Or are you a creative agent?


YOU are both the agent who decides dozens of times a day between two or more options, and the result of your decisions, or choices. These choices may be relatively unimportant, such as deciding what colour T-shirt to buy. Other times you have to decide if you are a Democrat or Republican (in America), or Conservative or Labour (in Britain), or African National Congress or Democratic Alliance (in South Africa). Sometimes you also have to decide if you are someone who allows something to happen to you, or if you are someone who stands up for yourself and does not allow it to happen. Do you allow yourself to be intimidated by something, or do you decide that you will no longer be intimidated by it? Do you still allow something that someone did or said to you a long time ago, or the fact that someone convinced you to believe certain things, to have an effect on your point of view and on your actions and behaviour, or do you decide to go in a different direction, and believe other things about yourself? Are you someone who believes you are a victim of what was given to you at birth and in the first years of your life until you developed the ability to think and decide for yourself (nationality, culture, socio-economic status, religious beliefs), or do you believe that you are a creative agent who can to a large extent create your own identity and your own life as it pleases you?

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Developmental biologist and self-improvement guru Bruce Lipton talks about programming in your psyche that is like a recording that plays back every time an incident, or a thought, or something someone says, presses the button. He also believes that we are able to change our programming – to replace a recording with one that is more supportive of who and what you want to be.

The author of You Are a Badass at Making Money, Jen Sincero, writes that you have to do things to challenge this old programming, especially if it doesn’t support what you are currently trying to do in your life – to in effect force the old programming to crawl out of its hiding place and expose itself.

And the author of Trading in the Zone, Mark Douglas, writes about beliefs that they are forms of structured energy. (Must be, he argues, because beliefs, like dreams and memories and other thoughts, do not consist of atoms and molecules.) He further believes that we do not change beliefs as much as we transfer energy from one concept to another – one that we will find more valuable in the process of fulfilling our desires and goals.

So it happened that I was thinking of things I spent money on this morning – a piece of clothing, and some items for breakfast that weren’t absolutely essential. I also enjoyed a light lunch in IKEA’s cafeteria. On the way home, I thought about the unusual quality of my Friday morning, and that I don’t usually spend that much money if I didn’t explicitly plan to do it.

I could almost hear my internal cassette player turning on. A decades-old recording started to roll – about someone who considers himself inherently poor and who believes it must be so.

That’s when I thought of Bruce Lipton, Jen Sincero, and Mark Douglas, and what they say about how one thinks and acts. I can confront such a negative thought, or I can replace the recording with something more useful.

Mark Douglas is very specific on this. That type of thought will most likely always get stuck somewhere in the hallways of my brain, and every now and then it will make an effort to be heard. What I can and should do is to formulate a more positive, more useful belief; deactivate, or undermine, the old belief, and then to energize the new belief. When I occasionally again hear the old recording, it doesn’t have to provoke much reaction: It will be like the barking of an old teethless dog.

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Seeing that many readers are probably unfamiliar with Mark Douglas, a short quote from a section of Trading in the Zone, entitled, “The Primary Characteristics Of A Belief”:

“Beliefs seem to be composed of a type of energy or force that naturally resists any other force that would cause them to exist in any form other than their present form. Does this mean that they can’t be altered? Absolutely not! It just means that we have to understand how to work with them. Beliefs can be altered, but not in the way that most people may think. I believe that once a belief has been formed, it cannot be destroyed. In other words, there is nothing we can do that would cause one or more of our beliefs to cease to exist or to evaporate as if they never existed at all. This assertion is founded in a basic law of physics. According to Albert Einstein and others in the scientific community, energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it can only be transformed.

If beliefs are energy – structured, conscious energy that is aware of its existence – then this same principle of physics can be applied to beliefs, meaning, if we try to eradicate them, it’s not going to work. If you knew someone or something was trying to destroy you, how would you respond? You would defend yourself, fight back, and possibly become even stronger than you were before you knew of the threat. Each individual belief is a component of what we consider to be our identity.

Isn’t it reasonable to expect that, if threatened, each individual belief would respond in a way that was consistent with how all the parts respond collectively? The same principle holds true if we try to act as if a particularly troublesome belief doesn’t exist. If you woke up one morning and everyone you knew ignored you and acted as if you didn’t exist, how would you respond? It probably wouldn’t be long before you grabbed someone and got right in their face to try to force them to acknowledge you. Again, if purposely ignored, each individual belief will act in the very same way. It will find a way to force its presence into our conscious thought process or behavior. The easiest and most effective way to work with our beliefs is to gently render them inactive or nonfunctional by drawing the energy out of them. I call this process de-activation. After de-activation, the original structure of the belief remains intact, so technically it hasn’t changed. The difference is that the belief no longer has any energy. Without energy, it doesn’t have the potential to act as a force on our perception of information or on our behavior.” [my italics]

Douglas then provides an example of past beliefs in Father Christmas and the Tooth Fairy that are now inactive, non-functional beliefs. These beliefs, he explains, still exist in his brain as concepts without energy. (According to him, beliefs are a combination of sensory experience and words that form an energetic concept.) Without energy, the concept no longer has the potential to put pressure on the perception of information or on the person’s behaviour. So if someone now tells the adult that Father Christmas is at the front door, he or she will dismiss it as a joke. Say it to a five-year-old child, and the words will immediately connect the child to a reservoir of positively-charged energy that would force him or her to jump up and run to the door, with no obstacle too great to overcome.

As an adult, therefore, the person has two conflicting beliefs about the world in his head: One is that Father Christmas exists, and the other is that Father Christmas does not exist. The difference between the two beliefs is that the first one has virtually no energy, while the second belief is charged with energy. There is therefore no functional conflict or contradiction.

Douglas believes that if one belief can be deactivated, any belief can be deactivated. The secret to successful belief change is the notion that you are not really changing your beliefs, but only transferring energy from one concept to another that is more valuable in your efforts to fulfil your desires or achieve your goals.

Active beliefs are therefore positively charged with sufficient energy to be able to put pressure on your perception of information, on your behaviour, and on how you express yourself.