The #1 question my clients ask me is: “What should I believe?”
They’re always surprised when my answer is: “I have no idea.”
And it’s true. I don’t know what they–or you–“should” believe, because there is no “should” when it comes to believing new thoughts. What thoughts work for you is something you must figure out for yourself.
Many of our thoughts are completely unverifiable—there’s no way to know if they’re true or not because they’re just optional interpretations. Plus, often if you decide you believe something, it doesn’t even matter if someone tells you it isn’t true. You believe it anyway. Studies show that when presented with conflicting evidence, most people double down on their incorrect belief.
What’s accepted as truth by one person isn’t accepted as truth by the next person. Different societies and religions believe different things are true. Even science changes over time!
Trying to figure out whether something is true is just a waste of time in most situations. However, what I can tell you is HOW to determine what you want to believe. It’s a simple question, but it’s not the one you’ve been using.
Here’s the secret:
Don’t ask yourself if your thought is true—ask yourself if it’s USEFUL.
Let me break down why that’s so important. I’ve taught you before that your thoughts create your feelings, and the way you feel determines how you act.
When you feel insecure, you act differently than when you feel self-confident. When you feel angry, you act differently than when you feel calm. Our feelings determine our actions, and our actions create the results we have in our lives.
Let’s say you have the thought you’re not advancing at work. That thought makes you feel insecure, so you never put yourself forward for opportunities at work, and you fall behind your peers who do. Your result will be that you prove yourself right that you aren’t advancing.
Or maybe you have the thought your romantic partner doesn’t really love you, which makes you feel sad, so you shut down. You don’t reach out or act lovingly towards them, so then you feel alone and prove to yourself you’re unloved.
Notice in these examples the TRUTH doesn’t matter. You might not be behind at work when you start having this thought, but over time it makes itself come true. Or your partner might absolutely love you, but when you have that thought and that feeling, it doesn’t matter. You don’t feel loved.
It may be true or not, but often there’s no way to know. What matters is whether your thought is HELPFUL.
When you think a thought, how does it feel? Does it produce a feeling you want to have? What kind of action does it make you take? Do you like the results you get?
THOSE are useful questions.
Stop ruminating about whether your thoughts are true and start thinking about whether they are HELPFUL. Helpful matters more than true every time.