Barriers to Changing Basic Beliefs

Like many other aspects in life, knowing how to do something does not mean that it will be easy.  It is the same with basic beliefs: knowing how to change them is simple but still may be difficult. Being aware of potential barriers, should they arise, will prevent surprise and discouragement, so let’s look at some of the possible impediments  to change.

First: be aware

A major barrier to change occurs if you are unaware that basic beliefs even exist. Realize it or not, they underlie all thoughts and behaviors, acting automatically without conscious awareness. When they remain hidden in the subconscious without examination by the conscious mind, they continue their influence unimpeded.

One of the benefits of the thinking brain is that it has the ability to examine the subconscious mind and bring basic beliefs up to conscious awareness for examination and possible change. Nevertheless, you could live and die without ever being aware of the controlling nature of the feeling brain.

Change must be needed and desired

Without sufficient reason, you will not be motivated to go to the trouble of changing. The need may arise from new information, changed circumstances or the realization that your quality of life and mental health would be improved if you believed differently.

The desire to change comes from a need to do so. Question: “How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?” Answer: “Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change.”  Apathy and procrastination also  inhibit change. Without a strong desire to change, it will not happen.

Anxiety must be low

Changing a basic belief in the feeling brain requires unimpeded use of the thinking brain. However, if you are in the throes of anxiety, you are more likely to be implementing a defense mechanism rather than using a clear mind to address the underlying cause. Therefore, changing a basic belief requires low anxiety. I will discuss how to reduce or  prevent anxiety in the next post.

Reason doesn’t help

To complicate matters, you could hold the mindset that your capacity to reason is sufficient to resolve issues arising from the feeling brain or that you can logically find a solution t0 a problem without examining its subconscious cause. It is a measure of the arrogance of intelligence to think that the intellect of the thinking brain can prevail over the power of the feeling brain. The result is a great deal of unnecessary suffering.

Many people consider the subconscious mind such a dark and mysterious place that the thought of poking around in there causes them to quickly dismiss the idea. Accepting the status quo may be preferable to delving into the abyss of the unknown. Nevertheless, basic beliefs reside in the subconscious, so that is where you must search for the solution to the problem. Admittedly, the subconscious is not an area most people spend a significant amount of time exploring, but considering the potential benefits, it can be highly rewarding.

The biggest obstacle to change

Now consider the most difficult problem to overcome in changing a basic belief. It may not be hard for you to accept that basic beliefs underlie all feelings and behaviors, and you might even welcome the opportunity to explore your subconscious mind as a new and exciting adventure. But recall one of the major characteristics of basic beliefs: they are true.

Even after the thinking brain identifies a specific basic belief as the source of a problem that needs addressing, the feeling brain may be spectacularly uncooperative; the two may be in serious conflict. Since basic beliefs are true, the feeling brain is duty bound to hold on to them, to protect them and to resist any effort to change. It has no assurance that a change would be beneficial, so it wants to keep what it has, thank you very much. The feeling brain may go so far as to generate conscious thoughts that argue strongly  against changing what is true. This is certainly a peculiar state of affairs in human behavior; that we subconsciously resist changes that we logically and reasonably believe would be beneficial, causing us to frequently work against our own best interests.

The final barrier

Even after surmounting the barriers to change mentioned above, one final difficulty remains: you may not have the faintest idea of how to go about searching for a basic belief or what to do about it once identified. We’ll consider how to solve this problem in the next post.

A question for your consideration and comment

Consider a basic belief that you would like to change. What is keeping you for doing so?

Next step: Go to How to Change a Basic Belief