TED Conversations

Simon Caira

Personal Coach, Peak Performance Techniques

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Our beliefs are based upon our experiences vs Our experiences are created by our beliefs

I guess it's fair to say that this could be considered a reality shifting question. It asks a lot. 2 statements similar in wording yet 2 statements that are worlds apart. When I realised which one I'd been living by I chose to adopt the other, and a weight was lifted momentarily as a new improved weight pressed down on me: the weight of the freedom within empowerment, which at first can seem even heavier: empowerment delivered by taking responsibility, delivered by considering the question.

So... I wonder... Which do you think is the way it is?
Care to say?

If you'd care to read: http://simoncaira.blogspot.com

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    Mar 20 2012: I disagree, Our beliefs are programmed in us from birth, from our parents,teachers,pastors etc. and our parents got it from there journey and parents, teachers etc.. our beliefs are not our own, were robots, basing are decisions and choices of our ancestors beliefs. until you go through life and analyze it for yourself. unplug yourself from the matrix and all you've been taught. and try to see life through your own lenses, and come up with your own beliefs then you are free.
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    Mar 4 2012: Hi Simon,
    I don't like limiting myself when exploring the life experience and learning. Once we decide it is one way "vs" another way, that feels limited to me. I like taking in information from all available sources, which means I'm open to all possibilities. Many times my beliefs are based on experiences, many times experiences are created by beliefs, and many times the experiences and beliefs are evolving simultaneously. I believe it is our thinking, logical mind, that may decide it will be one way or the other. When the heart, intuition, instinct AND the mind, logical thinking are working together in harmony, the possibilities are unlimited:>)
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    Mar 3 2012: No question about it, Our experiences are created by our beliefs.
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    Mar 3 2012: If you firmly believe a medicine to be beneficial it will do the job of healing. Believing is a powerful so you better only believe the things that are good and helpful. If you believe you have a good life and feel appreciation for it, good things will come to you. If on the other hand you believe your life is miserable, it will become that way.
    The world reflect your thoughts.
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      Mar 4 2012: Our outer world accurately reflects our inner world?
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    Mar 3 2012: A good question. In my opinion, it ought to be both, ie. we believe something, so our experiences are created accordingly AND we experinece something, so our beliefs are influenced by what we experience. But, where did the first belief come from? Probably the best thing that can answer this is a psychological approach called "Transactional analysis" and the "Parent-Adult-Child (P-A-C)" Model. Accoring to wikipedia, P-A-C states that "...At any given time, a person experiences and manifests their personality through a mixture of behaviours, thoughts and feelings..." So the first belief that shapes our experinece comes from an experience!

    Sources : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transactional_Analysis
    There's another fomrmer best-seller which contains excellent info : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I'm_OK,_You're_OK

    Vineet
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      Mar 4 2012: How early in our development might we begin forming beliefs?
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        Mar 5 2012: I guess we mostly form beliefs during childhood (pre-teenage), because that is the age when we don't find for reasons/proofs, but just accept whatever is happeining before us.
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        Mar 5 2012: Interesting ideas Simon and Vineet:>)
        It is scientifically proven that while still in the womb, babies start being influenced by the mother and activity around them:>) There's a TED talk on this subject...I'll put the link here when/if I can remember!

        Also scientifically proven that by the time a child is 2-4 years old, her/his personality is formed.
  • Mar 5 2012: Hummm, Maybe a hefty miscalculation may be found in the failure of recognizing the presence, and value of both, on the way to sorting out what is real....unless of course that isn't the goal?
  • Mar 4 2012: They definitely build off of eachother. It's like breathing; the only reason I exhale is because I have recently inhaled and wish to do so again in the future. When I experience something, I take the facts from the experience and shape my expectations of nature (aka beliefs) to fit the evidence. Because I am human, I like knowing that I am right, so when evidence comes along that doesn't quite fit the model, I will try to disfigure the evidence or the model so that they fit together. It's different from person to person; some people write new models, and some people fake the evidence.
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      Mar 4 2012: I know people who had their belief in God shattered after personal loss. Do you think that means they all blame God? Might it be they have entered a level of such sadness, low morale, or flatness, it suppresses and disconnects them in an unusual, never before experienced, way?
      • Mar 5 2012: Simon, I think some may or may not blame God. I don't think that it's necessarily a bad thing to blame God. I think we have a few BIblical stories that speak to this very issue. (Job, and the book of Habakuk speak to this very issue to name a few) I think the reason this occurs is due in part to normal grieving in this particular case, but further it speaks more deeply to the personal understanding of what and who and how "god' is and interacts for an individual. Certainly, in the case you describe, the person's expectation of who God is and how he or she interacts with humans was not fulfilled. This same sort of thing also occurs between friends, family, loved ones, or other close emotional bonded relationships. The key idea here being unmet expectation.

