Belief systems are immensely powerful and dictate many of the decisions and actions we take. A belief system you hold may be real to you, but it may not actually be real. Because you believe it and it seems real, it becomes your reality and you act as if it is real.
The mind is an amazing thing and each year scientists are discovering new and fascinating things about this miracle of nature. The following information describes surprising facts about the brain and maybe indicates how our thinking processes and belief systems can affect our bodies so much.
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt
The Science of the Brain
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have spent the past few years engineering a new imaging model, which they call ‘array tomography’. In conjunction with novel computational software, they stitch together image slices into a three-dimensional image that can be rotated, penetrated and navigated.
They found that the brain’s complexity is beyond anything they’d imagined. ‘Almost to the point of being beyond belief,’ says Stephen Smith, a Professor of molecular and cellular physiology, and senior author of the paper describing the study.
A typical, healthy brain houses some 200 billion nerve cells, which are connected to one another via hundreds of trillions of synapses. Each synapse functions like a microprocessor, and tens of thousands of them can connect a single neuron to other nerve cells. In the cerebral cortex alone, there are roughly 125 trillion synapses, which is about how many stars fill 1,500 Milky Way galaxies.
These synapses are, of course, so tiny (less than a thousandth of a millimetre in diameter) that humans have not been able to see with great clarity what exactly they do and how, apart from knowing that their numbers vary over time. That is, until now.
One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor than a mere on/off switch – with both memory storage and information processing elements. In fact, one synapse may contain around 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth!
Smith adds that this gives us a glimpse into brain tissue at a level of detail never before attained: ‘The entire anatomical context of the synapses is preserved. You know right where each one is, and what kind it is.’
These facts about the brain really underline the power of the mind and how we can use it to our advantage, according to our current understanding. We also know that as the years go by and our ability to investigate deeper will reveal even more staggering facts about our mind that will make today’s stunning revelations appear ordinary by comparison.
“You become what you believe.” Oprah Winfrey
I believed I couldn’t go straight to sleep
Difficulty getting to sleep can sometimes be attributed to a belief system you have developed over time. A belief system may tell you that, ‘you always have trouble getting to sleep,’ or, ‘if you wake up you can’t get back to sleep.’
I used to believe that if I came in from a networking event or a party late at night I would have to get a drink of milk, watch TV and unwind for about an hour before I could go to bed. If I didn’t I would be too ‘wide awake’ to fall asleep.
Sure enough, every time I came in from an evening event I was convinced that I was ‘too wired’ to go straight to sleep. So I would go through my ‘tried and tested’ routine and, lo and behold, I would be asleep within a couple of minutes.
About 9 years ago I created a new rule where the TV would be switched off at 9PM and I could read or listen to my radio instead. Not long after this new rule was in place, I came home late one evening and was about to put the TV on but realised that I couldn’t switch it on.
I didn’t fancy listening to the radio or reading, so I went to bed and amazingly I was asleep within a couple of minutes.
This really surprised me and since then I go straight to bed when I get in and fall asleep straight away. I now have a new belief system that tells me I can go straight to bed when I get in late from an event. This new belief system is in place because I believe it’s true, so it works.
I wonder what belief systems you have in place which are real to you but are not, in fact, real?
What is a Belief System?
We all have belief systems that are personal to us and have been developed by all the experiences we have been through up to this point in our lives. You may have a fear of speaking, or believe that people you meet don’t like you, or you think that you can’t get back to sleep when you wake in the night.
Some of the great minds of the past gave us great insight into the power of the mind:
“Whether you think you can or can’t, either way you are right.” Henry Ford
Jonathan Wells put it so well when he described how our personal belief systems are developed:
“Our personal beliefs play a huge role in how we view our own life. Your estimation of your successes and failures will depend entirely on the framework of your personal beliefs. Our beliefs provide a structured process through which we evaluate everything in our lives.”
Thoughts for the week
- Take a situation where you are struggling with negative emotions.
- Think deeply about this situation and why you feel this way.
- Write down your thoughts.
- See if you can challenge your belief system about this.
- Create a new belief system to add to your map of reality.
- Repeat this over and over again until this becomes your new reality.
Well that’s it for this week have a wonderful weekend and keep believing.