Training Your Mindset:  A Mindset of Faith

What Exactly is Faith?

Faith covers and entire chapter in Napolean Hill's classic self-help book Think and Grow Rich. If you Google faith and success you will find plenty of links to information on the connection between the two. What exactly is it?

Defining our terms is usually a good place to start, so the question to begin with is what exactly do we mean by the term. Merrian Webster defines it in several ways. One way we define it is as an allegiance to duty or a person. You may have faith in your teammate or partner in a business or a leader. Another definition would be synonymous with fidelity or faithfulness (more on that term later) having faith that someone would keep their promises. You trust that they are faithful. A third definition would be the sincerity of intentions. Someone acted in good faith.

The next few definitions are related to religion and the belief and trust in a higher power, faith in God. Along the same lines, it can be a belief in the doctrines of a religion, statements of faith. It can also mean a firm belief in something for which there is no proof, clinging to the faith that someone or something long missing would be found. Still another definition is the idea of having complete trust in something or someone. It can refer to something that is believed such as religious beliefs – the Christian faith, or Islamic faith or Jewish faith. Finally, the biblical definition of faith is “faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not [yet] seen.” [Emphasis added.]

Belief and Faith

Belief and faith are intricately connected. When you believe in someone you have faith in that person. When you believe in yourself you have faith that you will succeed.

Beliefs have an amazing impact on our health and well-being. The power of belief is what give placebos their power. Belief and faith is a significant factor in the ability for people to walk across burning coals, as I have done, without being burned. The two words can almost be used interchangeably. The slight difference is that faith is more about acting on your beliefs. It is that “leap of faith.”

There is one important question for you to focus on answering to connect faith to a success or growth mindset: do you really believe that what you believe is really real? Think about that question for a moment. Let me repeat it, do you really believe, that what you believe is really real? If you don’t, your actions will be incongruent. You might even be viewed by some as hypocritical.

Possibly some of you have encountered the hypocritical religious person who goes to church, mosque, synagogue, or temple and says all the “right” things but leads their life differently. Those people may be putting on the religious front for some political or self-seeking reason, or they may want to believe those words and ideas they preach but their deeply held beliefs and values get in their way and it is those deeply held beliefs and values that will guide our behavior. They therefor behave not in accordance with what that want to believe and value but in accordance to what they actually believe and value. It is that incongruence in beliefs and values that is the problem.

Beliefs, Faith, and World Views

The goal of the following information is not to change your worldview, but it is to cause you to become aware of it and aware of the journey you are on and the influence your worldview plays in that journey. Its influence on our success and fulfillment and ability to withstand the trials and tribulations, the earthquakes and storms of life, that cannot be avoided is dramatic. With the seed planted to become aware of your worldview and any conflicts you may have within yourself or any conflicts with the laws of nature and human reality becomes important. Conflicts within yourself can more easily be handled while conflicts with reality requires an honest assessment of your worldview. What you need to do now is answer the four worldview questions: Where did life come from? Why are their humans? What is right and wrong and according to whom? What happens when I die? You then need to determine how each of the major worldviews answer those questions.

What do you believe? Identifying Your Worldview.

What I will model for you in the paragraphs that follow is a process for analyzing your worldview. You would need to do the process for yourself, but you will read about how you could do it for yourself.

The first order of business then is to figure out what you truly believe. What is your guiding view of the world. This is usually so engrained we do not consciously think about it.

John Godfrey Saxe wrote this beautiful poem adapting it from an ancient folk lore.

It was six men of Indostan, to learning much inclined,
who went to see the elephant (Though all of them were blind),
that each by observation, might satisfy his mind.

The first approached the elephant, and, happening to fall,
against his broad and sturdy side, at once began to bawl:
'God bless me! but the elephant, is nothing but a wall!'

The second feeling of the tusk, cried: 'Ho! what have we here,
so very round and smooth and sharp? To me tis mighty clear,
this wonder of an elephant, is very like a spear!'

The third approached the animal, and, happening to take,
the squirming trunk within his hands, 'I see,' quoth he,
the elephant is very like a snake!'

