The Power Of Beliefs

Things happen for a reason. I hated my first spinning class with The Trainer for a reason (so we had reason to talk and start this thing); I injured my knees running for a reason (so I could discover the joy of lifting for a while); and I turned on the TV in the early hours of Saturday morning for a reason. So I could see this.

In this video, Derren Brown renders a woman unable to move her legs, arms and eventually she even loses the power of speech. He tells the woman that he is putting her ring inside a small doll, to give the doll a soul, her soul. He then ties string around the legs of the doll and the woman loses the power of movement in her legs. Similarly her arms, as he ties down the arms of the doll. Then he ties string around the mouth of the doll and the woman struggles to speak, but cannot.

It is startling to witness.

Derren then explains: “See, for me, it’s about questioning I think, and not taking things at first value. See, at the moment you can’t speak. But the only reason you can’t speak is because you believe you can’t speak because of what I’m telling you. And the interesting thing is that if I tell you you can speak, all that does is give you permission to question that belief and then you find that you can speak. Can’t you? Yeah, because what we believe isn’t necessarily real. I mean, this isn’t even a real voodoo doll.”

The concept of belief, and particularly self-belief is something that I’ve thought about a lot previously, especially in the early days of the journey when everything was new to me and I didn’t believe that I had the ability to complete the tasks set. It’s part of the reason that the Shane Koyczan words mean so much “this is just debris left over from when I finally decided to smash everything I thought I used to be” because it refers to the time that I spent, with The Trainer, systematically dismantling so many different self-beliefs and replacing them with more positive ones.

Whilst the Derren Brown video might seem like hocus pocus I actually experience what the woman did – a complete physical paralysis when faced with a task that I don’t believe I can do. A while ago The Trainer decided to introduce box jumps to my repertoire. We worked our way up from stepping up to real, genuine box jumps. Only two risers, but still. I was so happy and proud, I even named the day Box Jump Tuesday. The Trainer then made a point of saying “I’m not going to go any higher today, but you can go higher.” The statement was emphasised when he repeated it three times, possibly employing some kind of NLP technique. Sadly, I think my subconscious inserted the word “NOT” into the statement about going higher. The next time I tried box jumps I could only manage the step on the ground without any risers. The time after that I was unable to complete even that, and I stood staring at the step for minutes before I attempted the jump. When I did try to jump, my legs seemed paralysed and my feet just stayed glued to the floor.

I have the physical ability to box jump. I’ve done it. I’m fitter now than then so even more so. But the belief that I cannot do this simple task is preventing me from doing so. It’s so powerful it controls all my muscles to prevent them doing what my brain is asking them to. I’m as paralysed as the woman in Epping Forest was.

I’m lucky enough to have this insight about the Box Jump belief and, when my knees are healed, I can tackle it by giving myself permission to question the belief. I’ll get there. I’ve got to wonder though, what other beliefs do I hold that are preventing me from doing other things? I’m close to generating a belief that I can’t run; do I believe that I don’t deserve to eat clean – two things which are bothering me. And what else is there?

Consider beliefs carefully before they take hold; ensure they are working for you, not against you, and never underestimate the power of beliefs.


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