Beliefs are completely hidden from view but are the chief determinants of your performance. Useful, effective beliefs cost the same as bad ones, so why not use ones that serve you best? Since no one has access to your beliefs but yourself, feel free to play with them. Pick outrageous, ostentatious, grandiose ones, even if they initially don't resonate with your personality. Think of them as a strategy. If they give you good results, keep them. If not, try new ones until you get the results you want.
Exercise 8. Experience how beliefs set the limits of your behavior
Stand up and hold your arms out horizontally. Now twist around in a counterclockwise direction until you can't twist any further. Note exactly how far you have twisted by remembering where your right middle finger is pointing. Now untwist your body, stand straight, close your eyes and take a deep breath. In your mind's eye, imagine yourself twisting again with your arms outstretched, only this time imagine that you continue to twist, all the way around, 360 degrees, and then one more time, as if your waist was a swivel and you could keep on doing this for three, four full turns. Now open your eyes again and hold your arms out, and twist again until you can twist no further. Notice how far you have turned. Is it further than before or less? By how much? What is different this time?
Beliefs determine the range of your existence and the limits of your performance. Before you can accomplish something, you must believe that it can be done. Most beliefs that we have regarding our world and our abilities are products of accident or childhood indoctrination by parents or peers. Some of these beliefs still serve us well. But, as almost all of them were patterns laid down accidentally (as opposed to deliberately), many do not. In this chapter, we invite you to take control of your own beliefs and deliberately instill ones that serve you in your goals in the most effective manner possible. Feel free to expand on the on the ones presented here, or to come up with brand new ones that suit you even better. As for the old beliefs - do not give them too much heed any more. The more energy you focus on the new, more effective, more fun beliefs, the more the brain will automatically allow the tired old beliefs to wither on their own.
This chapter has two parts to it: content and process. First, we will make suggestions for new beliefs to make you more powerful and effective. Then we will give you methods for instilling those beliefs such that they become a part of your everyday mental makeup.
The Content of Beliefs I: The World
These are global beliefs about how the world works. They are the underpinning of the Taoist way of thinking. Take these to heart, and everything else in the course will follow and flow effortlessly.
1.1 believe in the abundance of the universe. Look around you. There is matter, substance, stuff. It is everywhere. There is no vacuum, no void, no antimatter, no non-being - only being. There are over 6.2 billion people on earth, half of whom are of the opposite sex, a good number of whom would make a suitable companion - millions upon millions of possibilities. There are more women than you could date in two thousand lifetimes. In fact, there are more women than men, so even if every other guy hooks up with a woman, many more remain for you. So relax. Expand your mind to wealth-consciousness and the abundance of possibility, and notice how that brings a calmer, more joyous and more powerful demeanor to you. If you know that the store will always have an unlimited supply of cereal for you, would you ever get anxious about running out? Become aware of your prior patterns of poverty-consciousness, and deliberately replace them with wealth-consciousness. Poverty-consciousness leads to a perception of lack of choice, which leads to being desperate or stuck: "I'll never find another one like her again." Consciously choose wealth-consciousness, and know in your heart of hearts that whatever it was, there's more where that came from. Do that especially when all signs seem to point to the contrary. Abundance is simply the way of the universe. is the only thing you take away from this course, I'll be happy.
2. The universe is a reflection of me. If you encounter the universe with the attitude of 'Give me', then the universe will respond in kind: 'Give me.' If you meet the universe with the attitude 'How can I serve,' then the universe will respond likewise: 'How can I serve?' Through this subtle but powerful mental shift, you have in effect turned the universe into your most reliable partner. The Hindus call it karma: in essence, you get back out of the world what you put into it. Put in positivity and abundance, and that's what you get back. Put in neediness and negativity, and that's exactly what you get back, too. A simple way of thinking about this is that you can't give what you don't have. So if you're giving away friendship, love, and positivity, that means you must have a lot of it in store. Since the choice is yours, may I suggest that you believe that the universe truly reflects you and bring an attitude of serving and sharing to whatever you do, and watch the miracles that follow.
