Belief is a funny thing. I used to think that it was entirely objective. The mind receives information, processes it and creates the appropriate belief. There is no room for choice; our beliefs depend entirely on the information we have absorbed. If this were true, it would be ridiculous to judge someone for their beliefs. After all, they have no choice in the matter!
While I still believe that people should not be judged for beliefs, time and reflection have reversed my opinion on the matter of choice; all belief is rooted in choice. But why? How can something as important as belief be subject entirely to whim?
The reason is uncertainty. Every piece of knowledge has inherent uncertainty. Our tools for measuring and interpreting information are inaccurate. Although some areas like science; provide a high degree of certainty, others such as morals provide virtually none. Even the most established facts could be and often have been proven to be false by new discoveries.
Unlike knowledge, beliefs do not have the luxury of uncertainty. We either believe something or we do not. In order to go from uncertain knowledge to certain belief, the mind has to fill in the gaps. It has to look for additional information and draw conclusions. This is where choice is used to develop and reinforce belief. As soon as we choose to believe something, our mind goes to work gathering information that supports our rationale.
This is why positive beliefs are so important. It is impossible to know for certain if our efforts will be met with failure or success. No matter how confident we are, it is possible that outside forces will ruin our plans. We make a conscious decision to believe we will succeed or that we will fail. We can always rationalise either belief.
My belief determines which set of facts I focus on. When I lose confidence and dwell on failure, I come up with even more facts to add to the failure list, strengthening the failure belief. When I choose to believe in success, positive facts emerge. The belief you choose to accept will become stronger over time through this pattern of self reinforcement.
Although positive belief does not guarantee success, I doubt that success is possible without it. Not because of the belief itself but because of the chain of thoughts and actions triggered by a positive belief. When we believe we can succeed, our mind overcomes obstacles. We solve problems creatively and are eager to take action.
How do you control our beliefs? The key is realising that it is possible. We do not have to a slave to every thought that pops into our head. If we want to believe we can succeed, just start doing it. When negative thoughts enter our mind, recognise them for what they are and discard them. Do not be oblivious to negative feedback; rather, use it constructively and refuse to let it dominate us. Consciously remind ourselves of the positive and allow the negative to roll off our back.
There really is not a downside to believing in ourselves and believing the best about others. We may not achieve our original goal and might get burned, but we will be better off than if we had assumed the worst from the start. Believing we will succeed will also make us happier. Although it may be partly delusion, the same is true of the failure belief. We have to believe in something, why not believe that our hard work is contributing to something positive? Why not believe that our biggest dreams are possible?