Yesterday we looked at Ruth, and the disconnect she experienced between her inner world of perceptions and beliefs, and her outer world of behaviors and experiences.
Unfortunately for Ruth, because she is unaware of the issues created by this gap, her situation is unlikely to improve until she begins to recognize some of the discrepancies between how she relates to her external environment, and how she identifies with her change.
Today I’d like to bring forth another example. This time, however, we'll take a look at how hidden beliefs can drive our behaviors in unexpected ways. I’ve drawn this example from an excerpt from a recently posted interview by
Gretchen Rubin with Gary Taubes. The topic of their conversation was habits in relation to Gary’s book, Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It.
In response to a question about “gaining a challenging healthy habit” or breaking an unhealthy habit, Taubes responded with a list of what he considered to be unhealthy habits that he had succeeded in changing. Almost in passing, Gary began his conclusion with the following statement:
“Now that I have to write a book, though, and it happens to be almost two years over due, I will probably go back to the coffee or at least caffeine to get it done. I may even start chewing nicorettes again, with the expectation that I’ll quit both — again — when the book is done.”
Can you find the hidden belief?
This sentiment fascinates me, because I believe it represents the power hidden beliefs can have in driving our behaviors without our really noticing. Let’s break the statement apart and see what surfaces:
Now let’s condense the sentence into if/then statements:
Do you see the hidden belief that Gary has about transition and change? In this case the change is writing the book and the transition is shifting into 'writing mode'.
It appears as though Gary believes that if he wants to succeed with this change of completing a book, he must engage in what he considers to be unhealthy habits during the transition.
Where did this belief come from?
I am in no way, shape or form attempting to judge Gary’s beliefs or his reliance on caffeine or nicotine. Rather, what I want to highlight is how our beliefs can drive behavior.
In Gary’s case, his belief that he needs caffeine and nicotine to finish writing his book has created the expectation that he must return to what he referenced as examples of unhealthy habits in order to accomplish his goal.
Let’s take a look at how this belief likely came to be.
So what’s the problem?
Gary might not have any problem with the idea of engaging in habits he had previously quit in order to complete his book. However, I believe there is a better way. I personally believe that these are surface beliefs that point to deeper held beliefs such as ‘writing a book is hard’, or ‘writing a book is draining.’ It is these deeper held beliefs that are driving the behavior of using caffeine and nicotine, and probably some other behaviors Gary didn’t mention in his interview.
Until we recognize our underlying beliefs and how they influence our behavior, we will continue to be a patsy to our beliefs. And while Gary’s hidden beliefs were the focus of this post, most, if not all of us have similar beliefs driving our behaviors in ways we probably don’t realize.
Have you seen hidden beliefs?
Sometimes it’s easier to see hidden beliefs in others than it is in ourselves? What hidden beliefs have you noticed? Share your experiences and let’s get a conversation started!
About the Author
Megan Rounds, Ed.D. is owner and principle perculator of perculcha, llc.
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