If you were made to really, really believe that you couldn’t move your arm, what would be the effect? In principle you’d still be “able” to move it. But in practise it would be as if you couldn’t move it. You’d simply never try, and even if you tried, it’d be a half assed, “ha ha let’s see if I can fly” kind of try and you wouldn’t do it. You could only make a serious try if you were at least able to believe it were possible for you to move your arm. Until you started believing that, you wouldn’t be able to. In this way, a belief in an ability is very strongly linked to the ability to do something itself.
I heard a very interesting story about a hypnotist who used hypnosis to cure a disease that was considered psychologically generated. One day he healed someone, mistakenly thinking that he had such a disease. That person actually had a disease which was considered entirely physical – supposedly out of the reach of hypnosis – and totally incurable.
It turns out that hypnotists can cure such diseases, but only if they believe they can. Most people who had tried to cure such diseases before were doing the experiment “just in case” but secretly knew it wouldn’t work. And so it didn’t.
The Four Minute Mile
Another story which is easier to Google if you want to check that I’m not just bullshitting. The Four Minute Mile. I heard this from my cool headmaster when I was less than a metre tall. It stuck with me.
For a long time running a mile in four minutes was considered an impossible accomplishment. We have no record of anyone doing it before 1954, even though running is hardly a modern sport.
Then, in 1954, Roger Bannister ran a mile in 4 minutes.
2 months later, someone else did.
Let me remind you that this isn’t like doing a scientific discovery, where the field is constantly advancing and reaching a discovery is largely about the groundwork set by other people. Running has been happening for thousands of years, and one person’s running doesn’t – or shouldn’t – affect the level of humanity’s achievement in running as a whole. Not by much in any case.
But here is a person reaching a previously-considered-impossible goal only two months after the last person.
Since then hundreds, possibly thousands (a figure here would be cool if anyone knows one) of people have broken the 4 minute mile.
When Your Belief Becomes Your Ability
There are plenty of other areas in which your belief becomes your ability.
If you believe you can make a million dollars, you’ll be much more likely to do the actions necessary to make that money than if you don’t believe you can.
If you believe you can heal yourself psychologically and be happy, you’ll be much more likely to do the actions necessary than if you don’t believe.
If you believe you can be happy in your love life, whatever that means for you, you’ll be much more likely to take the actions necessary. (Most people just leave it up to fate, not realising that working on themselves is of key importance… but that’s another post).
Some say that we are fundamentally omnipotent and belief is EXACTLY the same as ability. That is, if you believed you could fly, you would. The mindfuck is that it’s just not that easy to change your beliefs. (Unless you believe it is?). It’s not as easy as saying “OK now I believe I can fly”. So don’t go jumping off any buildings yet. (Try taking off from the ground, dumbass).
I don’t know whether belief is EXACTLY the same as ability. Somehow I dislike any attempt to make anything that simple. But in any case it is very useful to ask the question, “To what extent is my belief limiting my ability?”
To admit the possibility that maybe a block in your path is not a fundamental part of reality, not your fundamental inability or a fundamental impossibility written into physical law, but a self-imposed block, caused by your belief.
Explore the possibilities that this opens up for you.