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We all have things that we should be doing. We also, know full well, that we need to be doing these things. It may be different for everyone, but everyone has that list of things that they know they “should do.” Whether it is, saving money, losing weight, learning a new skill, etc. we tend to build up an impressive list of “Shoulda, Coulda, Wouldas.”

Our minds are complex. It is a super computer that runs our body, but also programs our actions during different stimuli. Think about one of the earliest lessons we learn. Fire is hot. Most of us learned that lesson the hard way. We stuck our hand over the fire or onto a hot surface and learned that it hurts. This is a learned response from 1st hand experience. A learned response is based on past experiences that we know to be true for that specific situation. Fire is always hot, so we know that we will always burn ourselves if we touch the flames.

Another type of program our minds create for us is based on emotional responses based on our beliefs. We see that in an example of our relationships. If you have ever been hurt by someone in a relationship, you might also know how hard it is to trust someone else later down the road. That is a response on an experienced emotion. You believe that you might get hurt so you hold onto negative feelings moving forward.

It is important to define our patterns and understand why we are doing the things we do. It will help us break bad habits and change our mindset so we can grow. Start by looking at a specific situation. Ask yourself where you started to believe that about that situation. In the example of the relationship from above, you would say I started not trusting people because someone hurt me in this situation in the past.

Next, analyze if it is a learned response based on experience or if it is a learned emotional response based on a belief. If that one person hurt you, will it happen with the next person you trust? No one can say that trusting someone will always end in disappointment and pain, or in Happiness and mutual respect.

Once it has been analyzed, it is time to redefine how you look at it. Using the same example, you may have been hurt in the past, but a new relationship is a blank slate. The situation and the people are different. Do not forget what happened in the past, however, do not let the past rob you of a new possibility. Try to recognize that your beliefs are influencing your actions and take steps to counter them. If someone betrayed your trust, try to forgive and move on. It is more important for your mental health than you may realize.

Beliefs are powerful and affect our actions al the time. Religious people try to shape parts of their lives around what they learn in their religious community. Kids beliefs are shaped by the words and actions of their parents and role models. Often, it takes years before we realize whether the beliefs we have built up are for better or for worse. It is not an easy path and takes years of active reflection. However, it is necessary for our mental, spiritual, and emotional growth.