t want), which causes you to make more mistakes. Since you don’t think you’re smart enough anyway, you don’t try as hard, or you give up entirely. Even the normal mistakes that all the kids make seem like proof that you aren’t smart enough.
Soon there’s no doubt in your mind that you were indeed passed over when the brains were distributed.
Often people don’t even remember the root cause events that became the seeds of their key beliefs, because these events happened so long ago. What’s more, when we’re small and inexperienced at life, we’re more likely to globalize isolated but strongly-charged emotional experiences, assuming that a one-time experience represents the way things always are and always will be.
It’s as if you saw one bad movie and concluded that all movies are a waste of time, or had one bad experience with a dog and concluded that all dogs are dangerous.
Also consider that most of our beliefs about ourselves, other people, and the world come from our interactions with our parents. We assume that what they teach us about life is True (with a capital “T”). We don’t realize that our parents are in almost every case merely teaching us what their parents taught them, regardless of the potential negative consequences. And, since all beliefs are self-fulfilling prophecies, if our parents’ views are inaccurate or not resourceful, ours will be, too.
So there you are, quite small, quite inexperienced at life, with the narrowest of perspectives, and with little or no education or knowledge, trusting the views of your parents about who you are and what is possible, about people in general, and about life. Since what you believe in great part creates your life, does this seem like the best way to decide what to believe? And, since once the seed of a belief is formed, you’ll spend your entire life accumulating “evidence” that it’s true, whether a belief is true or not is beside the point. Since beliefs are self-fulfilling prophecies, the important consideration is whether or not they are resourceful.
I said that there are three ways you prove that what you believe is true. Let’s take a look at them. The first way is by unconsciously attracting or becoming attracted to situations and people that help you to be right about what you believe. In other words, you unconsciously recruit people to help you prove that you’re right.
If you believe no one likes you, you’ll attract or become attracted to people who find it difficult to like anyone, or who at least don’t like people like you. Whatever you believe, you’ll develop a kind of internal radar that draws people into your life who will help you prove that you’re right. In a crowded room, you’ll unconsciously find each other. Other people won’t be as interesting to you or you to them. Unconsciously, you’ll look for people who will help you prove that you’re right about what you believe, and only certain people will qualify.
The people who will help you be right about what you believe are also trying to be right about something, which is why they’re attracted to you. In Games People Play, Dr. Eric Berne describes a number of common interactive patterns people use to prove that they’re right about their core beliefs (“nothing ever turns out right for me,” “people are out to get me,” etc.). The purpose of a “game” is to be right about something, and you are a genius at spotting and recruiting potential players.
“No one likes me,” then, could be seen as one of these games. If you want to prove that your belief is true, you’ll find people who won’t like you, and you’ll get to be right. The other player will also get to be right about what he or she believes, perhaps that the world is full of unlikable people.
At the end of the game, you’ll both have added more evidence that what you believe is true. In playing this game, you fail to notice all the other people out there that would like you, though, because they won’t be helpful to you in proving that you’re right. You don’t find them interesting and you aren’t attracted to them. The people who are predisposed not to like you, though, will attract you the most.
When you live unconsciously, without awareness, most of your life will be about attracting people and situations that allow you to prove that you’re right about what you believe. However, when you realize what doesn’t work in your life is the result of unconscious attempts to be right about something you believe, and you begin to watch yourself prove that you’re right, as it happens, something changes. Any belief that isn’t resourceful will fall away. Believe something with awareness and you won’t be able to keep doing it if it doesn’t serve you.
Let me give you an example from my own life. Throughout my teenage years my mother continually pointed out that, in her opinion, I was “just like my father,” and that no woman would ever be able to put up with me. Not only was I annoying just because I was a teenager, I also looked just like my father and shared many of his mannerisms. My parents had divorced when I was three, and my mother wasn’t too fond of my father, so the fact that I was a lot like my father triggered quite a negative reaction in her.
