An actor, preparing for a role in which he plays an older man with a pronounced limp, practices his limping gate continuously in his real life for many weeks prior to his performance.
He finds that even after the run of the play is over, he is still limping, and has to relearn, by changing the belief that he has a problem leg, to walk as if his leg is completely healthy.
Picture a baby elephant chained by the leg to an iron post (not a pleasant
image, but useful here simply as a memorable example). As the elephant grows to his natural mammoth size, he is still restrained by the same chain. He does not try to escape even though he is now strong enough to rip the chain easily from the post. Why?
Belief, says medical doctor and author Deepak Chopra in his CD series and book, “Magical Mind, Magical Body.”
According to Dr. Chopra, the elephant believes that he cannot break the chain, although his belief has no basis in reality. Chopra has seen this phenomenon among the working elephants in his native India, and offers it as an example of the power of belief. Like the elephants, he says, we often believe that we can not do certain things when, in fact, we can.
The ability to espouse a particular belief is an immensely strong internal power that lies within everyone, including animals of all types. It is, unfortunately, also a power that can work against our best interests because, as in the case of the elephant, our beliefs are often based on false notions. And, like the elephant, we allow our false beliefs to limit our movements – our emotional and personal growth – and prevent us from moving forward.
For example, perhaps you believe that you are ‘not good at math’ because you had difficulty with math in elementary and high school. That particular belief may prevent you from doing something you want to do as an adult, such as studying architecture.
But, what if your difficulty with math was really due to ineffective teaching or your own immaturity and lack of motivation? Like the elephant, you are held back by a false belief.
What you believe can also affect your health. If you believe (whatever the reason might be) that you have a serious illness, you may actually experience symptoms of that illness even though there is no medical validation of its existence.
As Dr. Chopra advises in “Magical Mind, Magical Body” we need to become better educated about the mind/body connection so that we can use it to create health, growth, and emotional strength in our everyday lives.
It is important to understand that we are the ‘programmers’ of our mental and emotional software, with the ability to re-program ourselves from a negative belief system to a positive, growth supporting belief system.
Chopra says, “Until you break free of your imaginary boundaries – the product of years of false conditioning – you cannot be totally free.”
Based in Rockport, life and relationship coach Susan Britt, M.Ed., a psychotherapist and former university director of career and counseling services, teaches individuals, couples and families to resolve relationship issues, clarify and achieve life and career goals, and accelerate personal growth. Questions and comments may be addressed to her at firstname.lastname@example.org and by telephone 978 546-9431.