Last Updated on November 14, 2023

The late author Robert Anton Wilson used to say,

“What the thinker thinks, the prover proves.”

Our belief systems become self-fulfilling prophecies.

If we believe we can’t do something, we won’t muster all our effort and resources to really go for it.

Perhaps we put forth a lackluster effort and fail.

Then this can be more evidence that we can’t do it.

But the truth is we never really had a chance!

From the “can’t do it” paradigm, we can’t do it.

Even if we can easily do it from a different paradigm.

Ironic Processes

People do this in relationships too.

Sometimes people are afraid their partner will leave them.

So they do weird manipulative stuff to try to keep them around.

But then they can’t be really sure the other person loves them.

“Maybe they only pretend to love me because I’m forcing them to.”

Also being manipulated feels bad.

So a person who is forced into things is more likely to leave the relationship!

Thus our belief system gets reinforced once again.

This is called “ironic process theory” in Psychology.

Don’t think of a white bear on a unicycle juggling three flaming chainsaws.

The harder you try to avoid thinking about that, the more it appears in your mind.

It’s the same when we try to avoid a problem, like a partner leaving us.

Creating the Problem by Avoiding It

Ironically, we do things that make our unwanted outcome more likely.

Probably the most famous example of this is in the ancient Greek play Oedipus.

Oedipus learns from a fortune teller that in the future, he will kill his dad and marry his mom.

So he sets up his whole life to avoid this fate.

But everything he does just brings it into existence.

Often our sticky problems are like this too.

No matter what we do, we end up recreating the problem we are trying to change.

This is because of the belief system or paradigm we are operating from.

We can only see through the lens we are seeing through.

And it colors the entire world, making it appear real.

Beliefs Have Legs

The late great Steve Andreas wrote a book about changing beliefs about our self, our so-called “self-concept.”

In his book, Transforming Your Self, he figured out that belief systems rely on examples in a kind of “database.”

Like legs on a table, the more legs, the more stable the belief.

I believe I am intelligent, because I have thousands of examples of people telling me I’m smart.

The thing about a belief is once we have it, we can easily dismiss counterexamples.

I also know I do dumb stuff sometimes, and I’m very wrong about things sometimes.

But there are so many examples of people telling me I’m smart in my mind that I can’t help but believe it.

Even doing dumb stuff or being wrong doesn’t change my basic belief in my intelligence.

This is great for positive beliefs like this.

But it’s a disaster for changing unhelpful beliefs about ourselves.

Jumping Paradigms

Often we try to change our own beliefs or convince someone else by attacking specific examples.

This almost never works, because there are just too many “legs” on that table.

When we have deeply entrenched belief systems, sometimes it can better to just jump instantly to a different paradigm.

Robert Anton Wilson called belief systems “reality tunnels.”

His favorite way of jumping to a new “reality tunnel” was a megadose of LSD.

Today there is increasing interest in psychedelics for “treatment-resistant” conditions.

In other words, when the table has too many legs.

When the database has too many examples.

But there are also non-drug ways to temporarily leave behind a reality and see things radically differently.

Like when people travel to a foreign country for a few months.

Everything back home seems so arbitrary and weird.

We can use imagination to travel to alternate timelines, universes, futures, or pasts.

If we do this vividly enough, and frequently enough, we can bypass trying to challenge every example in our database.

Instead we can just jump right to a more helpful belief system, instantly.

Until next time,