If you want to make life improvements, what you believe about life may be your biggest stumbling block. As a self empowered person working to build a better life you may need to adopt the saying that believing is seeing.
If you’re a person who believes that seeing is believing, you may be limiting your own growth.Seeing is believing may be the test of truth for many of us, but that doesn’t mean that what we see is truth. We tend to see what we expect to see based on what we believe. I may read and re-read this article five times and still not see a misspelling, extra word, or missing word. I read what I expect to see and I believe I’ve seen it correctly.
To foster a foundation for strong personal growth, change
that phrase to read: believing is seeing. What you and I
believe will determine what we see. Beliefs are very strong,
witness the number of terrorists willing to take their own
lives in pursuit of their beliefs. But before we examine the
link between beliefs and self empowerment, lets review our
five senses and the roles they play in our lives.
We obviously rely on our senses for safety and security,
watching for danger around us, listening for unusual sounds
around the home at night, sniffing the air for signs of
smoke, and carefully approaching the hot pan before grabbing
We also tend to depend on our senses to explain the world
around us. Most of us believe that the world we experience
through our five senses is reality. The sayings, “seeing is
believing,” and “I’ll believe it when I see it,” represent
our dependence on sight to confirm reality. Recall that most people at one time thought the world was flat; that’s the way it appeared. Some few, though, saw beyond their sense of sight and believed the distant horizon was not the edge of the world; they were right and whole new vistas of reality opened because of their vision.
Recall the phrase, “a picture is worth 1000 words?” The
implication here is that a picture tells the truth, while
words can be deceiving. Now with digital photography, we’ve
learned that we can’t really trust a picture. Even I can
easily manipulate a picture to remove or include objects. All is not as it appears.
We all know human hearing is limited. As we age, we lose high
frequency sensitivity. Many animals respond to frequencies
even youthful humans cannot hear. It is only recently that
scientists found that elephants communicate through very low
frequency sounds–sounds that travel tremendous distances in
their native habitats. We know that sounds exist that we
Similarly, our senses of touch, smell, and taste are very
limited. Not only do our sensitivities to these vary, but our
interpretations vary too. Something that tastes salty to me
may be perfect for you. Pleasant odors to you may be
distasteful to me.
Scientists, with fair regularity, uncover aspects of our
world well beyond our senses. From black holes to quarks to
dimensions beyond our space-time reality, there is more to
reality than we can currently explain.
It’s not only our vision that sometimes deceives us; our minds contribute, too. We see what we expect to see based on our beliefs. When you stop to think about it, that makes perfect sense. Why would I “see” something that contradicts what I believe? Most of us, most of the time, refuse to do that, albeit subconsciously. Scientists even have a term for this phenomena. It’s called cognitive dissonance, cognitive for thinking and dissonance for harsh inconsistency. We prefer to see Okinawa Flat Belly Tonic consistent with our thinking.
You’ve observed this before with a friend or relative who
smokes, but refuses to acknowledge that the risks of smoking apply to them. If you’ve just bought a new object, especially
something that you looked for carefully and made a studied
decision to purchase, you’ll tend to overlook defects or
limitations that turn up because to acknowledge them
invalidates your belief that you made a wise decision.
Cognitive dissonance gives us blinders that scientists term
scotomas, blind spots we can’t see because to see them would
require changing a belief.
If you have strong, long term beliefs about certain people
based on gender, age, race, or national origin, you’ll have a
scotoma to characteristics that belie that belief.
Now, what does all this have to do with self-empowerment?
Well, our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us
give us scotomas, blind spots, about who we are and who we
can become. An example of this is the once broadly held
belief that women are inherently inferior to men in math and
science. The saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”
captures another widely held belief about older people.
Don’t get me wrong, the beliefs we hold dear aren’t all bad.
In fact, our beliefs can be very helpful to us, when they are
helpful to us. The empowered person learns to use belief to
improve and to grow.
Belief about self is one of the critical components of a
person’s growth. A strong self image is fundamental to the
decision to take over responsibility for one’s life. A person
with low self image very likely will not feel sufficiently
confident to take full responsibility, preferring instead to
let others determine their life direction.