"Wanting to believe' has to do with our expectations and our motivations for establishing a new belief. When we 'want to believe' something, it is usually because we think that the new belief will produce positive consequences in our lives. ^Wanting to believe' something also involves the acknowledgment that we do not yet 'believe' it - the new belief has not yet passed our 'reality strategy* or the 'criterial equivalences' necessary for us to know that we have incorporated fully into our current model of the world.
Becoming 'open to believe* is an exciting and generative experience, typically accompanied by a sense of freedom and exploration. When we are 'open to believe', we are not yet convinced that the new belief is completely valid. Rather, we are gathering and weighing evidence which could support the belief. Being open to believe involves being fully immersed in the outcome frame, the feedback frame and the 'as if frame. We know that we do not believe it yet, but think, "Maybe it is possible." "It could be." "What would my life be like if I did take on this new belief?" "What would I have to see, hear or feel to become convinced that the new belief is valid and useful?"
The generalizations that we 'currently believe' make up our ongoing belief system. When we believe something (whether it is positive or negative; empowering or limiting), we fully commit to that belief as our current "reality." We congruently act "as if" that belief were true for us. It is at this point that the belief begins to take on the "self-fulfilling" properties associated with believing something (as in the 'placebo effect'). When we fully believe something, there are no questions or doubts in our minds.
Frequently, when we first attempt to take on a new belief, it comes into conflict with existing beliefs. A child who wants to believe, "I am able to ride a bicycle," must often contend with previous generalizations derived from the experience of falling down on many previous attempts. Similarly, a child who wants to believe, "It is safe for me to cross the street on my own," may first have to address and let go of the belief that his or her parents have established previously that, "You cannot cross the street by yourself, without an adult to help you."
It is not uncommon for such conflicting beliefs to arise as we begin to seriously consider believing in something new or different. Thus, the attempt to fully take on a new belief can frequently trigger or bring out conflicts and resistance with respect to other beliefs that have already been established as part of our existing belief system.
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