The Little Engine That Could is a much-loved children’s book. Was it read to you as a child or have you read it to a child or grandchild? That book was written in 1930 by Watty Piper. It was updated in 1991 and 2011 and has been a favorite through generations. We got to talking about that book because it is dear to both of us and the positive beliefs in it remain true over time. When faced with a hill that seemed insurmountable, the little engine in the book repeated, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!” as it chugged up to the top. We realize how much these positive beliefs can help us. However, negative beliefs can hurt us. All beliefs play a role in how we see the world and also how we create our life.
Beliefs are the ideas we have about who we are and how the world operates. We start learning these concepts in childhood, not only by what we read but also by what we learn through observation and experience.
People can espouse certain beliefs but if they don’t demonstrate them in their lives, people around them can get very confused. Have you had situations where you want to believe what someone is saying, but their actions say something else? As adults, we can often recognize when words and behavior are not congruent – but for children, they don’t yet have the knowledge to make these discriminations. Trusting what you believe can be very comforting as it provides a framework for relationships and life. It also helps you to set appropriate boundaries.
Beliefs are important because they can shape your life. If you believe that most people are bad or dishonest, you will always be looking for these things. That’s a problem because, when you look for the negative, you often miss many of the positives that happen. Beliefs shape your life because as Henry Ford said, “If you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right!” We came across some situations where beliefs definitely impacted results in life.
Take the example of Roger Bannister, a runner who refused to believe that people couldn’t run a mile under 4 minutes. Everyone thought it was impossible to do so, but he proved them wrong in 1954 by his performance which shattered that belief. He helped people to see that they shouldn’t set limitations on themselves and their performance. He said, “I’d like to see it as a metaphor not only for sport, but for life and seeking challenges.”
Another area where beliefs make a big difference is when people get a disease. The mind is powerful and beliefs can help combat illness. People can use positive imagery, meditation and prayer to help them feel supported by strength beyond their own strength through their Higher Power. When they believe in the healing power, it can positively help them in becoming healthier.
Bernie Siegel, M.D., author of many books on healing from cancer and other illnesses, also has worked with multiple personality disorder, now called DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder). He talks about how different personalities in the same person have different beliefs and manifest different illnesses. In documented cases one personality has diabetes or high blood pressure, while another personality in that same person, does not have those diseases.
These examples show the power of beliefs. Now let’s explore how beliefs can help you or hurt you. Beliefs can hurt you if you believe that you will never succeed. That might well prove to become true because your belief system might be stopping you. When you believe you don’t deserve something good, life will prove you right.
Beliefs can help you when you know you deserve to have an abundant life. You may find that all sorts of unforeseen opportunities pop up. When you get rid of negative beliefs, set your bar high and have good boundaries based on your positive beliefs, you’re more likely to have good things show up in your life.
What about you? What are your beliefs and how are they affecting your life?
Here are some thoughts: Decide what you really want in your life. Get rid of the negative beliefs that hurt you and build on the positive beliefs that help you. Remember, the Little Engine said, “I think I can” and when you say “I think I can”, your beliefs can help you reap success!