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by David Truman

Who can doubt that beliefs shape destiny? Beliefs color our every experience -- of people, of events, and even of ourselves. They determine what we feel, how we act and react. In particular, anyone who wants fulfilling love ought to understand the impact of beliefs on intimacy.
Are we products of experiences, or of beliefs?
Interpretation (belief ABOUT experience) is even more powerful than experience itself.
How can we control the beliefs that shape our lives? One way is to try to control experiences. You see, many people maintain that beliefs are the result of experiences. And from that premise, it follows logically that the best way to control our beliefs -- perhaps the ONLY way -- is to control our experiences: avoid bad experiences, and create good ones.
But there's a flaw in that approach: owing to ingrained beliefs and attitudes, there is absolutely no guarantee that better experiences will change our mind. Imagine, for example, a man decides to take a vacation to improve his state of mind. But if he interprets all the events of his trip negatively, he will eliminate almost all of the positive value of his experience.
Interpretations are a form of belief, and as such, they are not dictated by experience. No matter what we experience, we always have the choice to interpret the experience however we choose. Therefore, experience is NOT a reliable way to control our beliefs.
Fortunately, belief is quite amenable to DIRECT control: We can simply believe what we choose to believe. That is freedom of interpretation.
Taking control over interpretation
Experiences change us in the manner and degree dictated by our interpretation of experiences.
Experiences change us. But HOW do they change us? Specifically, the WAY experiences change us is determined and controlled by our interpretation of those experiences. Accordingly, the direct way to improve our life experience and unlock the potential in ourselves is to change our beliefs directly. By adjusting our beliefs, we can change the present, the future, and even the past. Here's how it works:
Changing the present: It's how you look at it
How the present IS what we believe it to be.
We change the present by controlling our present attitudes. Therefore, the important question in human life is not, "What happened?" The important question is, "What did we make of it?"
Example: A woman was depressed about losing her job. To cheer her up, a friend said, "Maybe it would help to think of it this way: You wanted to make a career change. Well, this is your chance!"
The fact of losing her job could not be changed. But the beliefs about the meaning of the experience -- the INTERPRETATION of it -- could easily be changed. And that was a lucky break, because thinking differently about the apparent misfortune cheered her up (proving, once again, that our THOUGHTS about an experience affect us more powerfully, in the end, than the experience itself).
Both depression and joy result from interpretations.
Note, too, that the actual experience of losing her job could not, in and of itself, create depression. Only the negative thoughts ABOUT the experience -- "I've lost my job; I'll never be able to find another one," etc. -- could do that. The depression was eliminated by replacing those thoughts with constructive, uplifting ones.
By choosing how we INTERPRET, we literally choose how we FEEL. For example, if we believe everyone is out to get us, we feel bad. And conversely, if we believe life is generous and good, we feel good. Interpretation ALWAYS makes a difference where it counts -- at the level of feelings. New beliefs create new experiences IMMEDIATELY. It FEELS different to think differently, and to see new possibilities.
Now we know why one person walks away from an experience satisfied with the way things worked out, while another person, given the exact same experience, walks away resentful and bitter. Each person is affected in accordance with their different interpretations of their experience. Therefore, the responsible view of life is this: IT'S ALL IN THE WAY YOU LOOK AT IT.
Changing the future: Control expectations
Expectations represent yet another form of belief. Expectations are just beliefs about what's likely to happen. But with expectations, we enter the magical realm where we create what we expect -- the realm of self-fulfilling prophesy.
Why expectations don't just PREDICT what will happen --they often DETERMINE it.
If we expect something bad to happen, our fear will become a factor -- a powerful influence -- in determining the outcome of things. Imagine, for example, a woman believes she cannot talk effectively to groups. When she stands in front of a group, she freezes in fear. That is the result of her belief.
The reverse is equally true: If we believe something good will happen, we will feel optimistic, and our positive feelings will encourage positive results. For example, a man firmly believed that his buddy would be an excellent choice for personnel manager of his company. His convictions boosted his friend’s confidence, impressed his employer, and thereby set in motion a chain of events which led to his friend getting the job.
There can be no doubt that belief works powerfully through the life-shaping power of expectations.
Changing the past: Reinterpret events
Belief can craft experience in the present and future, making experience be what it is, and what it will become. But if you think changing the present and future is powerful magic, how about the power to change the PAST! Belief can interpret -- or reinterpret -- past experience, making it what it WAS. For example:
A woman noticed two of her co-workers whispering at lunch. She spent the rest of the day worrying that they were criticizing her. Driving home, she tried to figure out what she could have done to merit their disapproval. She realized that she hadn't given anyone reason to blame her, and that she had misinterpreted what she saw. Her worry faded instantly and her peace of mind returned.
How to change the effects of the past in the present.
In an important sense, the past is never over: If we re-interpret the past, we change how it affects us. Just as we are completely subject to the beliefs or interpretations we cling to, we are immediately freed from the effects of a belief or interpretation we change.
Celebrate the freedom of belief!
As we shape our life experiences through our beliefs or interpretations, we become co-creators of ourselves, our identity. In the Christian lexicon, this would be "in the image of God"... the Creator. This may well be one of the greatest gifts that God gives us, the opportunity to participate in the act of creation through wisely choosing interpretations.

by David Truman

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