I think you’ll agree that the power of belief is a bit mysterious.
There are millions of questions we could ask. Here is a sampling:
- What IS belief?
- Is it different for each person or is there an objective reality behind it?
- Why is belief easy for some people and excruciatingly hard for others?
- How can an individual change, improve, and use the power of belief?
Like I said, there are millions of questions. And I can’t answer all of them.
But I have spent a significant amount of time pondering, observing, learning a bit, and applying what I’ve seen – and I believe I can help.
So, regarding the power of belief, I’m going to…
- Show you why and how our beliefs underly everything we feel, think, and do
- Explain how even your negative feelings can be impacted and overruled by belief
- Show you how truth-based beliefs, applied diligently, can change the outcomes you experience in life.
Ready? Let’s get started.
We don’t expect a computer to operate like a car.
Because it’s a computer, not a car.
Computers compute. Cars drive.
The two are designed differently which results in differing functions.
They were each made to specifically do what they do.
As human beings, created in the image of God, we operate according to the same principle.
It all begins with our wiring (that’s my way of saying it). It’s the way we human beings are designed by our Maker.
And if we can understand the basics of how we are designed as human beings – we’ll be able to understand more of how we function AS human beings.
And that’s something worth knowing when it comes to the power of belief.
Diving into the unseen
There’s a part of us that is hidden, unseen – what some biblical authors call the “inner man.” That term is fine but I lean toward referring to it as the soul.
We’ll take the time to dissect the particulars of what makes up the soul in a later post, but for now, it’s enough to say that nobody can see it, not even us.
But even though it’s unseen, the soul is ESSENTIAL to how we function as human beings made in the image of our Creator.
I believe that the soul is the realm of belief – so you can see why we’re talking about this.
That statement may strike you odd – we tend to think of belief as a function of the mind or the brain – and that’s right.
But the soul is where mind, will, and emotion reside – in fact, mind, will, and emotion are what make up the soul.
It’s in the soul that those three aspects of our personality intersect in a complex stew of human messiness (most of the time).
They are the sum of who we are.
But it’s also where the beauty of being “fearfully and wonderfully made” is most apparent (Psalm 139:14).
Here’s how I see it… on the bottom half of the diagram…
Take a minute to look at the bottom half of the diagram. You’ll notice that belief and thinking are shown as two separate things.
That’s because it appears that they ARE different things.
Beliefs are foundational. They are at the core of how we function.
Yet, we aren’t always aware that they even exist.
And they dictate the way we interact with the people and circumstances we face in life.
You see the beliefs of the people around you expressed every day.
- Why does she respond so dramatically to everything?
- He’s always bragging about his accomplishments. Why?
- She hardly ever asks about me. Conversations always wind up being about her struggles.
- It’s always somebody else’s fault in his mind. He’s always the victim.
The power of belief, that’s why. 😉
And it doesn’t matter if the beliefs are true or not.
It doesn’t even matter if they are based in reality or fantasy.
What we believe necessarily dictates how we interact with the world around us.
How does it work?
The power of belief manifests in our lives like this…
Let’s pick something common to illustrate how it works: Let’s say you tend to believe that other people don’t like you.
There may be legitimate reasons for you to believe it. There may not be.
Regardless of how or why, you believe it.
#1 – It all STARTS with belief.
So, to play out our imaginary situation let’s say that you walk into a room and see a handful of people you know.
A couple of them smile at you. One of them even waves.
But there’s another person, a woman, who you don’t know well but you do know her.
She glances up at you then continues the conversation she’s in.
#2 – You immediately begin to think something about her actions BASED ON what you already believe.
“She doesn’t like me. She’s never really liked me. I wonder why?”
Because her response is filtered through your preconceived belief, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll examine what you’re thinking.
It resonates with what is already “true” in your belief system, so why question it?
So you keep asking the pointless questions that will only lead you to a worse place…
This is where your beliefs begin to manifest in the outward world, where their effect can be seen.
#3 – Feelings rise that validate what you already believe and think.
Your emotions are responders, plain and simple.
They respond to what you think, which comes from your beliefs.
Your emotions aren’t bad or good – they are simply responses.
So… since you BELIEVE that people don’t like you… and you THINK that the woman who glanced at you doesn’t like you, and her quick glance confirms that to you…
… you begin to FEEL upset about her response.
You may be hurt. You might become angry.
But your emotions respond in alignment with what you think, because of what you believe.
And it happens this way EVERY TIME.
#4 – Actions flow out of what you feel, based on what you already believe and think.
Since your beliefs and your thoughts and the corresponding emotions have convinced you from the inside-out that what you believe is true, you act on it.
You typically can’t help but act on it.
You may give the woman the cold shoulder.
You may glare at her all evening.
You might give in to insecurity and withdraw from everyone, extrapolating your beliefs about her actions to be demonstrative of the way everyone feels about you.
You might overcompensate by becoming boisterous, trying to be the life of the party so everyone WILL like you.
You could leave immediately to go home and pout.
But the truth is that your actions flow out of your feelings, which respond to your thoughts, which are based on what you already believe.
And it all combines based on the particulars of the circumstance you find yourself in. And all of this happens in nanoseconds.
At the root of this domino-effect process is this truth: Your BELIEFS RUN THE SHOW.
See, that’s not so complicated. 😉
Your life is amplified by the power of what you believe.
It could happen in a negative way – like in the situation above.
It could happen in a positive way – for example, if you refused to believe that the woman’s action represents anything except that she didn’t think about her actions at all, or she’s engrossed in a gripping conversation, or she’s just as insecure and uncomfortable in crowds as you are.
But as a follower of Christ, there’s an additional, vital question to consider:
Is this believe-think-feel-act process happening in a way that amplifies Jesus’ work in your life, giving glory to Him and aligning you with His purposes for you? Or is it doing the exact opposite?
THAT is the thing that matters.
The good news is that you are not a victim of your preconceived beliefs.
- Beliefs can be examined.
- Beliefs can be changed to align with truth (not what you feel or have learned to believe).
- Those new beliefs can lead you to better, greater, more Christ-honoring thoughts and actions (and sometimes, even feelings).
And YOU get to decide whether it will happen that way or not.
Yes, the Holy Spirit is in you. Yes, he could transform all of this and make you a perfectly Christ-like person in your beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and actions – on the spot.
But He typically does the work through the means of your faith-based determination.
As you BELIEVE (there’s that word again) that He has already made you an overcomer (Romans 8:37), a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), one who is inhabited by the King of the universe (Galatians 2:20)…
Then you begin the work of THINKING on that level, understanding what it means for you practically in the relationships and day to day activities of life…
Then you may begin to FEEL you are something more, a victorious child of the King, a co-laborer with Him in making a difference in the world…
Then you have the opportunity to ACT “as if” all of that is true. Because it is.
The power of belief is that it is what enables us to embrace God’s reality, to see the world (and our role in it) as He sees it.
As you and I come to understand that and apply it practically – THEN we get to see the new creation we really are come to life and become a blessing.
I find myself in need of reminders about this process, this truth – regularly.
One of the most effective ways for me is through music – and there are certain bands that are particularly effective at helping me out. Switchfoot is one of them.
Here’s a song right along the lines of this topic. I encourage you to ponder the lyrics – and be careful you don’t hear them saying “Self-effort is the key.” That’s NOT what they are saying.
The message is simple…
Don’t let the beliefs of the past keep you from fulfilling God’s future. You get to choose.