3. The world is complete exactly as it is, and I am grateful for it. My definition of pain is 'wishing the world to be different than it is.' In metaphysical terms, asking the world to be different (e.g. asking for something in your life) does not serve you because it affirms to the universe the lack of that something in your life. If the universe is a reflection of you, then it's going to come right back to you and say, "You're absolutely right; that's lacking from your life." So affirming the lack of something has the effect of driving it further away out of your life.
But if we still want such things as companionship, intimacy, and sex, how do we approach them if not with desire? The solution is to replace desire with gratitude - and, by extension, hope with positive expectation. Hope is needy; positive expectation is affirming. When you have gratitude for something, you are accepting its presence in your life and affirming it to the universe. In return, the universe will do the same and manifest that object in your life. So you say, "Thank you, world, for bringing so many fabulous, beautiful, intelligent, caring women into my life" - even if you're on an oil platform on the North Sea with no woman in sight for hundreds of miles and you haven't had a date for months. And the world will say, "Why yes, you're quite welcome," and good things will happen.
The Content of Beliefs II: The Self
1. Upholding my own importance is a waste of energy. People expend most of their energy to prove to others that they are important, cool and therefore worthy of love and admiration. Since this feeding of the ego rarely enhances any kind of real connection or love, the energy is wholly wasted. Relinquishing the need to uphold your own importance frees up an enormous amount of energy towards useful action, harnessing your personal power and catching a glimpse of the true majesty of the universe. All that freed-up energy can now serve you to observe and act more effectively.
Most of our energy goes into upholding our own importance ...If we were capable of losing some of that importance, two extraordinary things would happen to us. One, we would free our energy of trying to maintain the illusory idea of our grandeur; and two, we would provide ourselves with enough energy to ... catch a glimpse of the actual grandeur of the universe.
- Carlos Castañeda, The Art of Dreaming
Think of your day yesterday, and remember the instances in which you did something to uphold your own importance. Did you belittle someone to prop yourself up? Did you get angry at someone or something? Did you brag, complain, or defend yourself? Become more and more aware of these behaviors on a daily basis, and recognize their folly. And when you recognize their folly, smile and find something to be grateful about - for example, the ability to smile and laugh at yourself. With conscious practice, these behaviors will fall away like dead leaves, leaving you more empowered and free.
Assiduous practice of this belief underpins many of the skills in The Tao of Dating. Lack of investment in the ego cultivates a calm, silently powerful presence that is immune to the fluctuations of feminine energy, which is the hallmark of true masculinity.
2.1 am complete exactly as I am This belief is corollary to the one above about accepting the universe (since you are, after all, part of it). But it deserves special emphasis, because it would seem that fully accepting yourself is not consistent with reading a self-improvement book. This is not necessarily the case. What this belief emphasizes is that, at any point in your life, you are fully accepting of who you are right at that moment. It's not as if right now you're not okay, and there is some point at which you will be okay. You are okay at every point in the process, because you are a creature of never-ending growth and improvement. There is no endpoint, because the only endpoint is now, and there is no time when it is not now. Be comfortable in your skin always; it is the most fundamental aspect of attractiveness. And although you may just be the seedling for a great redwood now, you are still that big tree in essence, at every point along the way. It's just that you keep on growing. And just as the redwood needs water and nutrients to grow, so do you -and you're doing that right now, feeding yourself with the mental nutrients of this book.
...The giant pine tree grows from a tiny sprout. The journey of a thousand miles starts from beneath your feet.
Rushing into action, you fail. Trying to grasp things, you lose them. Forcing a project to completion, you ruin what was almost ripe...
- Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, Ch. 64 (transl. Stephen Mitchell)
A great part of this belief is accepting yourself for your animal nature and for what you may perceive as faults. No one brings home a perfect report card and neither will you. Human imperfection is not a bug - it's a feature. So let go of that false need. Perfectionism is just another form of self-pity and low esteem. Throw it aside. Relax and realize that everyone is lonely and has failed at some point, so it's normal. Be comfortable in your own skin. Which brings us to the next belief...
3. Being with attractive women is my birthright as a man. Another major aspect of being comfortable in your own skin is being aware and accepting of your sexuality. By virtue of the way we came into being, we are all sexual beings, so deal with it. As a result of that, perhaps you have a raging libido and want to have sex with every attractive woman you meet. Or maybe you have a tendency to fall madly in love with young women. Whatever you feel, recognize that 3 million years of evolution has designed you to find young, pretty, healthy women attractive, and that's quite all right. It means that all systems are working, and some may say it's the chief purpose of life. In evolutionary terms, attractiveness is just a proxy for the ability to bear healthy children. Prettiness propagates procreation - it's why it's there. So embrace your sexual energy. Don't demonize it and never apologize for it as long as your intentions remain good. You're a man, and it's just the way things are. You are one half of the procreation puzzle.
Some men find it particularly troubling that they are attracted to more than one woman at time, or that they want to date multiple women simultaneously. This is normal male Homo sapiens sapiens behavior, especially if you're single and not in love. Primatologists have studied various determinants of sexual behavior - e.g., testicle size relative to body weight - and concluded that human male sexual proclivities fall somewhere in between those of chimpanzees, who have multitudes of partners, and gorillas, who maintain a harem restricted to a few females. According to this theory, human males, although not designed to have multiple partners on a daily basis, certainly aren't designed for strict monogamy either. Monogamy with occasional excursions seems to be the norm. Since it's the way you're built, there's really nothing to be ashamed of as long as you're not breaking any promises. So acknowledge your sexuality, embrace it, and bring its power into your service. For more on this topic, consult The Anatomy of Love by Helen Fisher or The Red Queen by Matthew Ridley.
4. I provide the best experience a woman could possibly have. Perhaps you think this particular belief a bit outlandish and not an exact fit for your personality. If that is the case, good: this means we are running up against tired old beliefs that need replacement. Remember: we don't care as much about the absolute truth value of a belief as much as we do about its usefulness. Right now, chances are that the old belief expresses itself through this whiny voice in the back of your head saying, "Well, maybe I'm kind of fun to be around." The fact is that neither your version nor this new version of the belief can be proven or disproven, so why not utilize the belief that will serve you best. Additionally, I want you to really think you provide the best experience, not just a good one. That way, when another guy comes along to chat up the object of your affection, you won't think, "Well, I'm good but he's probably more interesting, so I'll just let her have him." The fact is, there's no way for you to know that. And when in doubt, might as well assume that you have the upper hand.
The beliefs that last longest are those that have strong support not just in your head but also in the real world. So as you go through this book and incorporate its principles into your life, you will give this and other beliefs strong legs to stand on.
5. I am the more important person in the relationship. This particular belief is not about selfishness but rather about practicality. If there are two people in a relationship, then you have a choice of either making yourself or your companion the more important one. If you choose yourself, then you more or less know what you want, and you can handle that. On the other hand, if you make your companion the most important person in the relationship, then you have to figure out what she wants. You can do this by asking, or by guessing. If you guess, you're very likely to get it wrong (trust me on this). And if you ask, you're still likely to get it wrong since people are notoriously inaccurate in reporting their unconscious needs and desires. So your best solution is to stick with what you know, i.e. what you want in the relationship, and take care of that first while remaining your kind and considerate self.
Do you remember the safety announcement that we all ignore at the beginning of an airplane flight? It says that in the case of a drop in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will automatically fall from the ceiling. It then says that if you're with a child, put on your own mask first, then attend to the child. The reasoning is that if you do it the other way around, you are likely to both perish, which makes for an unhappy ending. This book is about happy endings (and many of them), so please do yourself a favor and take care of you first.