        I don't know that an individual can stay the same person after going through such a crisis. Crisis, loss or Big life events change us to one degree or another. I think the concept of belief is contoured and matured while we live through these experiences. Certainly, ones' own personal temperament also plays a role. I guess I see spirituality and belief as a meandering path rather than a tick mark on the map of life.
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    Mar 3 2012: I think that people live from their perceptions. I've seen people inadvertently turn experiences and event sour or better based simply on their own perceptions and experiences from the past.

    We have to remember that a person's perception is reality and the golden to them - even though it may not align with the facts. Shifting someone's perceptions/beliefs is usually very difficult because you are trying to convince someone to re-shape their own reality. Most human minds just aren't that flexible.
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      Mar 4 2012: Perception is key. In regard to enabling change in percetion/beliefs there is a way to make natural shifts purely by attending to the next level up on the personality hierarchy. What do you think the next level up might be?
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    Mar 3 2012: Someone who believes a fish can be caught by using a baited hook on the end of a line will probably have more experience at fishing than a person who rejects, or is unaware of, the idea. So, experience appears to be the effect with belief being the cause.
    Someone who never thought about the likelihood of catching a fish but just went ahead and fished, and caught a fish, will believe a fish can be caught with a hook and line. A person who never thought about fishing and never fished will be less likely to believe a fish can be caught. So, belief appears to be the effect with experience being the cause.
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    Mar 3 2012: I wonder whether we could really determine a solid distinction between experiences and beliefs. After all, we only know our experiences as they are filtered through our our senses, and therefore, our beliefs. I think that 'experience' is really more accurately one subset of beliefs. Experience actually means "a belief about what has happened" rather than "what has happened in actual fact", which would be more correctly described as an event. After all, if I do not believe something has occurred, how can I be said to have experienced it?

    Indeed, I often have entirely divergent experiences from those of other people who were present in the same room during an event. This is often the cause of misunderstanding, disagreement, and hurt feelings between myself and my fiancé. Both experience many more injuries than were ever intended by the other party, and after long discussion, generally each injured party sees that a peculiarity in how the event was interpreted by them altered their experience of it. Other seemingly straightforward experiences and memories are just as subjective. If anyone doubts this, I encourage them to explore optical illusions, which depend upon this principle. Subjectivity implies belief, and experience is subjective.

    That being said, when our beliefs are constantly challenged by experiences that are painful or events that are difficult to fit into our belief structures, then our beliefs can be changed (at least to a degree) because of our interactions with such thought-shifting elements. However, an optical illusion is still pretty convincing even when you know the trick of it. Life's illusions can be the same way. I think the mental trick is to find that to be neat when it happens instead of reacting with bitterness or embarrassment. This is hard to achieve or even remember when you are arguing with your significant other though! I think that is why we admire the great masters of the world. Most of them have this trick down ;)
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      Mar 4 2012: What do you think the great masters would do? How do you think they'd have this trick down specifically ?
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        Mar 5 2012: The trick to which I refer is an ability to 'try on' various perceptions of reality, and specifically, to see our problems from a detached and benign perspective rather than a deeply attached and embroiled perspective. I think that we as a species have traditionally venerated as 'masters' people who are successful in getting the timing of this mental and emotional maneuver down to instantaneous, and as a result live with calm through seeming adversity. People around them are awed by the way that they appear to meet the challenges of life with grace and ease.

        I think this is especially true of the great teachers who continue(d) to interact with other people on a regular basis, because remaining interactive requires an ability to straddle two perceptions of reality, an egoistic 'I' that allows one to function as a coherent unit in the world, and a detached 'selfless' persona that allows one to refrain from taking adversity personally (or perhaps from viewing anything as 'adverse' at all). I am reminded of both Jesus' phrase "in the world but not of the world" and the Buddhist path of Tantra, in which the practitioner meets the challenges and temptations of the world head-on in rapid succession in order to accelerate the journey toward nirvana.

        In my mind's eye, this is similar to 'getting' the trick of an optical illusion. I am thinking specifically about the old woman/young woman and duck/rabbit types of illusions that appear as different characters depending on how one shifts perspective, but any illusion might be played with in the same way (or even a mandala, perhaps?). The quicker a person is able to hop from one perception to another, the less that person feels himself to be (or appears to others as) bound by either perspective. If truly simultaneous multiple perspectives are achieved, I think that this may be another way of describing nirvana: release from the bounds of a singular perspective and its resultant suffering.
  • Mar 2 2012: Perhaps there is an interaction.
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    Mar 2 2012: Both are surely true. We interpret and in some cases also select our experiences in a way that is mediated by our worldview and beliefs. And our worldview and beliefs are shaped by our experiences. I don't see how one could reject the vaildity of either direction of influence.