The things we believe don’t simply arrive out of thin air. There are always really good reasons and even more interesting stories behind any set of belief systems. We’re subject to layers and layers of belief systems that shape the way we think, behave, and respond to – and in our environment.

Belief is the super power sending signals into the universe that work to create the ricochet experiences that bounce back and become your reality. Your life is literally created and sustained by the thought patterns generated by your current belief system. Whatever you believe shapes how you experience and respond in life and relationships. Belief is a form of mental energy that not only affects your behavior – it also influences your physical responses and inner reactions.

Here’s a hypothetical example of how belief works:

Man (A), let’s call him Chris, takes a walk through an unfamiliar neighborhood when he runs into a few men in dark clothing. The men also are wearing hoodies and appear to be coming closer to Chris. Chris suddenly feels a mild sensation of fear and the sensation increases when the few men walk closer to him. Chris begins sweating and his heart starts to beat so fast he can hear it in his eardrums. The few men in dark clothing walk straight by Chris, who then breathes a sigh of relief and safely goes on about his day.

The few men in dark clothing turn the corner and notice a woman struggling with a heavy box. The woman notices them and secretly hopes one of them will help her across the street with the box. One of the men sees her struggling and walks up and catches the box before she drops it. The woman is pleased so she smiles and tells him she just needs help taking the box a few feet away to her car. The man helps her bring the box to her car, she thanks him, passes him a tip for his kindness, he accepts it and hurries off to catch up with his friends.

Two different situations with the same group of men created drastically opposite reactions. Chris saw the few men and immediately believed that he was at risk. His beliefs caused him to experience fear and that fear induced the physical reaction of sweating that is normal for Chris when he is afraid. On the other hand, the woman perceived the few men as strong enough to help her with such a heavy box. She managed to get the help she needed by sending a few strong signals out for the attention of these men as they walked by.

And this is the enormous power of belief.

Whatever we think about our world, the people we engage with, and the circumstances we’re in, will always be affected by what we believe is true. To a large degree we control the outcome of most situations based on what we believe should happen. This is exactly why you should always be re-evaluating and checking your belief systems. Defeatist beliefs – lead to defeatist thought patterns – that produce like-minded results, and the reverse is true. If a belief is positive it will most likely include positive thoughts that will generate like-minded experiences.

Let’s assume positive thoughts are those that connect to abundance, happiness, confidence, optimism, prosperity, gain, and good experiences.

Negative thoughts would offer a connection to the complete opposite; doubt, sadness, lack, pessimism, loss, fear, and poor experiences.

It is important to keep and open mind and be constantly checking your belief systems to determine whether those systems line up with the things you want to happen. Self-defeating beliefs go hand in hand with poor experiences and it can be as simple as retraining and challenging your belief systems to improve and become more successful in every thing that you do.

We are constructed with three main systems of belief: Familial, cultural, and societal. Each system is drawn from the experiences of the people who create and value them. Parents pass down beliefs for good reasons and do so hoping that the things they teach will serve as protection and guidance on the journey of their offspring. Cultural beliefs can be anything from believing that a man must be the first person to walk over the front door threshold following a New Year holiday or the family risks being burdened with bad luck the entire year – or placing a woman’s pocketbook on the floor will ensure she’s broke and without money for a long time. Some families believe a woman should be seen and not heard, and same for the children.

In society it’s clearly suggested that women should be married before having children and this spills over into what we believe. Believing this can even cause bad judgment or alienation against some women that have not adhered to this belief system. But are these beliefs true?

Probably not. There have been many studies that prove single parents, and women in particular – go on to lead very productive lives despite parenting alone or unmarried. Is it somehow harder or more difficult for them? That too would be a matter of belief, because life proves itself challenging for most people.

But do we have a choice in what we believe?

Of course we do. At any given moment the yin and yang are present for us to experience. We have a choice to focus on the things that brings us joy, peace, love, and happiness. As much as bad things are a reality, so is the opposite. It does not benefit anyone to put heavy focus only on the things that disturb inner peace and productivity. You should not completely ignore the bad things, but careful consideration of how you allow them to affect you is key.

When situations seem to be going all wrong, practice challenging those poor experiences with positive thoughts. Everyone has positive experiences stored in the back of their minds, and these can be used to work your way out of situations that do not inspire you. The more you can guide your mind toward believing things are better than they appear, the more your experience will shift to reflect those thoughts and beliefs.

The great philosopher, mathematician, and scientist – Rene’ Descartes once said, “If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.”

I couldn’t agree more. The day we risk abandoning our belief systems to explore more possibilities is the day we position ourselves for infinite growth and perspective.

Be sure that what you believe is helping you and others, and not hurting you on your journey.