She must have told me at least a thousand times during my teenage years that no woman would ever be able to put up with me. I then spent the next twenty years attracting or being attracted to one woman after another who helped me prove that I was right. They, of course, were also busy proving something, and in a crowded room we would always find each other. Somehow, without any prior information, I could pick out of a crowd a woman who was attracted to me, and who was ready to play a game with me in which we’d both get to be right about what we believed about the opposite sex and relationships.
This isn’t the only way we prove that what we believe is right, though. We also prove we’re right by interpreting whatever is happening in such a way that we confirm that our belief is true.
If you believe that no one likes you, you’ll interpret the behavior of others as evidence that they don’t like you, even if that isn’t what their behavior really means. Of all the possible interpretations, you’ll pick the one that confirms that you’re right. The other person might be having a bad day. Their behavior might have nothing to do with you. If you believe that no one likes you, though, you’ll pick the interpretation that proves that you’re right and filter out all the others.
If you believe you’ll never be able to make very much money, you’ll interpret whatever happens as evidence that you’re right, even if there are other explanations. You make what seems like a promising investment, but lose your money. “I knew it,” you say to yourself. “I’ll never make any money.” The fact that many wealthy people failed over and over before they finally made their money doesn’t occur to you. Of all possible interpretations, you pick the one that confirms that what you believe is true and you filter out any other interpretations.
Because I believed that no woman would ever put up with me, I would interpret a woman’s behavior as evidence that I was right, even if that wasn’t the reason for her behavior. One time a woman I was dating didn’t show up for a date we’d made, which I, of course, assumed was evidence that she didn’t care about me, and which sent me into an emotional tailspin.
What actually happened, though, had nothing to do with me. She’d been skiing in the mountains about 60 miles from the city where I live, and her car had broken down. In this pre-cell phone era she had no way to contact me until she finally got home late that night, long after our meeting time. Believing what I did, I interpreted her failure to show up as evidence that my belief about women was true, even though there was another interpretation.
Finally, the third way we prove the truth of what we believe is by acting in a way that makes it come true. If you believe you won’t be loved, you’ll act in such a way that eventually the other person will stop loving you.
If you believe you’ll never make money, you’ll unconsciously take actions that will ensure that you’re right. You’ll fail to do what those who do make money do. You’ll fail to fully evaluate a potential investment, or you’ll talk yourself out of doing something that’s essential or talk yourself into doing something that will sabotage your efforts. If you believe you aren’t smart, you’ll unconsciously do what you need to do to prove that you’re right—you won’t study, you won’t do your homework, or you’ll make yourself anxious or confused whenever you’re in a learning situation (which, you might remember from a previous post, you do by focusing on what you don’t want).
In my own case, I attracted women who were predisposed to not be able to tolerate me, and I often misinterpreted their actions as evidence that they didn’t love me. I also acted in a way that caused them eventually to say, “Okay, you’re right. I can’t tolerate you.” Then, once again, I’d get to be right.
I wish it wasn’t true, but it’s a cruel fact of human nature that we’d rather be right about what we believe than be happy. Of course in order to do this to yourself you have to do it unconsciously, since you can only do what isn’t resourceful if you do it without awareness.
I’ve said that most of life is a process of arranging to be right about what you believe. If this seems far-fetched to you, remember that we do this automatically and unconsciously, without seeing that we do it. Live with awareness, and this problem disappears. Unfortunately, few people are aware. In order to become more aware, my suggestion is to meditate daily, preferably with Holosync, and to begin a process of observing your own internal processes.
So, as I’ve said, you can only do something that does not serve you if you do it without awareness. If you believe something without examining it, assuming that it must be true because of all the evidence you’ve accumulated, you’ll just unconsciously continue to create even more evidence.
But if you begin to observe the internal processes that create your experience of life, and you see how your beliefs (which are just a collection of internal representations about a certain subject) directly create certainly feelings, certain interpretations of what is happening, and certain actions, and that beliefs also causes you to attract or be attracted to certain people and situations, that awareness will cause any belief that does not serve you to fall away. A resourceful belief—one that serves you—will remain. Those that don’t serve you, as you see how they create negative outcomes, will fall away.
