The Power of Beliefs

Last month I attended a presentation by Dr Raj Persaud at King’s College London about the importance of belief in the therapeutic process.  Dr Persaud, listed by the Times newspaper as one of the top 20 mental health gurus in the world, spoke about the continuum along which humans find themselves in terms of what they believe about their destiny.  On one end of that spectrum are those termed External, meaning that they believe they have no input, influence or control in creating their destiny.  These people see themselves as tumbleweed, blown about at the mercy of the wind and other uncontrollable forces.  At the other end of the spectrum are Internals, those who believe that it is through their hard work, diligence, practice and tenacity that they affect their destiny and shape their future.

Dr Persaud’s argument is that the first step of successful therapy is always to move the client along the spectrum from External to Internal.  According to him, it is only when the client believes they are in control of their destiny that behavioural change can begin to take root.

Beliefs, despite being invisible, colour the lens through which we view our world.  Dr Persaud quoted studies that showed Internals are more likely than Externals to vote, to work for achievements, to tolerate delays in rewards and to plan for long-term goals.  Internals are also less prone to learned helplessness and serious depression[1].  This is a wonderful example of how the beliefs we hold to be true are expressed in our behaviours, our action and therefore our achievements in the world.

What is incredibly exciting is that in separate research Dr Bruce Lipton, a genetic scientist from New Zealand, has shown that our beliefs can not only effect our behaviour, but can actually affect our physical bodies at the cellular level too.

In his lecture on the Biology of Belief[2] Dr Lipton gives a step-by-step explanation of the process by which proteins inside the cells are activated by the signals from the cells’ external sensors.  Based on the cells perception of what is going on in the external environment, specific proteins are activated within the cell or even created from the genes inside the cell.

The exciting concept that ties these two academics’ findings together is the real-world impact of our beliefs.  Changing a belief can normally be a difficult thing to do.  People can be quite attached to their beliefs – wars are fought over them!  And yet, when you decide that your current beliefs are no longer serving you and the results you want to achieve in the world, you can quickly and easily transform them by communicating in the language and structure of the unconscious mind.

What beliefs are you carrying around that no longer serve you? What would you prefer to believe about your ability to affect your health, your finances and your relationships?  Now you’re ready to become the pilot of your own destiny!

Would you like to know where you are on the spectrum?  Take an online Locus of Control test here. 

[1] Gershaw, D, “Locus of Control”,  adapted from Simons, Irwin and Drinnin’s Psychology: The Search for Understanding, West Publishing, 1987, pages 493-495.

Image Credit: Simone Paoli via Flickr