Reinforcing Unconscious Beliefs

Each and every one of us have has an experience where we’ve set out on a journey and encountered an obstacle along the way. A barrier that impedes our progress. Sometimes it’s a metaphorical barrier, like getting a ‘no’ that has to be a ‘yes’.

And sometimes it’s a very literal fence that you collide with at thirty kilometres per hour, as I did recently when I was riding my bike at Jells Park.

You’re intending to go a certain way, the thing isn’t willing to move, and you run straight into it and come out bruised and battered.

So here’s the thing about my bike collision – I was only two or three kilometres into what was a twenty-five or thirty kilometre round trip. I had a choice to make. Option A: fix up my handlebars, get back on the bike, and keep going. Option B: turn around, go back home, lick my wounds, and feel sorry for myself.

I opted for the former. And I rode the full thirty kilometres.

I’m not going to lie, it was hard to do. I was in pain. I landed on my shoulder, scratched up my face pretty bad, and suffered a devastating blow to a testicle.

But despite the pain of continuing onward, there’s a part of me that is far more fulfilled because I stuck to my commitment. There’s integrity in sticking to your word.

When we give up we’re selling ourselves short of what we’re really capable of achieving. We underestimate what we’re able to endure if we’re determined. So we take the easy road.

It’s a small thing to get back on a bike after falling off. Replace ‘bike’ with ‘horse’ and it’s a cliché for determination.

But the unconscious mind is always listening. It’s always looking for reasons to reinforce a belief. When we fall off a bike and get back on to keep riding, we’re reinforcing the belief that determination is important. When we go home, we’re reinforcing the belief that it’s okay to give up.

As we reinforce beliefs, they get stronger, and then they become harder to change. If we build the internal belief to never give up with small things, like riding a bike, that belief will be strong when we’re faced with a daunting challenge.

When we give up, or make excuses, or renege on our commitments, we’re actually doing long-term harm to ourselves because we’re removing internal reference points of what we know we can endure.

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