Practice 2: Decode Your Belief Programs
In a recent blog: The Power of Our Programs, I share my realisation that the worrisome thoughts and negative self-talk I repeat to myself, are like a ‘program’ in my brain that I have been writing for many years. These programs are filled with thousands of lines of ‘belief code’ about what I think I can and cannot do, what will work and what won’t, in certain situations.
Each program has a trigger. If it’s a financial trigger, then a money scarcity program uploads. If it’s a customer trigger, then a program of self-criticism may arise.
This Practice is about getting to know one ‘belief program’ that is running in your mind right now so that you can see the ‘code’ that you are writing. As the programmer of this code, you can always write better code, but it helps if you first see what you are uploading.
To identify one belief program you hold.
Journal and pen
Step 1: Identify a belief program
Find a quiet place to write and think about one situation that is taking up a lot of your time and attention. Give it a specific name that you can relate to such as, ‘Backyard Disaster’ or ‘Monthly Sales Targets’ or ‘Networking Function’. This is the ‘belief program’ you will work on.
Then write freely all the words and phrases that you tell yourself about this situation. It’s not for anyone else to read, so swear if you want to, be blunt, and keep going for at least ten minutes or until you have emptied your mind from EVERYTHING related to this situation.
Step 2: Explore your belief program…
- how you feel about this situation
- what you fear about this situation
- what are the ‘what if’s..’ in this situation
- how you feel about those ‘what if’s..’
- what you believe about the situation
- where you believe you are stuck
- where you feel unsafe in the situation
- what safety looks like in this situation
- what you have just realised about the situation
- what you have just realised about your beliefs.
If you have at least a page or more, you have probably touched on many aspects but if more come to you, keep going! This ‘belief code’ will show you the many stories you have put around this situation and what you are downloading into your mind every time this program zips in.
Step 3: Write better code for better beliefs
Now that you have the program code in front of you, try to look at it objectively.
You might choose to go through it line by line and assess what is an actual concern and what is your fear talking. Fearful thinking is behind all unhelpful mind programs and identifying the fear can help put the real problem into perspective.
You might read it and realise that nothing in that belief program is helpful to you, and right then and there decide that you will stop focusing on it. Belief programs can only live when you put time and attention on them.
Regardless of what you do with the old program, you may decide that it’s time to write more helpful program code. You can start this by keeping only the code that helps you see a positive way through the situation and remove everything else.
How do you write a better belief program?
There is no one right way to do this, so if you have a method that you use to develop better beliefs, then by all means, keep using it! If you have not yet found a way of doing this, I’ve shared my version of it in this blog. It may or may not work for you, but sometimes all you need is a starting point to get the idea.
You can often tell when you have written a better program because the new program avoids the drama and story that was behind the old one. You are simply telling your brain that you are safe by replacing a program of negativity and fear with a lighter, calmer replacement program of safety. For example, a friend of mine reprograms a belief of ‘I’m not coping’, with ‘Just do what’s in front of me’ to help shift the focus from vague worries to a specific action.
If you have a program to share, feel free to put it in the comments section.