The fourth reached out his eager hand, and felt about the knee:
'What most this wondrous beast is like, is mighty plain,' quoth he;
'Tis clear enough the elephant is very like a tree.'

The fifth, who chanced to touch the ear, Said; 'E'en the blindest man
can tell what this resembles most; Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an elephant, is very like a fan!'

The sixth no sooner had begun, about the beast to grope,
than, seizing on the swinging tail, that fell within his scope,
'I see,' quothe he, 'the elephant is very like a rope!'

And so these men of Indostan, disputed loud and long,
each in his own opinion, exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right, and all were in the wrong!

So, oft in theologic wars, the disputants, I ween,
tread on in utter ignorance, of what each other mean,
and prate about the elephant, not one of them has seen!

Like the blind men most of us go through life never stepping back to examine how we perceive the world. In many regards, we are blind. Our view of the world is shaped in large part by our upbringing. The beliefs and values that get instilled in us at a young age, which are influenced by parents, mentors, guardians, and of course our culture.

The Profound Question that Shapes World Views

Your worldview is ultimately shaped by one very profound question: is there a God? All the worldviews are shaped by their answer to that question and four questions that come from that one. That one question about God’s existence defines everything else about you in the way you answer it.

Ravi Zacharias at an open forum at the University of Miami gave this illustration. He said many years ago, there was a 52-volume series written by Encyclopedia Britannica, and it was called The Great Books of the Western World. The first 50 volumes are various authors, all the way from Plato and Socrates and Augustine and Gibbon and so on. Then two volumes are called "A Syntopicon." The Syntopicon takes the first 50 volumes of this 52-volume series where these great authors have commented on great themes. At the end of each of those major essays, there are pages of footnotes. In the Syntopicon, you can look at any subject you want to that has been addressed in "The Great Books of the Western World." If you want to know what Augustine said about a topic, you would be directed to whatever volume that is found in and see what Augustine said on that particular theme. It was a beautifully put together set. The editor in chief was a lawyer by the name of Mortimer Adler. Years ago, the talk show host Larry King was interviewing Mortimer Adler and he said this to Adler.

"Professor, I noticed in all of the great themes that are covered there, the longest chapter is on God. How do you explain that?

“The longest chapter of all of these great themes addressed by the great western minds, the longest chapter is on God. How did that happen?"

Adler put it in a very simple way. He said, "Because, Larry, more questions for your life fall from that one issue than any other issue you can think of."

The decisions that you make from how you choose your friends, your partner, how you determine your ethics, the way you spend your money, what you do with your taxes, how you handle you determine what your civic duties and responsibilities are, all of these things are directly related to your belief or disbelief in God. The consequences of your life follow enormously from this one question – does God exist?

You have either explicitly or implicitly already answered that question and that is your worldview. You may not even be aware of how you answered that question or whether your actions and answer to that question are in sync. This question is an all-defining, all-encompassing question for life and destiny and it is vital you really believe that what you believe is really real.

Answering Four Necessary Worldview Questions

A worldview basically offers answers to four necessary questions: origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. There a several major world views that predominate the cultures of the world. Each worldview offers different answers to those four essential questions: Where do we come from (origin)? Why do humans exist (meaning)? What are your moral absolutes of right and wrong and who said those are right and wrong (morality)? What happens to me after death (destiny)? It is important to understand not all worldviews can be true. When each worldview makes a truth claim about origin, meaning, morality, and destiny and those truth claims are not the same, that means they cannot all be true.

There are three tests for truth which must be applied to any worldview: logical consistency, empirical adequacy, and experiential relevance. For a worldview to be true they must past all three tests. Some philosophers actually argue there is no absolute truth, but there is only what is true for you. Those philosophers espouse a premise that is illogical. They state there is no absolute truth, which begs the question – is that statement absolutely true? If yes, they have disproven their premise and if no the statement has no meaning so why would we even consider it?

Think about the poem I shared. Was it enough for the blind man who grabbed the trunk of the elephant to believe the elephant was like a snake? Was that true? Or the blind man who grabbed the knee to think of it as a tree? Was that true? Does what we believe make it true or can we believe a lie? I don’t mean to become deeply philosophical or theological, but thinking about those questions is important as you will discover.