This belief applies as soon as you have a relationship with someone, and that happens as soon as you start to relate to someone, i.e. at the moment you say 'Hi.' It's about taking a strong lead from the very outset and setting the tone of the relationship, of being dominant, which is part of the masculine essence. We will discuss that extensively later in the book.
6. I am inherently desirable. There are people who don't like champagne. Is that the champagne's fault? Does it make the champagne bad? Similarly, you are desirable. Your company is something that all sensible people should seek out. There will be some people who don't quite perceive that yet, and that's okay. That does not change your intrinsic nature which is desirable.
The foregoing nine principles were the content of your beliefs. Nine is about the right number because the conscious mind can attend to 7 ± 2 items at a time (from Miller's classic 1956 paper). For these to affect your life and bring you closer to fulfillment, you must internalize them such that they become a part of your everyday mental makeup. For that, you need processes for internalizing and instilling beliefs. In my experience, one of the most powerful techniques for creating new beliefs and behavior patterns is hypnosis. As a scientist and skeptic who once sat in on a clinical hypnosis class in medical school to heckle it, I have become more and more convinced of the power of hypnosis to effect lasting change and create new beliefs. Hypnosis works best when done by an expert who custom designs a session for you. As this option may be costly or not available to most people, I have created audio files of hypnotic scripts relating to the material in The Tao of Dating. The next best thing is self-hypnosis. A reasonably good primer on this is Hypnosis for Change. More advanced techniques can be found in NLP: The New Technology of Achievement. In the meantime, the following three techniques are easy to implement and require minimal effort and time commitment. These are the three that personal development expert Brian Tracy recommends for himself and his students in Maximum Achievement and the companion audio course, The Psychology of Achievement:
Affirmations. Tracy speaks of the law of subconscious activity: whatever the conscious mind accepts and believes, the unconscious mind immediately puts into effect. So for affirmations to be effective, they must speak the language of the unconscious mind. This means they must have the three P's: they must be positive, they must be personal, and they must be present-tense. As it turns out, the unconscious cannot process a negative. For example, if I told you, "Don't imagine a pink polka-dotted elephant running down the highway," what happens? Did you just visualize the elephant? Exactly. So you must tell the unconscious what you want it to do, not what you don't. Tell it, "I am massively successful with women" as opposed to "I don't want to screw up anymore." The unconscious also tends to be better at accepting statements in the present tense and firstperson singular. Say "I am successful" instead of "You will be successful." Writing affirmations every morning in the first minutes after you get up has the magical effect of hard-wiring them into your brain. Make your list of affirmations (perhaps some derived from the beliefs and attitudes we discuss here in The Tao of Dating) and commit to writing them down in the morning for 90 days. Brian Tracy writes down his goals and affirmations every single morning, and he's been doing it for decades, and he is a very successful man.
Visualization. See a clear, precise picture of your ideal result. The mind cannot distinguish between what is real and what is vividly imagined. Add in all five senses. Go back to Exercise 4 for an example of this technique. Whatever picture you can hold in your mind on a sustained basis, you can achieve.
Acting the part. Some people call this technique fake it until you make it. The fact is that beliefs and behaviors are a two-way street: one can create the other. Every time you do something you didn't think you could, your beliefs expand. As your beliefs expand, so does your envelope of behavior. Sometimes behaviors can create new global beliefs. For example, when you jump out of a plane or walk on hot coals and had never imagined you could, you may come back from that experience with the feeling that a lot of limitation has been removed from your life. the case of dating, act the part that you are incredibly good at meeting and attracting women. Do it as a joke first, and notice any changes over time. Remember that if you feel that you're not good with women now, it's probably because you pretended that you weren't good with them long enough to turn that into a belief. The good news is that you can use the same process to your advantage and replace that useless belief with a more useful one. You are what you pretend to be, so pretend to
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