When I was operating unconsciously in relationships, the world seemed to be full of women who, once they got to know me, couldn’t tolerate being around me. I assumed that all women would see me this way. Women who might have appreciated me were invisible to me, or unappealing, and they didn’t notice me or find me attractive, either. In my mid-thirties, though, I saw how my belief about women was creating what was happening in my life. The next time I started dating someone, I wanted to see exactly how I was proving that no woman would ever be able to put up with me.
There’s a key principle at work here that I want to make sure you get, because it applies to your life, too. Your feelings, behaviors, and what and whom you attract into your life are generated by something you do inside that three and a half-pound universe between your ears. What happens in your life doesn’t just happen. Yes, the circumstances you were born into play a role in your life, as do your genetics. But the role they play is minor compared to what happens in your mind. Become aware of how your mind creates your life and you can overcome your genetics and your circumstances. Many people have.
In my own case, I believed that no woman would ever be able to put up with me. This involved a set of internal representations—most of which were about what I did not want. In making these internal representations I was unintentionally giving my mind an instruction to prove that my belief was true. My own largely unconscious thought-processes were generating the negative outcomes I was experiencing with women. Who I attracted, how I behaved, and what I felt, were all coming from something I was doing.
I wasn’t doing this on purpose. I didn’t even know I was doing it. Though it was all happening unconsciously, on autopilot, it was still coming from me, from something I was doing. I was just doing it unconsciously. This is why awareness is so important. If what you’re doing to create your life is happening unconsciously, you’ll keep doing it without even knowing that you’re doing it. Do it with awareness, however, and you gain the power to do something about it. You gain choice.
This is the real meaning of taking responsibility. When you realize that most of what happens to you, and all of your response to what happens, comes from certain things you do inside, you can then begin to figure out how you’re doing it. As you do that, you create choice about what previously seemed to “just happen.”
As I watched how I was proving that I was right about relationships, I began to see what I was doing inside my head and how it directly created how I felt and how I acted. I also saw the red flags I’d rationalized away in other relationships. I clearly saw how, with the help of the woman I was with, I was indeed proving, once again, that no woman would ever put up with me. She, on her side, was also busy proving what she believed about herself, about men, and about relationships. We were both proving, through our relationship, that we were right about what we believed.
As I watched, I became fascinated. Within a short time—a few weeks—I just couldn’t keep doing what I’d done in all the other relationships. I was experiencing the truth of something I shared with you earlier, that you can’t do something that doesn’t serve you and do it with awareness. As I watched how I was proving that I was right, my enthusiasm for the relationship diminished, whereas in other relationships I’d just tried harder when things started to go sideways. Once I clearly saw what I was doing I just couldn’t keep doing it so, as gracefully as possible, I ended the relationship.
Then, to my complete surprise, I began to attract and become attracted to a completely different kind of woman. I also began to act differently in relationships. To my amazement, I began attracting women who were predisposed to like me. Instead of spending all my time trying to convince a woman that I cared about her and that my intentions were good, I was attracting women who just assumed that this was the case. I had changed my entire relationship dynamic by becoming aware of what I believed and observing myself as I believed it.
The recurring problems in your life happen because you’re unconsciously proving that you’re right about something. As long as you keep doing this, you’ll keep getting the same results. But if you figure out what belief is generating these recurring negative outcomes and watch yourself to see how you’re doing it, the negative outcomes will fall away and be replaced by something more resourceful.
So, as before, we’re back to awareness. Awareness, it turns out, is the answer to all the problems of life. When you become aware of something you’re doing that doesn’t serve you, it falls away.
All you have to do to create positive change is carefully watch what you’re doing in that creative part of your mind. And you don’t need will power to stop doing what doesn’t serve you because if you’re really aware what doesn’t serve you will fall away all by itself. Just as you don’t need will power to eat when you’re hungry, you don’t need will power to stop doing what doesn’t serve you. You just need awareness.
Let me say once again, though, that awareness is not the same as knowing something. Knowing may help you determine what to pay attention to, but knowing, by itself, won’t create positive change. You might know that you lose your temper, overeat, lose money whenever you invest, or attract partners you have trouble getting along with. Knowing, however, doesn’t cause you to stop doing these things, as you’ve probably already discovered.
