When we believe a story, it is our mind’s job to make it appear true, and it does a pretty good job at it.
Some of the ways I notice this happens…
- The mind looks for evidence, and selectively pick out that which supports the initial belief and leaves out (or explain away) that which counters it. The input is filtered.
- Supporting beliefs are formed and maintained. New beliefs support the initial one.
- Behaviors flow from beliefs, and these tend to create effects that appear to support the initial belief. Beliefs are sometimes self-fulfilling.
- Beliefs have certain experiential effects, such as reactive emotions, muscle tension and shallow breath, and these may be taken as a confirmation that the belief is true. It feels true, so it must be true.
Say I believe that people shouldn’t lie.
I can find lots of evidence to support that belief, including people and philosophies who are in agreement. I can find lots of good reasons why people shouldn’t lie, including practical and ethical ones. I support people who speak honestly, and confront those who don’t, so there is a pleasant relationship with the former and an unpleasant one with the latter, which provides more proof for my belief. And whenever people lie, it feels awful, I get tense, sad, angry, reactive, which is just further proof that people shouldn’t lie.
Or I believe that life is hard.
I can easily find evidence for that in the world and my own life. People get sick, starve, are victims of violence, exposed to natural disasters, die, and much more. The news is full of examples, and evidence, for life being hard.
I have stories supporting the one of life being hard. We are all at the mercy of an uncaring universe. We are all tested in this school of life, and either pass or don’t. Life is red in tooth and claw.
I get so bogged down by believing that life is hard, and all the evidence and stories supporting it, that life really feels hard. Life gets hard with that belief. I also choose to not act on things that could make it easier, because what good would it do?
Believing life is hard makes it feel that way, I honestly experience life as hard, daily. Also, whenever people act as if life is not hard, I feel uncomfortable, and whenever life shows up in ways supporting the belief that life is hard I feel relief. And finally, that belief gives that familiar comfortable feel of being somber, honest, hard working, stoic, hard nosed, a realist, and maybe a victim. And all of those makes it feel true. Life is hard, because it feels that way.