I do want you to begin to think about your core beliefs, the things you really have faith in, and then try to answer our ultimate question: do you really believe that what you believe is really real. Are you congruent with your actions, your consciously held beliefs, and your deeply held beliefs – your faith? Congruency is power. You need to begin to think – ask and answer questions – about what you really believe. What is your worldview.

Is Your Worldview True?

Once that is done, it will be time to look at your world view and see if it is true. Before beginning let me answer an important question for you.

Why does this matter?

Beyond the theological implications of your worldview, this is about congruency and aligning your beliefs, values, with reality. Remember all these worldviews answer those fundamental questions differently and they all can’t be true. From those fundamental questions our personal beliefs and values sprout. If your beliefs, values, and worldview all align, you will be congruent in your actions, which is vital to having a success mindset or the mindset of a champion.

Hopefully, it goes without saying there are successful people from every culture in the world. Think about why both Ghandi and Martin Luther King could both achieve great and very similar successes despite having different worldviews. They really believed that what they believed was really real. They were congruent. If your actions are congruent you will be solidifying your mindset. There is a warning, however, if they are incongruent with reality, if they are logically inconsistent, or empirically inadequate, or experiential irrelevant trouble awaits.

Let me illustrate from a couple of movies.

In the movies Wall Street and There Will Be Blood, we see two main characters who become self-destructive. While it is impossible to know for sure what their worldviews were, there are plenty of hints. In both those cases, the main character seemed to be living out his worldview. His beliefs and values seemed to be aligned with that view and his actions followed. The problem was the results conflicted with the reality of life and human nature, which led to self-destruction. We see this over and over and over throughout history. When your actions are congruent with your beliefs but in conflict with human reality and natural law, internal conflict is the result and that leads to self-destructive behaviors.

If MLK and Ghandi had opposing worldviews, which both cannot be true how could they both achieve great success? Their foundation was built from a love mindset, which is an incredibly strong, flexible, yet stable foundation. In terms of your ability to become successful and attain any personal and worthwhile goals you set for yourself, you really do need to believe that what you believe is really real. But… you may well want to put your worldview to the truth tests not only to be sure you are congruent, but, for all of us, whether we are theologians or not, we may want to be sure we are not believing a lie. That choice is yours and yours alone and it can potentially be an incredibly difficult one.

The Challenge of Challenging Your Worldview

Imagine being a first century Jew. The Jewish faith was thousands of years old and embedded deeply into their entire culture. It was truly part of their identity. One of the strongest factors in how people behave is related to their self-identity. I remember asking a student once why he was such a pain to so many teachers. He very matter-of-factly said “because that is what I am.” I had my answer and it wasn’t an answer others ever focused on. Until someone could help that student change his self-identity, change his mindset, he would continue to be a pain no matter what consequences or punishments were enacted because losing his self-identity was the most painful thing he could experience.

In this first century Jewish culture, a man (and God) emerged. The messiah, the Christ, who upon his death and reported resurrection and through apparent eyewitnesses to that event, including but not limited to his disciples, was able to convince thousands of Jews to turn their back on thousands of years of culture to become Christians. They risked the loss of family. They risked the loss of friends. They risked expulsion for the synagogue, the very center of their culture and life. They risked the loss of their own cultural identity. They risked the loss of their life. Despite those risks thousands upon thousands converted in just a few short years.

Those first century Jews and even the first century pagans were confronted with a new worldview. A worldview much different from theirs. Changing theirs was incredibly difficult, but they did and two thousand years later it is still an incredibly difficult thing to look at your worldview and put it to the test. It can be life altering, but don’t you owe it to yourself and those you love to do just that? If you believe not, no problem, just be sure you are congruent with your own worldview as Ghandi was. If you do believe you owe it to yourself and those you love, I applaud you.