To create change you need to see how you do these things. You need to know how your mind creates your feelings and behaviors, and how it causes you to attract or be attracted to certain people and situations—and then watch yourself do it, with awareness. You need to see what you’re doing, and also see the results created by what you’re doing.
There are a couple of reasons why most people have trouble creating these kinds of changes. First, they don’t know where to look. Quite likely no one has pointed out to you that your internal cognitive processes create your feelings, your behaviors, and what and whom you attract. Second, these internal processes zoom by very quickly and for most people are entirely unconscious. It takes work, persistence, and awareness to watch your mind in the way I’m suggesting.
This is why meditation, especially Holosync meditation, is crucial to the process. As you use Holosync, and especially as you progress to the more powerful deeper levels of the program, your awareness continues to increase. As this happens, watching how you create your life becomes increasingly easy.
As you become more aware it becomes increasingly more difficult to create anything in your life, internally or externally, without an aware, witnessing part of you seeing what you’re doing. If you begin to create what doesn’t serve you, that observer—the real you—sees it coming. Once you see what you’re doing, you just can’t keep doing it if it isn’t resourceful.
So here’s the big question: what do you believe about yourself? What do you believe about people, about the world, and about life in general? What are you busy proving that you’re right about, even though you don’t like the results?
It might not seem possible that you could make whatever you believe come true, or at least seem to be true. It might not seem possible to you that what you believe, rather than blind luck, external circumstances, or genetics, could be sabotaging your life. You don’t need to believe me, though. Find out for yourself by looking inside yourself.
So your homework is to make a list of the aspects of your life that aren’t working, and then to figure out what closely held beliefs cause you to generate these unwanted outcomes. Then, watch yourself believe something, as it unfolds. Find out how you create or attract the proof that you’re right about what you believe.
Here is a key principle I’ve discovered:
For any outcome you want, there is a certain way of thinking and acting that will get it for you. You have to find that way of thinking and acting, and be willing to adopt it.
Whatever is happening in your life right now is the result of your current way of thinking and acting. As long as you continue to think and act in the same way, you’ll continue to get the same results. To get different results, you’re going to have to adopt a different way of thinking and acting. It’s as simple as that.
Part of your current way of thinking is the internal representations you make in each moment. A second part involves the various aspects of yourself you’ve disowned and pushed into the basement of your consciousness. Still another is what you believe about yourself, about people, and about the world. There are others, which I discuss in detail in my Life Principles Integration Process online courses, but these are the basics, plus one more which we’ll look at in my next post.
It might seem that figuring out the most resourceful way to think and act is incredibly complex and difficult. Awareness, however, makes this process easy. You don’t need to analyze your current way of thinking and acting to death in order to figure out what is most resourceful. All you have to do is watch with awareness, which becomes progressively easier as you use Holosync. As you become more aware, apply that awareness to the part of your mind that creates your life. As you watch, what doesn’t work falls away and is replaced by what does work.
Before I let you go, two opportunities for you:
First, I want to remind you to come and be with Zen master Genpo Roshi and me in Los Angeles on March 7th and 8th. Because of the difficult economic times, we are offering a huge discount for this workshop. Those who have attended other workshops we’ve done have described them as “life changing.”
Please do come and spend a weekend with Genpo Roshi and me that is sure to change your life. I want you to be one of the truly resilient ones who make it through tough times easily. Just go to www.centerpointe.com/bigmind to reserve your spot. If you bring a friend you save even more.
Second, my good friend Raymond Aaron has a gift for you. Raymond is an amazing guy and a master at helping people double their income. He even wrote a book, Double Your Income Doing What You Love. Because of my friendship with him, he has agreed to work with you this month for free. Register at www.DoubleYourIncomeCHALLENGE.com to let Raymond work with you. I believe there are some free gifts involved, too—and this offer is good only if you sign up in January.
So until next time, be well.
(click the player above to listen to this post)
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