What is your B.S.? Rude question, right? Actually, after I get raised eyebrows from my clients, I quickly explain that I’m really after crucial information: What are your Belief Systems? We all live our lives, speaking and acting based on our beliefs. People have many levels of beliefs, ranging from fairly inconsequential, “surface” beliefs, to deep-rooted “core” beliefs. These core beliefs are connected to each other so that one could describe it as an interrelated root structure – a belief system.
This could be the beginning of a college level course in philosophy, particularly epistemology. the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. For purposes of simplification, let’s say that epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion. On one level, perhaps we can never truly know anything for sure, but living in a scientific world, we deal with “facts” and “truths”. In other words, “justified beliefs”. Like the earth is round and rotates around the sun. Or that all matter is made up of atoms. It is helpful to remember that at other periods of history, in other civilizations, beliefs quite counter to these were popularly held to be “facts” and “truths”.
Aside from the philosophical rabbit hole, where does this enter into our work as change agents? Finding out what are a person’s core Belief Systems can be a very valuable starting place. Some of our beliefs lie at the conscious level – we are aware of them – but many of them are held unconsciously. Just like a root system for trees, they are not visible, they are below the surface. In ways that we are not aware of they affect our thoughts, speech, feelings and actions.
Hypnotic coaching, which is the combination of trance work with cognitive discussion before and after hypnosis, can be a particularly effective tool for uncovering, examining, and CHANGING belief systems. If a belief or belief system, is helpful and congruent with a healthy, meaningful life, then by all means, one would want to keep it! However, if it is limiting a person unnecessarily from achieving health, happiness, meaning and purpose, then why not change it?
1) The client holds a relatively low level job (prison barber) but dreams of opening his own business. Every time he begins to make a plan to achieve this, he manages to find reasons not to continue. In the course of gathering personal history, a simple phrase from childhood is deeply revealing. “My father always said, ‘the nail that sticks out, gets hammered’.” This led to a core belief system that to survive, to avoid harm, you have to fly under the radar. Don’t do anything to attract undue attention. What is the solution? Subsequent sessions led to developing a conversation in trance with the (long dead) father, where the client was able to individuate, and tell dad that he was ready to take the risk of getting noticed.
2) A young woman wants to become more prosperous, but is conflicted. Her parents were “hippies” and her childhood was heavily influenced by counter culture ideology. Exploratory work reveals two underlying belief systems. The first is that “I am a good person”. The second is “Money is bad (the root of all evil). As long as both of these are held – albeit at an unconscious level – she can never have money without becoming a “bad person”. The work to resolve this involved redefining money and improving her relationship with prosperity and abundance.
3) The client, a successful divorced businesswoman in her mid 40’s has the goal of losing weight. She knows that her current weight is not healthy. There are two underlying belief systems that need to be rooted out and examined, with the idea of challenging and possibly changing them. The first is that in order to compete in a male-dominated world of business, she needs to be able to “throw her weight around”. It is a protection (armor) and lends her more authority. The second belief is based on past experience where, several times after considerable weight loss, she found the confidence to go out socially, and had a series of bad experiences with men who found her attractive and “hit on her” in rude or inappropriate ways. Hypnotic work involved the discovery, or creation of the archetype of an internal “female warrior” who was lithe, fit, and could make better choices, as well as assert herself without the poundage. An additional lifestyle decision was made to begin martial arts training.
These are a few concrete examples from past client files. What is your B.S.? Do you believe in heaven and hell? Karma? Reincarnation? Vegetarianism? Darwinism? The early bird gets the worm? A person needs eight hours of sleep a night? Biorhythms? Astrology? Children should be seen and not heard?
Einstein reputedly said something along the lines of “The key question is, is the universe friendly?” If you are raised with core belief systems that it is a “dangerous world out there”, that it’s “every man for himself”, and you constantly have to look over your shoulder and distrust other’s motives, that leads to one mindset. If you are raised with, or develop a core belief system that “the world is your oyster”, that “human birth is a precious opportunity”, you move through life looking for opportunities, rather than problems or limitations.
The universe is neither friendly nor unfriendly. But your perceptual reality is the lens that you choose to view it through.