A Model for Analyzing Your Worldview

In my own journey, I was confronted with what I thought everyone knew was true because science indicated it was true and the reality of what science really says. I was challenged to examine my worldview and put it to the test. I had to look at my naturalistic worldview by applying the tests for truth. Naturalism taught me that life was not created and all life evolved from simple single celled organisms. Naturalism taught me to believe in science and natural laws, which I did (and still do). I began to look at what I believed and I mean really analyze what I believed.

Science has shown that there was a big bang. There was a beginning to the universe. I know there are some Christians who don’t believe in the big bang, but I would expect they should for the reasons I am about to explain. Below you will see this timeline of the universe from the big bang onward, which can be found on the NASA website.

It is important to understand that outside that diagram where all the material worlds exist there is nothing, literally no thing. It is not a black hole, it is not a vacuum. Those things are within the diagram. We also must note there was a beginning. Scientists used to believe the universe was eternal, which was a problem for Christians because they believed God created the universe. A couple of the major religions of the world do not believe there was a beginning to the universe. Science now states there was a beginning.

Further, outside this diagram where there are no material things, you do have the forces of nature or the laws of nature which allow us to get something from nothing. These forces or laws are not physical they act on the physical and they predate the physical. Scientists now say that you have natural forces or laws that are not physical, they act on the physical, they created something from nothing, and they predate the universe and time. Scientists then have just given the biblical definition of God. You can get a better explanation of that from a MIT trained scientist:

Logic will also point toward the Christian idea of God. First, is there any academician or scientist or philosopher who would deny that love is a real thing. It is a universal human experience that has been written about and experienced in every culture throughout history. It is clear love exists. I have spent considerable time writing about it in early pages and it is the foundational course in The Growth Mindset Training Academy curriculum. Love is real. The bible says God is love. According then to the laws of logic if love exists and God is love, then God (the Christian God) must exist. Further, we know light exists and the bible says God is light. If light exists and God is light then God (the Christian God) must exist. Now, we have science and logic both pointing toward the existence of the Christian God.

Thirdly, modern molecular biology is showing the incredible complexity of the cell. The old Darwinian belief that natural selection given enough time would lead to new species is being shown over and over to be not only implausible, but mathematically impossible. When scientists and mathematicians have looked at the structure of a simple protein and looked at the complexity of the DNA configuration that is necessary to build that protein the conclusion is there simply is not enough time to come anywhere near accounting for the random organization of the information needed to make that protein.

The problem gets much, much worse for the naturalist when you consider the significant amount of information needed to construct a human being with all the different types of cells and proteins all working together to get our functioning bodies and mind. The problem gets even worse for them when you ask a very simple question, where did the directions come from to build the very first cellular machines? If you are interested in the answers to these questions you can begin reading books such as Signature in the CellDarwin’s Black BoxDarwin’s DoubtUndeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition that Life was Designed and Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries That Reveal the Mind Behind the UniverseYou can watch debates on YouTube between the different views.

My final point on this comes from watching lots of debates and listening to numerous people argue against the existence of God and they always come back to the argument: look at what God commands in the old testament, look at all the horror he inflicts on innocent women and children. How can anyone believe in such a God. These arguments go from arguing against his existence to arguing why you should reject his existence and his teachings. What you get then is this argument, God says over and over and over in the old testament that he will judge man if man rejects him and his laws. He will judge by the sword, pestilence, famine and the like. The argument then is we should reject this God, dismiss him, because of all these awful judgements he promises to send to judge people who reject him and dismiss him and his teachings.

It also presumes that innocence on humans and leaves out the possibility, particularly regarding the death of children, that the death is actually a blessing for that child because just maybe they are spared a life of pain and suffering in our fallen world while being promised a place in God’s kingdom in the coming world.

An intelligent and reasonable person would not automatically dismiss that as a possibility. Given these simple arguments, it is very reasonable and logical to accept the idea that there is a God. Once you get there now you can begin the process of looking at the differences between the three monotheistic worldviews. You can seek knowledge, wisdom, and truth.

This process led me to reject naturalism as a worldview. I was then left to investigate the other worldviews to determine how they answered the essential questions, how they matched up with truth. I was just beginning my journey.

Will You Put Your Worldview to the Test?

