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Define Your Beliefs

Your Mind - high res

One way to uncover your Organizing Principles is to see if you can define your beliefs (and the behav­ior that results from them) by contrasting them with the beliefs of other people around you whose attitudes and actions strike you as very different from your own. Analyzing these differences can help you recognize and put into words what your underlying beliefs are.


I came to realize I had the Organizing Principle “The world isn’t safe; don’t trust” when I noticed how different a close friend’s overall attitude about the world was from mine. I saw that she generally expected things to go well and for people to do what she wanted and expected them to do. This struck me as odd because it was the opposite of how I felt; I approached situations ready to protect myself, believing that old axiom, “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong if I give it the space to.” I started wondering what caused the difference between my friend’s perspective and mine, and I realized I believed that “the world isn’t safe; don’t trust.”


When I realized I didn’t trust the world the way my friend did, I started becoming mindful about my thoughts—the chatter in my mind—about not trusting. I started noticing my default position that in certain types of situations the suspicions and fears expressed by the voice in my head were keeping me from being in the now. I came to see that the anxiety that accompanied these daily situations resulted from my default programming’s belief system of mistrust.


Fear of abandonment is a core issue in my programming, creating anxiety in me based on strong feelings from the past, related to having been abandoned (my father’s death, my mother’s unavailability). This core issue gave rise to a default belief in my programming that I can­not depend on people to be there for me. “The world isn’t safe, don’t trust” voices my programming’s fear that I can’t trust relationships with other people because ultimately they will abandon me.



An excerpt from my recent book, Your Mind Is What Your Brain Does for a Living, now available at Amazon.

  • 30 Oct, 2014
  • Posted by Steve Fogel
  • 18 Tags

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