What exactly do you need to do now? If you are going to put your and the other worldviews to the truth tests, I am challenging you to begin to delve into the question of what do I really believe and is it true and reasonable. I am not expecting, though it is possible, for you to change your worldview just reading these pages or going through our Faith Mindset Training – in fact you may not change your worldview at all, but may finally understand what it is and discover there is validity and reliability backing it up. That can have a profound impact on you.

To start you will do what many modern researchers do – Google it. The eight major worldviews you should begin with include naturalism (atheism and many if not all non-religious), agnosticism (some question this as a separate worldview from naturalism), Hinduism, Buddhism, Shikh, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, which covers about 92% of the world’s population. You will then need to discover how these world views answer those four questions. When you have their answers, you can compare yours to theirs and see which worldview best describes your beliefs. It is possible you don’t fit solidly into one worldview. That would be a red flag for potential internal conflicts between your own beliefs and values or you simply need to determine which, if either, of those worldviews you really believe is true.

What if you choose not to participate? Well, you may either continue your path not sure if what you believe is really real, or you may already have decided that you really do believe that what you believe is really real. If it is the former you may very well continue to struggle with internal values conflicts or being viewed by some as a hypocrite depending exactly the level or degree of conflict within you or with what you think you believe and what your actions say you believe. If it is the latter, good for you. You seem to be congruent with your beliefs and values. You are well on your way to having that first pier firmly aligned and attached to the foundation.

What if I follow through with this? I can only say you will become stronger and more aware of yourself, your beliefs and values, the world at large, and a deeper understanding of what you need to do attain your deepest desires. There are dangers. You may find the world view you had the one shared by your family and friends and or the culture at large is not what you think you believe is true. If that is the case you have some hard decisions before you. If you choose to ignore what you believe is true you are risking inner turmoil and conflict that can manifest itself in myriad of ways, many of which are relatively minor but impact your ability reach your goals and desires, and some can have significant impact on your health and relationships.

Tools of Change

What if you have internal conflicts with your worldview and things you want to believe and do or with your world view and what appears to be the truth about how its beliefs function in the real world – its relevance? There are ways to change your beliefs and mindset which I have already begun to introduce to you. A swish pattern is a great method of psychologically reframing the meaning of you give to internal representations. 

For your brain to understand that x is something you believe while y is something you don’t believe, it has to code it differently. It uses the submodalities of the imagery to provide meaning. How you represent that idea from your five senses is what provides the meaning. For most of us the visual representation is easiest to work with and very powerful. Smell may be the most powerful but not as easy to work with. Sound and feelings are also modalities we would want to include. Essentially, a swish pattern will change the characteristics of the image (or sound, or feeling) to create a new meaning. If the image you have for a belief you have have but don’t want to have suddenly had the characteristics of the image of something you doubt or you don’t believe you would no longer believe that thing. Here is a video explaining the swish pattern.

The swish pattern is quick and powerful. When I first learned to do a swish pattern by reading Tony Robbins book Unlimited Power in the fall of 1986, I tested its power. At that time I use to gag on tomatoes. I don’t know why, but I had a gag reflex when I would bite a tomato even slices of tomatoes. After I did a swish pattern, I went into the kitchen and with my mom watching I took out a tomato cut a big chunk and ate it with no gag reflex. I have been eating tomatoes ever since without ever having to reinforce or redo the swish pattern.

In my professional experience there are times it is not that powerful or long lasting for a variety of reasons. Working with students over the years on their belief systems I have found that doing two other things overtime solidify and make permanent the belief change.

If you create a mantra about your new belief such as I can become… and repeat that morning, noon, and night every day for a period of several weeks and find real people who aren’t any different from you who have accomplished the same thing you want to believe you can accomplish and watch, read, or listen to their stories several times over the same period of time you will effectively change your belief. You could add anchoring to that as well.

The more you can do to reinforce your new beliefs the more likely they become permanent and powerful. You will have changed your mindset or you will have strengthened and solidified your existing mindset making it more readily available in all areas of your life.

Faith and Trusting Others

Beyond worldviews, there is another aspect of faith that you need to reflect on – trusting others. Having faith in other people and delegating responsibilities or simply trusting that people will have your back and do the right thing is an inescapably important attribute in a growth mindset or mindset of a champion. It is not easy. There are many highly driven and “successful” people who never learn to trust others and it eats away at them. It causes undo stress which sometimes people are good at hiding until they have that heart attack or stroke or blow up fight that destroys relationships.

Trusting others though inevitably leads at some point to being let down. I remember coming across a story about Thomas Watson and his reaction to a very costly mistake made by a young executive. As the story was told, a young executive made a mistake that cost IBM a million dollars. The young executive had his resignation ready and when he gave it to Thomas Watson, Watson replied, why would I accept this after I just spent a million dollars educating you? Watson was exhibiting faith – twice. First, he allowed this executive to have enough freedom and power to be held responsible for a million-dollar mistake and then he showed faith in this executive by letting him know he didn’t expect him to make the same mistake again. If you are going to be a leader in any arena you need to exhibit faith in other people. You need to trust.

Successful families are built around faith in each other. The trust or faith a husband has in his wife and a wife in her husband is essential for a long-lasting strong marriage. A break in that trust has destroyed marriages and torn apart families.

Trust is also an essential ingredient in raising children. At some point as a parent you must have faith that your children have been raised well and will do the right thing. Sometimes your child my break that faith by making a mistake they should not have made and like Thomas Watson you need to be ready to put your faith in them once again.

How does one build this level of faith? Love. Love is patient. Love holds no record of wrongs. Love endures. Those are essential components of building faith in others.

How do you learn to trust again after having that trust broken? There are several tools one could use. First, Time-Line Therapy TechniquesTM offer a very powerful technique. There are at least two things that you would want to clean-up. First your hurt and or anger over the situation in question and then any limiting decision you might have regarding being able to trust again. In the pages on faithfulness I give more information about using these techniques. After cleaning that up from your past memories, it is about taking action and take one small step of trust and building from there.

If you have trouble trusting there can be lots of reasons and thus different ways of addressing it. One such way is to understand the process - your strategy - that you brain runs to do the behavior of not trusting. Once you identify the strategy and become aware of it you can train yourself to interrupt it and replace it with a better strategy. The more you interrupt the old the less likely it will be to run on its own.

Being Too Trusting

If the problem is being too trusting and get taken advantage of, the problem can be resolved by discovering the strategy your brain goes through or the program it runs to trust. In very basic terms our brain runs a program, a strategy, to generate a behavior, in this case the behavior of trusting. In my experience, people who have this problem run a strategy that has a trigger and maybe one or at most two intermediary steps before trusting. 

To fix that problem you need to add some other steps into the strategy, steps that would cause you to think more about the potential risks in trusting, and verifying as much as possible the evidence that those risks are minimal. Visualization, rehearsal and anchoring are tools used to install new steps in a strategy. Basically, strategies have a trigger which is often, but not always external, and it is either a visual, audio, kinesthetic, gustatory, or olfactory trigger which will lead to an internal step (something going on inside your body) which is generally a visual, audio, or kinesthetic, which will lead to another step and eventually to the act of trusting.

For example, for me the process would start with an Ae (audio-external even) of someone asking me for something or to do something in return for something. I then develop an Ai question, which leads to an Ke (asking a question), and then another Ai event. I loop through that until I get a Ki (internal feeling) that I can trust this person. I tend to be more trusting than some people which does leave me open at times to have that trust broken. My other belief systems though – my love mindset – kick in so I don’t become distrusting of everyone, but I will tend to run that trust cycle with a couple more loops for the same individual who broke my trust the first time. It is a system that works very well for me.

 In summary, faith is about knowing and trusting that the world is as you understand it. It is the congruency that comes from being certain on how the world works and because you are certain how the world works you can build your museum to withstand the earthquakes of life. Faith is also putting your trust in people. It is understanding that faith in others does not mean you won’t become disappointed or even hurt by an outcome instigated by another, but it is recognizing the need to be able to put your faith in another human being to attain true and well-balanced successes in life.

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